Researchers have developed a new kind of skin patch that could dissolve “love handles” in mice. And while it has yet to be tested on human subjects, the researchers believe they might work on people and serve as a weight loss tool, or even a way to deal with obesity and diabetes.
Most of us recognize skin patches as a smoking cessation tool or even as a birth control method, as USA Today related. But the study conducted by a team of Columbia University Medical Center researchers suggests that these patches could also help people burn fat off from certain parts of the body, based on test results with animal subjects. In laboratory tests, the researchers used a medicated skin patch on mice, and it was discovered that using medicine with the patch resulted in a 20 percent loss of fat in the areas where the patch was applied.
The skin patches remove love handles through a process called “browning,” where so-called “white fat,” or the type of fat that stores excess energy, is transformed into “dark fat,” which creates heat by burning fat. As further explained by the Daily Mail, babies are born with a significant amount of brown fat, which helps insulate them from the cold. However, this brown fat gradually disappears as people reach adulthood.
USA Today added that the browning technique has long been considered as a potential means to counter obesity and diabetes, but existing “browning” drugs had caused unpleasant side effects in users, such as stomach pains. Patches, on the other hand, inject the medicine right into the fat, thereby reducing the side effects.
“Many people will no doubt be excited to learn we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles,” said study co-author and CUMC assistant professor of pathology and cell biology Li Qiang in a statement.
“What’s much more important is that our patch may provide a safe and effective means of treating obesity and related metabolic disorders such as diabetes.”
Should the skin patches be able to remove love handles in humans, it might take some time for results to be visible. According to the Daily Mail, the lab mice were given patches every three days over a period of four weeks. But it’s not even sure if the patches will work when applied on human skin, much less serve as a productive way of treating obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.
Currently, the CUMC researchers are conducting further research in hopes of discovering specific drugs that could improve metabolism and facilitate localized browning like the patch is supposed to do.
[Featured Image by Robert Hoetink/Shutterstock]