Do Diet Patches Actually Help You Lose Weight?

Slimming patches, or diet patches as they are also known, have become popular in recent years. It is easy to see why, as they seem to offer a lot of advantages to the consumer. After all, diet patches are very easy to use; you just stick one onto your skin and then you can forget about whilst the active ingredients enter your system, delivering the weight loss benefits and you go about your daily life.

If you struggle with taking pills but still feel that a supplement will help you, a diet patch seems like a good alternative.


Patches have been used successfully for other issues. Best known is the nicotine patch that many people have used to give up smoking. You can also take hormone replacement therapy, vitamin supplements and travel sickness cure scopolamine through a skin patch, and all these methods are successful. There is ongoing medical research looking at the delivery of many other drugs through the skin because of the many advantages over oral delivery.

Diet patches are not a new invention. They have been around since 2001, so you would think that by now there would be some definitive proof one way or another that they work. However, there is no clinical evidence to support whether diet patches really work.

As with diet pill manufacturers and sellers, some of the people selling diet patches are pretty unscrupulous and you could find yourself paying a lot of money for something that is about as effective as a sticking plaster. There can be some safety concerns too. Some diet patches may irritate the skin or cause an allergic reaction and, unlike supplements that you take orally, diet patches do not have to come with any ingredient information.

Importantly, will this method really work? Can the ingredients in your skin patch really enter the blood stream in this way? The medical research looking into transdermal (through the skin) delivery of medication is facing numerous challenges relating to the thickness of the skin and the physical make up of the medication itself. It seems that not everything can be successfully used in a patch.

So, if you have ingredients that are largely unproven for weight loss, combined with a method of delivery that probably does not work, this whole area of diet patches suddenly looks a bit iffy.

Of course, lack of proof and lack of evidence has never stopped supplement manufacturers before. So why should diet patches be any different? (The simple answer is they are not!)

With all of this in mind, here are some frequently asked questions we often receive regarding weight-loss patches.

What is a slimming patch?

A slimming patch is a small disposable patch that delivers weight loss benefits through your skin! It is similar to an ordinary plaster and you stick it to your skin in a discreet and hairless area such as the shoulder, ankle or hip, changing the patch every 24 hours.

A slimming patch will contain a combination of herbal ingredients said to either increase the speed of your metabolism or suppress your appetite. Typically it may contain caffeine-based extracts such as Guarana or Yerba Mate to increase your energy levels and your metabolism. Caffeine may be absorbed through the skin, so, depending on ingredients, strength may cause a noticeable effect.

Alternatively, a slimming patch may contain something believed to decrease appetite, such as Hoodia, or something said to increase thyroid activity, such as seaweed extract Fucus vesiculosus. This is a very popular patch ingredient. Fucus Vesiculosus contains iodine – a natural element required by the thyroid system. Taking iodine may increase the speed of the metabolism.

However, there are no rules to diet patches. They seem to contain the same sort of ingredients that regularly show up in diet pills and health supplements.

Do diet patches work?

There has been no clinical research into the efficacy of herbal ingredients and their use in diet patches, so it is important to bear in mind that the herbal ingredients may not work as well as the advertisers claim. Not all ingredients are suitable for delivery through the skin and although this technology can be effective for some substances, such as nicotine, hormones and vitamins like b12, it will not work for everything.

That said, some people have claimed to have lost weight while using a patch. And if you make changes to your diet and exercise while you are wearing the patch, you will probably lose weight even though you probably would have had the exact same results without using a patch. Side effects could be an issue because there is simply no long-term safety testing into the sort of effects you can expect from a slimming patch.

How does a diet patch work?

The simple answer to this question is that a diet patch does not work. However, the idea is that a diet patch will deliver all the active ingredients through your skin and then straight into your blood stream, bypassing the digestive system and providing you with a continuous “top up” of effects. Although this sounds good, there is just no evidence that many of the herbal ingredients typically contained in the patches will be suitable for delivery through the skin.

Delivering drugs or substances through the skin is a complex science. To pass through the skin into the blood stream a substance has to have a low molecular weight or it is simply too big to be absorbed. In addition, it has to be an oily substance.

Diet patches contain the sort of herbal ingredients often found in weight-loss supplements, and there is some proof that some of these may help weight-loss. Garcinia Cambogia, Guarana, Green Tea and Yerba Mate, for example, may help promote weight loss when taking in supplement form but there is no evidence that any of these herbal ingredients will work effectively in a skin patch. Some people claim that caffeine may be absorbed through the skin, so you may notice some effects from this ingredient alone. Although not all scientists agree that caffeine can be absorbed through the skin, and evidence is based solely on lab testing, so this point is also debatable.

Are weight-loss patches a scam?

Weight-loss patches are a scam because there is just no evidence they will live up to the claims in the advertising. There have been some high profile cases, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have charged numerous companies offering weight-loss patches for making false claims in advertising. One of the biggest cases was back in 2004 against a company called Phoenix Avatar and its Detroit-based principals who were charged with sending illegal spam to millions of email addresses in order to sell bogus diet patches. This company was making nearly $100,000 per month from product sales.

