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Weight Loss Patches: How They Work? | Farr Institute

By Kire Stojkovski M.D
Editor Jonathan Hoarau Published 05 May 2023
Time to read 8 min

Among the many dieting methods promising quick and rapid results, weight loss patches have emerged as a popular trend. But there’s still some mystery as to if they work and how they help you shed those unwanted pounds.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the ingredients advertised in these patches and if they’re as natural as they claim to be. We’ll also highlight the benefits and potential risks of adding these items to your weight loss routine.

What Are Weight Loss Patches?

Weight-loss patches are exactly as they sound—an adhesive placed on your body to help you lose weight. The active ingredients in these transdermal patches absorb through the skin and deliver medicine directly to the bloodstream [1].

Simply apply the patch to your body in an area where you want to lose fat. Popular locations for application include the belly, thighs, and arms.

Like other diet supplements and weight loss pills, these products typically affect how your body breaks down carbohydrates while increasing metabolism [2].

Weight Loss Patch Ingredients

Most slimming patches include a cocktail of herbal and natural substances to help with weight loss. Some of the most popular blends have the following active ingredients:

  • Japanese mint: The oil from this mint plant can block sugar and starch absorption while breaking down fat deposits, boosting metabolism, and increasing energy expenditure.
  • Green tea extract: Like Japanese mint, this is a popular plant known for its many nutrients and health properties. Green tea can help boost metabolism and burn more unwanted body fat [3].
  • 5-HTP (Griffonia seeds): The limited research available on this plant reveals that 5-HTP can reduce appetite by increasing the brain’s serotonin levels, which could help with weight loss efforts [4].
  • Green coffee bean extract: Animal studies confirm that the chlorogenic acid in green coffee beans, similar to green tea, can affect blood sugar and metabolism and help with weight loss goals [5].
  • Fucus vesiculosus: A brown seaweed that’s used for many medical conditions, including obesity, but there’s no clear data supporting claims of weight loss.
  • Acai berry: These berries are full of fiber. The more fiber you eat, the fuller you feel, which is why many people regard this berry as an appetite suppressant to help lose weight.
  • Ephedra: This plant contains the compound Ephedrine, which burns fat by boosting metabolism. They became popular dietary supplements in the 90s, but after more testing and rising health concerns, multiple countries, including the US, banned ephedra use [6].
  • Flaxseed oil: Many supplements include the omega-3 fatty acid found in flaxseed oil to improve bowel function in the digestive system and support weight loss, but research found only modest results [7].
  • Bitter orange: Analysis finds a possibility of weight loss when consuming bitter orange, but only when combined with diet and exercise. Unfortunately, it can harm people with high blood pressure and other heart health-related problems [8].
  • Yerba mate: The only record of testing completed on this tea is from animals and not humans. The main ingredient in yerba mate is a known carcinogen and is not suitable for daily consumption. But some data show that this caffeinated leaf taken on its own may help some people lose weight [9].

Research results available for the above ingredients only apply to oral administration—adding natural herbs, teas, and oils into food or drink.

There are no findings that show the same health benefits occurring when using a product such as transdermal skin patches.

If you want to learn more about oral dietary supplements and other similar weight loss aids, check out our review of the best diet pills.


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements quite differently than prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Because of this reason, there’s no evidence that weight loss patches work and are effective.

Distributors and manufacturers are the ones responsible for monitoring the safety and effectiveness of their products. Unfortunately, there’s no standard regulation regarding the quality of a particular ingredient included or the quantity inside each patch [10].

However, available testing shows the effectiveness of the oral use of certain herbs like green tea, which is successful in boosting metabolism. Consuming other natural products—green coffee bean extract, fucus vesiculosus, Japanese mint—provides health benefits beyond dieting.

Garcinia cambogia is another example of a popular exotic fruit used in many dieting supplements with positive results when paired with diet and exercise in a weight loss program.

