Medical patches, also known as transdermal or skin patches, are an attractive alternative as a medication delivery system for those who either cannot or prefer not to take pills or receive medications via injection. Depending on the medication, patches can reduce side effects, as medicines are absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the skin rather than having to pass through the stomach and liver to be metabolized as they would with a pill. Also, the slower, controlled-release absorption by the skin alleviates the wallop some injected medications may have when entering the system all at once, making for a gentler, seemingly less invasive approach to medication delivery. One such medication delivery system that is now offered is a weight loss patch.
Designed as a treatment for men and women who are overweight, manufacturers claim that a weight loss patch can deplete appetite, raise metabolism, boost energy, and promote weight loss. Ingredients vary by manufacturer, but commonly found in a weight loss patch are: fucus vesiculosus, 5 HTP, guarana, zinc pyruvate, yerba mate, flaxseed oil, lecithin, L-caritine, and zinc citrate. Fucus vesiculosus, also called bladder wrack, is a seaweed which is purported to stimulate the thyroid gland with iodine. In turn, the stimulated thyroid gland is said to increase metabolic rate and thus, promote weight loss. This bladder wrack seaweed is the “star” of most weight loss patches, though many other ingredients can also be found.
A weight loss patch can generally be adhered to the skin on any smooth part of the body. Most often, they are placed in areas that can be covered with clothing and aren't in danger of coming in contact with anything that would create friction and dislodge the weight loss patch. The upper back and hips are common places for application. Skin should be clean and dry, devoid of lotions or oils. Because the constant contact with skin can lead to redness and irritation, it is also recommended that patches be placed at a different location each time they are applied. Patches can remain in place for anywhere from one to several days, depending on the ingredients and manufacturer.
Reported side effects of the weight loss patch include headaches, dizziness, and nausea. As with any weight loss treatment, ingredients vary, and it's best to consult a doctor or pharmacist to ensure the ingredients of a particular patch are not contraindicated when used in conjunction with other medications, conditions, or illnesses.