In 2010 the UK based marketers of a diet patch called Bio Slim Patch were forced to pay nearly $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission for making deceptive claims that the patch (and a herbal tea product) would allow users to lose weight quickly without diet or exercise.

We have covered some weight loss patch scams in previous reviews including Thrive DFT Patch – a weight loss patch sold through MLM that has no evidence it works, yet customers are expected to sign up for a regular monthly order. That sounds like a scam to us!

We have also covered a British supplement called T5 Fat Burner. This employs futuristic sounding technology in the form of magnets. Although it sounds good, it is simply not proven to work.

What is in a slimming patch?

Slimming patches contain the same sort of ingredients that show up in usual weight loss pills and capsules. However unlike supplements, the manufacturers do not have to provide full ingredients information, and it is important to remember that a patch may contain potentially dangerous substances. This is especially the case in some of the diet patches we seen that have been imported from countries like China. In addition, there has been little or no research into whether these ingredients will even make it through your skin.

Common ingredients include:

  • Fucus Vesiculosus: This seaweed extract (bladderwrack) contains varying amounts of iodine, which in turn may have an effect upon the thyroid gland, which regulates the metabolism. However, seaweed extract is not a reliable source of iodine because quantities vary, but the idea is that iodine will increase the speed of fat burning and so increase weight loss. There is no evidence that Fucus Vesiculosus will work in a diet patch. Although it is sometimes applied to skin for topical conditions such as insect bites or burns it is extremely unlikely to be able to permeate through the skin and have any effect at all upon your health or weight loss.
  • Hoodia: Once touted as a wonder weight loss food, this cactus extract has since been discredited, and even taken in capsule form is extremely unlikely to work. Sticking it on your skin is unlikely to do anything, which is good because Hoodia is known for side effects.
  • Garcinia Cambogia: Much touted fruit ingredient that has recently become very popular as a weight loss supplement. Even when taken in supplement form, results are not impressive. Research suggests that Garcinia Cambogia does not cause statistically significant weight loss. It is extremely unlikely to transfer these very mild effects to a patch.
  • Yerba Mate: This is a popular patch ingredient such as with the Slim Weight Patch, but although it may do something if taken in supplement form it is unlikely to work in this format. However, Yerba mate does contain natural caffeine, so it is possible that you may get some effect from this. Caffeine may be able to be transdermally absorbed but there is no real reason why this should cause weight loss. You could after all, just drink some coffee.
  • Guarana: As with Yerba Mate, Guarana contains caffeine. Clinical testing is not conclusive as to whether it can enter your system through the skin.
  • Acai berry: Natural berry heralded as a superfruit because it is high in antioxidant molecules which help the body fight off disease. In addition, antioxidants can support weight loss because they seem to have an effect upon the speed of the metabolism. Although Acai is good for health there is simply no evidence that these benefits can be absorbed into the body via the skin.

Other ingredients may include: 5-HTP, zinc pyruvate, flaxseed oil, lecithin, L-carnitine, zinc citrate green tea extract and white kidney bean extract. All of these are ingredients that may help support weight loss when ingested orally, but there is little evidence they will work in a weight-loss patch.

What are some good diet patches?

Here at the Watchdog we have never approved a diet patch, and in our opinion there are no good diet patches, but of course there are some that are less bad than the others.

We have seen some shockingly bad diet patches on sale via eBay. These are cheap and originate from countries like China – well known for supplements that contain dangerous ingredients. You should definitely avoid these because they could cause side effects. Although it is unlikely those ingredients will enter the skin as described, this technology is unproven and it may actually work for some substances. In addition they could cause damage to the skin.

If you are going to try a diet patch you have to bear in mind that there is not much scientific evidence to say it will work. At best, the only effects are as a placebo. This should not be underestimated, because if you have your brain onside and keep to a sensible diet and exercise plan you may find that the simple act of buying a patch and sticking it on will help keep you focused. A diet patch which contains fruit ingredients and is not too expensive may be the way to go.

If you are looking for a placebo effect then maybe look at Acai Berry Patch from UK company Evolution Slimming. This patch looks safe and contains vitamins which may be transdermally absorbed.

Diet patches are also popular targets for scammers, so it is highly possible you could be ripped off or signed up to auto-ship if you buy without checking the terms and conditions.

Last but not least, a diet patch should provide a clear ingredients profile. You should never take any supplement without knowing the contents, and a slimming patch is no different.

What are the side effects of slimming patches?

Side effects are unlikely. After all, in most cases these slimming patches are unlikely to do anything at all!

However, some customers have complained of various skin irritations located in the area of the patch. There is also a risk of an allergic reaction to ingredients, so if you do experience any strange effects, remove the patch and consult your doctor if they are serious (taking the patch with you).

