Background: Phosphatidylcholine has been in safe use for over 30 years. Subcutaneous injections of phosphatidylcholine have now become used internationally for localized subcutaneous fat reduction on the face and body, but concerns about the safety of this treatment have arisen.
Aims: To assess retrospectively treatment outcomes and adverse effects associated with subcutaneous phosphatidylcholine use.
Patients and methods: Thirty-nine UK doctors specifically trained and experienced in this treatment completed questionnaires, focusing on outcome and adverse effects experienced by patients.
Results: Ten thousand five hundred and eighty-one treatments had been administered over a mean duration of 13.1 months. Localized adverse effects (swelling, erythema, burning/stinging, pain, tenderness and bruising) were described by most patients as "very mild' (18.4%) or "mild" (39.2%). The total incidence of systemic side-effects was 3%: diarrhoea, nausea, dizziness/light-headedness and intermenstrual bleeding were described by most patients as "very mild" (36%) or "mild" (55%). Only 15 (0.14%) "unexpected, unusually severe or prolonged" adverse reactions (commonly pain and/or swelling) were reported. These were all self-limiting and none were judged as serious. 73.8% of patients were either "very satisfied" or "satisfied" with treatment.
Conclusions: This treatment appears to be associated with minimal risks when used by specifically trained and experienced doctors. The possible risks associated with this treatment should be balanced against the risks of other treatment options.