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(Memphis) “I do look at her picture sometimes and I cry,” says Willie Brooks-Howze. 

It’s been nearly two years since Howze lost her oldest daughter Kimberly, “When I pulled up, she was laying in my sister’s yard.”

The 24-year-old had been shot, caught in the middle of gunfire meant for someone else.

“It was bullet holes in all the vehicles, the neighbor homes had bullet holes in it.”

For someone who struggled with obesity her entire life, the weight of her daughter’s death became the tipping point.

“That is what satisfied me, just eating, I would lay in the bed and watch tv and just eat,” explains Howze.

It all changed after a visit to her doctor who told Howze, at 319 pounds, she was on the road to becoming a diabetic.

Howze immediately began lipotropic injections, “He saw me back the next week and I had lost eight pounds!”

Over the last six months, Howze dropped 40 lbs.

The lipo shot is one of the latest trends in weight loss medicine.

“Basically, it’s a combination of vitamins and amino acids, things that are natural to the body,” says Dr. Gregory Laurence of Germantown Aesthetics.

Proponents say combined with diet and exercise, patients can lose up to a pound a week and target specific areas.

“Namely the abdomen, the inner thighs, outer thighs and buttock area,” says cosmetic surgeon Dr. Jon Ver Halen of UT Medical Group.
Dr. Ver Halen’s office doesn’t offer the shots, but he’s used them during training for a triathlon, “I don’t feel it makes that much of a difference, but my wife loves them.”

Physicians say this is typical with treatments like the lipo shots, where there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that it works, but a lack of human trials.

“There’s sort of a consumer fairness side of this and that is, it doesn’t work for everybody,” adds Dr. Laurence. Doctors also say it’s not a quick fix. “It’s useless without diet control and exercise,” Dr. Ver Halen says.
The shots run from $20 to $30 per injection and they aren’t covered by insurance.

Since it’s composed of vitamins and amino acids, we asked why you can’t get the same results from exercising and taking a daily vitamin?
“A lot of these vitamins and a lot of these amino acids will not absorb if you take them orally,” explains Dr. Laurence.  “The thought is that by injecting these shots, that a patient is able to better metabolize kind of unwanted fat,” adds Dr. Ver Halen.

As far as side effects, Dr. Ver Halen says there is some stinging at the injection site, plus in rare cases, patients can be allergic to the anesthetic or components of the shot.

With the lipo shot being offered all across the MidSouth, and in different combinations, how does a patient know what they’re getting?

“Due your diligence with your own research,” says Dr. Laurence.

For Howze, who is now raising her two grandchildren, the entire process has been life changing, “I don’t huff and puff when I walk.” Plus, she sees it as an investment, in her health and future.

“If you’re a coke drinker and a snacker, you’ve already spent $20. So, I would much rather look at the big picture and spend my $20 where I think I’m gonna get some good results.”

Again, physicians say the lipotropic injections are not a substitute for common sense, diet and exercise, but some patients have seen good results. 

Of course, you’ll want to consult with your doctor before starting any new program.