The use of carboxytherapy to reduce subcutaneous abdominal fat is not associated with a durable decrease in fat layer thickness or abdominal circumference, with only short-term results reported immediately following the procedure that do not persist, according to the results of a single-center, randomized, sham-controlled, split-body clinical study (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00974415) published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

The investigators sought to evaluate the extent to which carboxytherapy is linked with a reduction in fat volume. Adult patients with body mass index between 22 and 29 were randomly assigned to treatment with 5 weekly infusions of 1000 mL carbon dioxide on one side of their abdomen, with 5 sham treatments administered on the contralateral side of the abdomen. Primary outcome measures included ultrasound measurement of thickness of fat layer, along with total abdominal circumference prior to and following treatment.

A total of 16 participants completed the study. All patients were ≥18 years of age and agreed to maintain their body weight within 5 pounds of their screening weight, avoiding changes in their diet and exercise. Ultrasound measurement demonstrated significantly less fat volume on the sides of the abdomen that were treated with carboxytherapy 1 week following the last treatment (P =.011), but this reduction was not maintained at 28 weeks.


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Total abdominal circumference decreased nominally but not significantly at week 54 compared with baseline (P =.0697), and the body weights of the participants did not change over the course of the study (P =1.00).

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Limitations of the study included the small sample size, as well as some errors in measurements of abdominal circumference and fat layers.

Although carboxytherapy was well tolerated by the participants, the transient decrease in subcutaneous fat reported in the study may not persist, the authors concluded. Further research is warranted to better describe the potential usefulness of carboxytherapy for body contouring through the exploration of other treatment approaches.

Reference

Alam M, Sadhwani D, Geisler A, et al. Subcutaneous infiltration of carbon dioxide (carboxytherapy) for abdominal fat reduction: a randomized clinical trial [published online April 23, 2018]. J Am Acad Dermatol. doi: 10.1016/j.jaad.2018.04.038