Lipotropic injections—also called lipo injections, lipotropic MIC injections, or lipotropic B12 injections—are a combination of ingredients administered by needle injection to increase fat metabolism and boost wellness. Often used by people trying to lose weight, the shots are generally combined with a program of diet and exercise to produce weight loss.
What Are Lipotropic Injections?
Lipotropics are substances that affect fat metabolism in the body. Lipotropic compounds are a combination of ingredients that help improve the breakdown of fat in the liver. People who promote lipo injections claim that the shots can improve weight loss by speeding up the metabolism and elimination of fat.
What Does Lipotropic Mean?
The term “lipotropic” was first used in 1935 by scientists who were investigating fat metabolism in the liver. In later years, the term lipotropic factor was used to describe a substance that “prevents or removes an accumulation of excess fat in the liver.” Different lipotropic factors—also known as lipotropes—have been studied and evaluated through the years. Researchers study lipotropes to further understand liver function and fat metabolism.
What’s in a Lipotropic Injection?
In recent years, lipotropic injections have been promoted for the purposes of weight loss and sometimes for improved energy. Different weight loss clinics and medispas create unique compounds that they sell as lipo injections.
Even though different clinics have different formulas, there are a few ingredients that are fairly standard:
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) is sometimes called the energy vitamin. This water-soluble vitamin helps to keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy. It also helps to prevent a form of anemia that can make you tired and weak.
- Methionine is an essential amino acid that plays an important role in metabolism.
- Inositol is a vitamin-like natural sugar related to the B vitamin family. Inositol helps to metabolize fat and may improve insulin function in the body.
- Choline is an essential nutrient that is related to the B vitamins. It is responsible for lipid (fat) metabolism and transport and has other jobs in the body related to cell membrane structure and other functions.
Because most lipotropic injections include the ingredients listed above, many providers refer to the shots as MIC (methionine + inositol + choline) injections. Depending on your provider, you may also receive other amino acids, vitamins, and minerals in your injections.
How Do Lipotropic Injections Work?
If you choose to get lipo injections, you’ll have to find a location that provides them. You are most likely to find the treatment at a weight loss clinic or a medi-spa. These clinics won’t necessarily have a board-certified physician on staff and may not have any affiliation with a medical institution. Most require that you make an appointment and many recommend that you invest in a comprehensive program that includes diet and exercise recommendations.
Shots are usually administered to the arm and many clinics recommend that you get the injections weekly. The injections must be continued for the duration of the weight loss journey or for as long as you want to benefit from the effects of the supplement.
Many providers say that their patients see instant results. However, they are often careful to say that the results are subjective. For example, one provider recently noted that her client felt an improved sense of wellness right away. There are no claims of instant weight loss.
Lipo Injection Studies
Research has been conducted regarding the mechanics of certain lipotropics. But most of it is very old and the majority of research was performed on rodents.
According to one researcher, there has been fluctuating interest in the topic, noting that the science of lipotropic factors often falls out of favor. While some studies reference diet, weight loss is not a primary outcome in studies about these compounds.
For example, one of the more recent publications (1986) regarding lipotropic research cites a renewed interest in the factors for the purposes of evaluating their effects on certain chronic diseases, most notably liver cancer. The research does not discuss using injections for weight loss. Many studies discuss the potential protective effects of lipotropic factors (choline, etc.) on the liver.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you are looking for published scientific evidence to support the use of lipo injections for weight loss, you’re not likely to find it. While researchers recognize the role of lipotropics in fat metabolism, specifically in the liver, there is no substantial published evidence that the shots will help you lose weight.
Lipotropic Injection Side Effects and Risks
There have been few published claims regarding lipotropic injection side effects, but anyone who gets a shot may experience some discomfort or irritation at the injection site.
In addition, some clinics list potential side effects, including:
- Stomach or urinary problems
- Unexplained pain in any part of the body
One weight loss clinic notes that an allergic reaction (itchiness, rash, hives, chest tightness, shortness of breath and swelling of the throat, lips, mouth or tongue) is possible.
Many of the clinics who sell lipotropic injections note that the ingredients are safe because they are substances found naturally in the body. And medical sources report that some lipo injection ingredients are independently considered safe when taken by mouth.
Vitamin B12, for example, is not known to cause harm, according to government health sources. And choline is not known to have any clinically relevant interactions with medication, according to the National Institutes of Health.
But, as with any supplement, it is important to exercise some level of caution to stay safe. Speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.
Lipo Injection Costs
Shot costs vary by location, but you may pay anywhere from $20 to $50 per injection. Usually, the cost is lower if you sign up for a package of shots. For example, one clinic sells a pack of five shots for $75.
To calculate your total lipotropic injection cost, it is important to take frequency and duration into account. Since you will probably need one shot per week, multiply the cost per shot times the number of weeks that you plan to continue the treatment. Keep in mind that a reasonable rate of weight loss is 1–2 pounds per week.
Do Lipotropic Injections Work?
Most clinics and online organizations that promote lipotropic injections for weight loss are careful to suggest that you should use the injections along with a program of lifestyle changes. In short, if you go to a clinic to get lipotropic injections, it is likely that you will also be given a program of healthy eating and exercise.
If you are unsure about trying lipo injections, you may want to simply try diet and exercise first. Reduce your caloric intake and increase the number of calories you burn each day. These traditional methods are grounded in clinical evidence have helped countless dieters slim down.
You can also work with a registered dietitian to see if you are deficient in the vitamins, minerals, and amino provided by the shots. For example, according to the NIH, most people in the United States get enough vitamin B12. But if you need more, you can consume beef liver or clams. Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy products are also good sources of B12. Some of the best sources of vitamin B12 also help to boost your intake of choline.
The Bottom Line
You may be able to lose weight with lipotropic injections, but there is no strong scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of the treatment. As always, work with your healthcare provider to find the best treatments to reach and maintain a healthy, fit, and strong body.