Last updated on September 13th, 2021 at 03:50 pm

A new trend in the diet industry is the use of weight loss patches. Manufacturers promise customers that the ingredients contained in these patches will help them lose weight and maintain it. The patches are applied on the skin of the areas where people want to lose weight the most.

Clinical research has not confirmed the safety or effectiveness of a weight loss patch. However, there is some anecdotal evidence from long-term users that can provide some sort of trial results.

What is a Weight Loss Patch?

Weight loss patches come in a variety of brands and ingredients. Most are natural ingredients that promise to help people lose weight.

These ingredients include:

  • Ephedra
  • Green coffee bean extract
  • Hokuto mint or Japanese mint
  • Acai and other types of berries
  • Bitter orange
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Green tea extract
  • Yerba mate
  • 5-HTP
  • Guarana
  • Lecithin
  • L-carnitine
  • Zinc citrate
  • White kidney bean extract

Some weight loss patches on the market provide a combination of more than one of these ingredients. The patches release the active ingredients into the skin where it eventually reaches the bloodstream similar to nicotine patches. In the medical world, these types of patches are called transdermal, meaning it penetrates through the skin.

Not every part of the skin is ideal for these patches to be absorbed. It depends on the characteristics of the surface of the skin, its ability for absorption, humidity, heat levels, and other factors.

A great advantage of using a skin patch is that you don’t have to take anything orally and your digestive system is not involved in the absorption of the ingredients. Instead, it goes directly into the bloodstream, which may prove to be more effective.

Since there is limited clinical research and the FDA does not regulate weight loss patches, they are still in their experimental phase.

Examples of Various Types of Weight Loss Patches and How They Work

Although clinical research is limited, these are some of the most popular types of patches on the market:

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The Green Tea and Acai Berry Patch

There is no clinical evidence that backs up the effectiveness of acai berries for weight loss. Green tea does have research studies that confirm its effectiveness on weight loss.

Consuming green tea increases the body’s metabolic rate, helps break down fat cells and decreases the total amount of body fat. Not all clinical studies are consistent, some show weight loss, but others do not.

The Seaweed Extract Patch

Some weight loss patches contain Fucus vesiculosus, a seaweed extract. They contain iodine and Zinc pyruvate that are both known to help maintain a healthy weight. Research confirms that zinc pyruvate helps the body break down fat and thus reduces body weight.

These ingredients are safe to consume in oral doses, however, the patch has not been studied enough for the same determination.

The Himitsu or Japanese Mint Patch

Japanese mint is supposed to help the body break down fat, boosts metabolism, and blocks the absorption of starches and sugars. There is still not enough clinical evidence that confirms this ingredient’s efficiency in weight loss.

The Bitter Orange Extract Patch

Bitter orange extract is known for helping decrease a person’s appetite and increase the body’s ability to burn more calories and fat. There is no clinical evidence to back up the effectiveness of bitter orange extract, but it has been used successfully by many fitness enthusiasts.

Users have reported experiencing a rapid heartbeat, chest pain, anxiety, headaches, joint pain, muscle tenderness, and high blood pressure.

Effectiveness of Weight Loss Patches

Most of these products are marketed in the United States as dietary supplements. They don’t have to meet the same standards for effectiveness as over-the-counter or prescriptions medications.

Weight loss patches don’t have to go through the rigorous testing required by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to prove that they are effective. They belong to an unregulated industry and therefore don’t have a sufficient amount of clinical trials to test their safety and effectiveness.

There is no or little evidence that confirms the effectiveness of weight loss patches. Most of the studies are done by the manufacturers themselves and typically do not meet the standards for formal scientific studies.

There have been cases of the government intervening as with the 2004 case of the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit against a weight loss patch manufacturer that was making false claims.

The manufacturer claimed that the main ingredient in the patch was sea kelp or Fucus vesiculosus and that it was FDA-approved. However, it was not true and the manufacturer was required to not make those types of claims anymore.

With these patches as with other dietary supplements and performance-enhancing drugs, consumers rely on industry anecdotal reports from users who share their experience using them.

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Side Effects

The side effects of weight loss patches are not clearly known due to the fact that they are dietary supplements and are not regulated by the FDA. Side effects can vary according to the ingredients of the patch.

A general list of side effects does not exist. Since all patches have unique ingredient combinations, they each may cause particular side effects. To know how a particular patch may affect you, it is best to speak to your doctor about the specific ingredients it contains.

Your physician should be able to guide you as far as what to expect from the product and any possible interactions with medications you are taking or other health concerns that can interfere with you using the patch.

Safety Concerns

Since a weight loss patch is not under the regulation of the FDA, they don’t have to meet the same safety standards as over-the-counter drugs do. Typically, weight loss patches have not been tested for safety.

Are Ingredients Safe?

Since a weight loss patch does not have to go through rigorous testing, many of the ingredients are unknown. The FDA has confirmed that the ingredients marked on the label are not necessarily the same ingredients that are actually in the product.

There are dietary supplements sold for weight loss purposes that have been found to contain prescription drugs and other dangerous substances. Since it is an unregulated industry, many black-market products make it to the hands of consumers.

You could put your health at risk by consuming a product you don’t know well. These patches can interact with other medications or react to a medical condition you have, resulting in great harm to you.

It is best to always consult with your doctor to make sure the patch you are using is a safe one and won’t interact negatively.

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Ingredients That Are Not Safe

Some ingredients are accurate on the label, but can still prove to be unsafe. Many brands claim to use natural plant-based ingredients. However, that does not guarantee safe consumption.

These “natural” ingredients can still cause serious reactions and side effects. The research that exists about weight loss patches has shown that some herbal ingredients can be as dangerous as some synthetic prescription drugs.

For instance, guarana is a berry from South America that is often included in a weight loss patch. It is known for causing irregular heartbeats and increasing one’s heart rate.

Ephedra is another example of a “natural” ingredient that can have serious consequences. In fact, in 2004, the FDA banned ephedra because it posed serious health risks such as stroke and heart attack, causing a few deaths.

How to Use a Weight Loss Patch?

A weight loss patch can be easily applied to the skin like you would a bandage. You can use the patch on your skin for approximately six to eight hours at a frequency of three to four times per week.

One great advantage of using skin patches is that you won’t put any type of strain on your digestive tract. This avoids potential stomach upset or other gastrointestinal symptoms.


By now you’re probably wondering if a weight loss patch is going to help shed those extra pounds. The bottom line is that these patches may provide active ingredients that are known to improve your metabolic rate, but it is not certain that your system can absorb sufficient amounts of the ingredient to make a big difference in your weight.

There are other methods for weight loss that are known to be effective without the uncertainty the patches have. Before trying any patch, you should always consult your doctor.

Some of these patches may be harmless and prove to help you lose weight, but you will have to try it for yourself and see if the product is one that you can safely use. Slapping on a weight loss patch may seem like an easy solution for weight loss, but you’ll have to choose carefully before introducing this novel idea to your routine.