Garcinia extract can be a useful weight loss aid both in moderate and high doses, orally not transdermally

Weight Loss Patches Benefits and Risks

There’s very little analysis in weight loss aids, such as mint patches and similar products. Without more regulation from the FDA, it’s hard to determine the safety of these items, but we can highlight some of the known benefits and risks involved.

Convenient to Use

Manufactures developed weight loss patches for easy and discrete use. Each adhesive skin patch hides underneath clothing while the medication absorbs directly through the skin. This is most convenient for anyone that has difficulty swallowing pills or dislikes the taste of diet drinks and teas.

If supplements aren’t your thing, consider adding one of the best meal replacement shakes to your daily routine as another convenient way to improve your weight loss success.


Dietary supplements, like weight loss patches, are not considered medication; therefore, anyone can go to their nearest pharmacy or online marketplace to purchase these types of items.

Some manufacturers will promote natural ingredients on their labels like green coffee bean extract or green tea extract, but beware. Oftentimes, these companies include lesser-known substances that may react negatively to other medications or worsen existing health conditions.

Always consult your doctor or medical professional before adding supplements to your diet regimen.

Anecdotal Reports of Success

People who credit their success to these weight loss products are not shy to share their stories across popular social media websites, and related links, but these reviewers are not medical experts. They are using affiliate marketing programs to promote retailer sites or their own individual web page.

Paid reviewers share their stories of weight loss, sometimes for a commission and without providing medical evidence. Other advertisers create misleading information to post on fake blogs and news websites to sell their diet products [11].

Unregulated, Like Most Weight Loss Products

The FDA does not consider dietary aides, such as weight loss patches, to be drugs; therefore, these products are not put through the same regulatory requirements as other medications.

Supplements inspected by the FDA are only reviewed for safety but not effectiveness. However, after product development, they have the power to take items off the market if they prove to be unsafe, but only after evidence surfaces that the ingredient involved caused significant harm [12].

Limited Research

When it comes to digging up relevant medical content on weight loss patches, testing is very limited. Some research confirms certain patches that contain ingredients like green tea extract can have a therapeutic effect on obese mice, but those same studies are not applied to human testing [13].

While the natural ingredients included may seem safe at first, they can be quite harmful to certain people. 5-HTP, for example, is found in nature but is linked to a rare blood disorder. People looking for a long-term remedy to weight loss are not advised to use this product [14].

There’s far more research on traditional weight loss techniques and lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet and a regular exercise plan.

Once weight loss has been achieved, a very-low-calorie diet is best in maintaining the weight loss on a long-term basis


We wanted to cover all the bases to give you the most comprehensive review. Here are some other questions we’ve discovered during our investigation.

Do Weight Loss Patches Have Side Effects?

Because of the limited testing and lack of FDA regulation, the side effects of weight loss patches are mostly unknown. What we do know is how some of the individual ingredients affect the body, including:

  • Increased heart rate.
  • Digestion issues.
  • Headaches.
  • Insomnia.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Dehydration.
  • Anxiety.
  • Fatigue.

A variety of herbs and plants make up the contents found inside slimming patches. If you’re curious about how one of these blended formulas could affect you, it’s advised to look up each active ingredient to determine the potential side effects.

How Do I Use Weight Loss Patches?

To use a weight loss patch, simply apply it to your body. Most people apply patches to problem areas such as the stomach, arms, and thighs. The ingredients inside the patch are then absorbed into your skin.

Some patches require they stay on your body for up to 24 hours. Others only need 7-10 hours for absorption. It’s also essential that the patch remains dry for the duration of use.

Are Weight Loss Patches Safe to Try?

There’s still quite a bit of uncertainty revolving around weight loss aids. Many have not been adequately tested for safety, or they include ingredients proven to be dangerous. Some items labeled as natural, contain chemicals or prescription drugs that have negative effects.

By wearing patches, you’re allowing ingredients, natural or otherwise, to absorb into your body. Until more research occurs, it’s better to speak with your doctor before using weight loss patches. 

