The truth about skinny injections that Gemma Collins and Kerry Katona use to lose weight

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There’s always a new invention convincing us it will lead to the so-called perfect body, whether it’s detox teas, waist trainers or even appetite-suppressing lollipops. The latest is “skinny injections”, with Gemma Collins crediting it for her recent 3st weight loss. She said, “I’m back in control of my life thanks to SkinnyJab,” while flaunting her slimmer curves.

Former Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Ampika Pickston and her pal Kerry Katona also endorse the technique on their social media pages – with Kerry having dropped 22lb thanks to the jab and working out – but is it too good to be true?

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How does it work?

A drug called liraglutide is injected into the stomach area using a pen-like device. The prescription drug was originally used to help people with type 2 diabetes. It was then discovered that a higher dosage could reduce hunger and it was branded as Saxenda, which launched in the UK in 2017.

“It works by mimicking an intestinal hormone that tells the brain your stomach is full,” explains Elite Aesthetics’ Dr Shirin Lakhani. And if you feel full, you’ll likely eat less and increase your chances of weight loss.

Where is it sold?

SkinnyJab claims to have been used on 15,000 patients and removed more than 70 tonnes of pure fat, thanks partly to its celebrity ambassadors. But Gemma has recently been in trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority for not making her relationship with the company completely clear, and SkinnyJab was found to be in breach of guidelines for not stating that the procedure is only for people with real weight issues.

There are also a number of other places offering the service including Skinny Clinic and Ampika’s company Skinny Revolution.

You can’t buy Saxenda over the counter. Dr Ross Perry from Cosmedics, who often appears on This Morning, explains, “It is a prescription-only medicine so would entail going to see a doctor to prescribe it. Part of the protocol would be to have a medical check to see if it’s appropriate and progress also needs to be monitored. It is not something people can just easily obtain, for good reason.”

How much does it cost?

It costs around £250 for a four-week course of daily injections, so it’s not cheap. Most companies include aftercare, a dietary programme and support from their professionals in this price.

What are the downsides?

Like most medications, there are some possible downsides to the injections. Side effects, according to Dr Lakhani, can include “nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, headache, vomiting, low blood sugar, tiredness, decreased appetite, dizziness and stomach pain”.

She adds, “There are also possible links to thyroid tumours and it may cause other more serious side effects from pancreatitis to gallbladder and kidney problems, to allergic reactions and depression.”

It’s worth consulting with your own GP before doing anything and to always carry out plenty of research.

Does it work for everybody?

The National Institute For Health And Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines state that it should only be used for people with a BMI of over 30 (obese) or between 25-30 (overweight) if they have another weight-related condition such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Dr Lakhani thinks the treatment is a last resort. “While drugs like this can help some people under the guidance of a specialist doctor, they should be considered only after dietary, exercise and behavioural approaches have been started and evaluated – for instance, with those who have not reached their target weight loss and have reached a plateau,” she says.

“I believe a combination of a healthy diet and exercise is most effective, healthy and sustainable for long-term weight loss in most people.”

Why do fans of the injections love it?

The SkinnyJab claims that you can lose on average 13.4lb in three weeks. It adds that clients will have access to nurses, nurse practitioners, clinicians and clinical advisors to help them get the desired results.

The company’s founder, Caroline Balasz, has credited it with turning her life around after struggling with her weight. She claims, “It didn’t matter what I did, whether it was to eat, or not eat, nothing made any difference. My metabolism was screwed up from years of crazy diets and now my age was catching up with me… Fast forward six weeks and I’d completed two rounds of the medication, I was 2st lighter. It was a miracle.

“I have maintained my weight for four years and go back on the programme as and when I need to.”

And Dr Daniel Cichi from Doctor 4 U, which also offers the treatment, claims, “You can still enjoy a vast majority of foods in moderation without overeating. Saxenda allows you to lose weight without having to go on any drastic diets, and it’s scientifically proven that a 5% reduction in body weight in those who are obese can help to reduce a multitude of health risks that are associated with excess weight.”

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This Morning’s resident psychologist Emma Kenny’s verdict

"The problem is as a culture we’re obsessed with being thin,” says Emma. “Any product that promises it without any effort is going to be attractive. People can’t resist a quick fix. They don’t feel they’ve got willpower and they don’t understand why they’re not losing weight.

“People become desperate as weight can really affect your mental health.

“Then, if they start using it and getting results it becomes an addictive cycle as you get a lot of positive reinforcement from other people complimenting you. It’s like a micro-reward.

“However, there is a risk that people who use them may never really feel comfortable with it, they won’t feel like they deserve it. They might also fear looking like a failure if they put weight back on.

“Even if they work on the outside, on the inside you’re still eating bad food and injecting chemicals. I will never see them as a good thing. Ultimately, there is no alternative to healthy eating and exercise.”

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