NOTE TO READERS: When this project lost substantial funding at the end of 2018, I lost the ability to continue publishing criteria-driven news story reviews and PR news release reviews - once the bread-and-butter of the site going back to 2006. The 3,200 archived reviews, while still educational, are getting old and difficult for me to technically maintain on the back end of the website. So I am announcing that I plan to remove these reviews from the site by April 1, 2021. The blog and the toolkit - two of the most popular features on the site - will remain. If you wish to peruse the reviews before they disappear, please do so by the end of March 2021. After that date you may still be able to access them via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine - https://archive.org/web/.
Read Original Story

Does Lipodissolve work?

Rating

1 Star

Does Lipodissolve work?

Our Review Summary

This story about a spa-based treatment for reduction of adipose depots provided little viewer education.  Its sole purpose appeared to be as a hook for a more in-depth broadcast which was to occur in that night’s prime time programming.  It did not inform viewers about lipo-dissolve in a balanced way or in a manner that would allow them to understand the likelihood of having the adverse outcomes.

The story did not discuss the quality of the evidence available supporting this treatment as effective or ineffective.  It contained only anecdotal examples about lipo-dissovlve gone bad.  However – this is inadequate information on which to base a decision, even a cosmetic one.  Although the women interviewed had adverse effects from the treatment, the story gave no indication of whether these outcomes were exceptions or were the rule.

The approach followed a typical TV news formula:  promote something as "sweeping the country…new phenomenon…hottest thing since Botox… reportedly tens of thousands of procedures completed", then slam it as expensive and unsafe.  

Where was the shoe leather journalism to hang some facts on those bones?  Why did they have to say "reportedly" tens of thousands of procedures completed?  Reported by whom?  What did ABC’s own investigation find?  Were any trials done?  What were the quantifiable benefits and quantifiable harms?  

Maybe that evening the ABC 20/20 program answered some of these questions.  But for the viewers up early (and possibly not staying up for the 20/20 program), the morning program was a shoddy tease.   

 

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The piece included the price paid by two consumers for this treatment.  Although they mentioned that the two women interviewed paid for this themselves, to be absolutely clear, the story should have stated that this is not a medical treatment and is not covered by insurance.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

As unappealing as receiving injections that results in necrosis or some other destruction of adipose tissue may be, the story did not provide information about the positive outcomes that people may receive with it.  Are consumers ever satisfied?  Are there specific situations in which the treatment has merit?  And if there is never a circumstance in which the treatment results in a positive outcome, this should have been stated explicitly. 

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story included two very graphic examples of harms that have been associated with this treatment.  The story should have listed the various harms associated with lipo-dissolve and provided some insight into often they occur. 

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story did not discuss the quality of the evidence available supporting this treatment as effective or ineffective.  It contained only anecdotal examples about lipo-dissovlve gone bad.  However – this is inadequate information on which to base a decision, even a cosmetic one.  Although the women interviewed had adverse effects of the treatment, the story gave no indication of whether these outcomes were exceptions or were the rule.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Applicable

The story started to lean in a direction of disease-mongering by its intro:  "What if you could go to lunch and instead of worrying about the calories in that sandwich, you could tighten your tummy?"  But the story soon swung the other way, telling stories of procedures gone bad.  So we’ll give the story a "not applicable score" because it swung wildly in both directions. 

 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

Though comments from one physician were included in this broadcast segment, it would appear that the bulk of the information for this story comes from the experience of the women interviewed.  Comments from more than a single clinician might have helped round out the story.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Not Satisfactory

The story provided viewers with no information about other means for management of adipose depots that they find irksome or bothersome.  Perhaps some air time should have been spent on the difference between excess adiposity resulting in health related concerns as opposed to purely cosmetic concerns.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story said that "lunchtime lipo" was "sweeping the country in some places."  Hard to figure out what that contradiction in terms means.  Is it sweeping the country?  Or just in some places?  The story also describes the procedure being done in spas.  Is that the only place?  Who does it?  The whole trend is undocumented and unsupported by any shoe leather journalism. 

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Not Satisfactory

The story mentioned that lipo-dissolve was ‘sweeping the country’.  It did not, however, provide any indication of how long this treatment has been available to consumers.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Does not appear to rely on a press release.

Total Score: 1 of 9 Satisfactory

Comments

Please note, comments are no longer published through this website. All previously made comments are still archived and available for viewing through select posts.