There are several ways to safely shed unwanted pounds, especially if you’re hesitant to try an item like slimming patches or other dietary supplements. Take a look at our complete and informative guide for more ideas on how to lose weight.

How to Choose the Best Weight Loss Patch

Due to the insufficient research available and the variety of patches on the market, it’s wise to consult with a medical professional before choosing a weight loss patch. But, if you’re still ready to take the plunge, here are a few things you should consider. 

  • Investigate what patches are available.
  • Research the ingredients.
  • Be aware of potential side effects.
  • Limit the amount of time you use slimming patches.

If you’re still looking for ways to amp-up your diet routine to increase weight loss, check out our list of the best appetite suppressants.


Do weight loss patches work? The medical community has yet to offer a thorough evaluation of the safety and effectiveness of the weight loss patch. Reviewers claiming to see benefits from the use of these aids are either told what to say by the sellers or they’re pairing the use of patches with traditional diet and exercise.

The herbs, plants, and oils included in weight loss patches may have more positive effects when used orally and in their natural form. But some of those same ingredients can cause harm if combined with other medications or certain health conditions.

It’s best to consult with a doctor or medical professional and disclose all relevant health information when considering any new form of dieting supplements used to lose weight.


1. Pastore, Michael N, et al. “Transdermal Patches: History, Development and Pharmacology.” British Journal of Pharmacology, BlackWell Publishing Ltd, May 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4403087/. 

2. “Office of Dietary Supplements – Dietary Supplements for Weight Loss.” NIH Office of Dietary Supplements, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WeightLoss-HealthProfessional/.

3. Dulloo AG;Seydoux J;Girardier L;Chantre P;Vandermander J; “Green Tea and Thermogenesis: Interactions between Catechin-Polyphenols, Caffeine and Sympathetic Activity.” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders : Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10702779/.

4. Cangiano C;Laviano A;Del Ben M;Preziosa I;Angelico F;Cascino A;Rossi-Fanelli F; “Effects of Oral 5-Hydroxy-Tryptophan on Energy Intake and Macronutrient Selection in Non-Insulin Dependent Diabetic Patients.” International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders : Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9705024/.

5. Onakpoya, Igho, et al. “The Use of Green Coffee Extract as a Weight Loss Supplement: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomised Clinical Trials.” Gastroenterology Research and Practice, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943088/.

6. Publishing, Harvard Health. “The Dangers of the Herb Ephedra.” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dangers-of-the-herb-ephedra.

7. Mohammadi-Sartang M;Sohrabi Z;Barati-Boldaji R;Raeisi-Dehkordi H;Mazloom Z; “Flaxseed Supplementation on Glucose Control and Insulin Sensitivity: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of 25 Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trials.” Nutrition Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29228348/.

8. “Bitter Orange.” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nccih.nih.gov/health/bitterorange.

9. EG;, Heck CI;de Mejia. “Yerba Mate Tea (Ilex Paraguariensis): a Comprehensive Review on Chemistry, Health Implications, and Technological Considerations.” Journal of Food Science, U.S. National Library of Medicine, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18034743/.

10. Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “What You Need to Know about Dietary Supplements.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/food/buy-store-serve-safe-food/what-you-need-know-about-dietary-supplements#:~:text=Unlike%20drugs%2C%20supplements%20are%20not,legitimately%20made%20for%20dietary%20supplements.

11. “The Truth Behind Weight Loss Ads.” Consumer Information, 26 Sept. 2019, www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/truth-behind-weight-loss-ads.

12. Commissioner, Office of the. “Beware of Products Promising Miracle Weight Loss.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, FDA, www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/beware-products-promising-miracle-weight-loss.

13. Miyazawa, Taiki, et al. “Curcumin and Piperine Supplementation of Obese Mice under Caloric Restriction Modulates Body Fat and Interleukin-1β.” Nutrition & Metabolism, BioMed Central, 6 Feb. 2018, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5801844/.

14. “Weight Loss With Herbals & OTC Products.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/drugs/9469-over-the-counter-and-herbal-remedies-for-weight-loss.