What Are Lipotropic Injections?

Lipotropic injections—also called lipo shots, lipo injections, lipotropic MIC injections, or lipotropic B12 injections—are shots administered by a needle that reportedly increase fat metabolism and boost wellness. Lipo injections, which contain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, are generally combined with a diet and exercise program to promote weight loss. However, there is a lack of scientific evidence that supports the effectiveness of these injections.

What Are Lipotropics?

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 eliminating fat.

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 the accumulation of excess fat in the liver." Different lipotropic factors—also known as lipotropes—have been studied and evaluated over the years. Researchers study lipotropes to further understand liver function and fat metabolism.

Keep in mind there's a distinct difference between lipo shots and liposuction, which is a cosmetic procedure that suctions fat from the body. Since liposuction and lipotropic are both referred to as “lipo,” it may create some confusion around the difference between the two procedures.

Types of Lipotropic Injections

In recent years, lipotropic injections have been promoted for the purposes of weight loss and sometimes for improved energy. Different weight loss clinics and medi-spas 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 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.

What to Expect From a Lipo Shot

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, providers may note that clients feel an improved sense of wellness right away, but avoid claiming instant weight-loss results. Or they may provide testimonials with fine print noting that results are not typical.

Do Lipotropic Injections Work?

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. Most research on the mechanics of lipotropics is very old and the majority of research was performed on rodents.

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.

If you are unsure about trying lipo injections, you may want to simply try diet and exercise first. Reduce your caloric intake to create a calorie deficit and increase the number of calories you burn each day.

You can also work with a registered dietitian to see if you are deficient in the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids provided by the shots. For example, according to the National Institutes of Health (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.

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.

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
  • Fatigue
  • 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 that 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 NIH.

But, as with any dietary supplement, it is important to exercise caution to stay safe. Speak to your healthcare provider to get personalized advice.

Lipo Shot 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.

A Word From Verywell

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.

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Article Sources
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