Some diet patches contain high levels of caffeine. There is some evidence that caffeine can enter the blood stream via the patch, so you may notice caffeine side effects such as jitteriness, sleep disturbances and headaches. If caffeine really does work in this way, do you really want to be dosing your body with a continuous supply of this stimulant into your blood stream? Health advice is to restrict caffeine intake to no more than 400mg a day (the equivalent of around 4 cups of coffee a day).

It is important to remember that weight loss patches have not been tested for safety and may contain ingredients that potentially may enter the blood stream or irritate your skin. Some of the diet patches on sale via eBay originate from countries like China and may contain additional ingredients that may cause unpredictable effects.

To keep safe, you should visit your doctor first and ask for some trained medical advice before you start using them.

Where can I buy weight loss patches?

Diet patches are not usually available from the shops and stores on the high street or shopping mall. Instead they are most easily available online from outlets including eBay and Amazon. In addition, they are available from many MLM (direct marketing companies) such as Thrive.

Although it is easy enough to buy weight-loss patches, it is important to remember that many of the more reputable supplement companies do not actually sell diet patches.

Weight-loss patches are a gimmick that will not work in the way as described and with zero evidence for efficacy and little to no clinical testing; it seems as if diet patches are a step too far even from otherwise dodgy looking supplement companies.

There are a few exceptions. Some companies such as British based Evolution Slimming do sell diet patches, and if you do want to try one out for yourself, we suggest that a company like this may at least have less safety concerns.

Buying health products direct from China via eBay is a gamble with your health that we do not urge you try.

How much do diet patches cost?

Weight-loss patches vary considerably in price. We have seen them on sale from eBay for as little as $4.98 for a hundred patches. This particular bargain basement patch was sent direct from Hong Kong, and we have also seen similar deals from China. In most cases they come with very little information about ingredients, so may cause dangerous side effects.

In general, cheap Chinese and Hong Kong supplements are packaged in 100ct packs rather than the usual 30ct deal.

One popular diet patch on eBay in both the UK and USA is called the Advanced Fucoxanthin patch. In the USA this costs around $14.00 for a packet of 30, with over 3766 packets sold.

One of the most popular diet patches on eBay UK is T5 Fat Burner Patch which costs around £13.00 for a month’s supply.

EBay is certainly the cheapest source of diet patches. Elsewhere you can expect to pay about the same price as you would for any other weight loss supplement. Acai Patch from Evolution Slimming costs £29.00, or around $47.00, for a month’s supply, for example.

Sign up to an auto-ship agreement and the sky’s the limit! For example, the Thrive DFT patch on sale from MLM marketing company will push you into making an arrangement of a regular order with your Thrive distributor, price unknown. Even worse, if you mistakenly order a free trial and sign up to auto-ship that way, the price could run into hundreds of dollars (or pounds) until you manage to stop payments being automatically extracted from your bank account.

Are there any free trials for diet patches?

There are free trials for diet patches out there. But don’t be fooled into thinking that any of these will provide you with a cheap way of trying out a product for free. Although free trials are often offered for diet patches, they are never free, and no matter how persuasive they sound they are designed for one reason only and that is to sign you up to an auto-ship agreement. An auto-ship agreement is where you agree to have fresh supplies delivered to your address each month and your bank account or credit card billed accordingly.

Most people do not sign up to auto-ship on purpose. In most cases the true terms and conditions are buried away in the small print of a website so customers do not realise just what they have agreed to until it is too late. If you look online you will find numerous companies and affiliate marketing sites offering free trials for diet patches.

Free trials for diet patches are sometimes offered via pop-ups and spam email, so are sent direct to your email address. One of the biggest cases was in 2004 against a company called Phoenix Avatar and its Detroit-based principals who were charged with sending illegal spam to millions of email addresses in order to sell bogus diet patches.

The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers against signing up to free trials. Most crucial to this advice is to always read the terms and conditions.

However, we can provide advice that is easier to follow; just don’t sign up for free trials. A reputable company will never offer something for free in this way.

Are diet patches as effective as diet pills?

Diet patches are not as effective as diet pills. Although it sounds like a dream to simply stick on a patch and benefit from a constant delivery of ingredients into your system, a diet patch will not work in the way that the advertising suggests.

It can be confusing. After all, diet patches contain the same sort of ingredients that you can find in a supplement. Some of these such as Green Tea extract, Bean extract, Zinc, Yerba Mate, Garcinia Cambogia and so on do have strong evidence that they can work for weight loss when ingested. However, no study has ever been conducted to tell us whether or not the same effects occur when these ingredients are applied to the skin.

Scientists are investigating the use of skin patches for the delivery of prescription drugs and have found that not everything is suitable. In many cases, components have to be modified at a molecular level to ensure that they can be absorbed by the body.

When it comes to diet patches, the science is simply untested. Until studies on diet patches are actually conducted by reputable clinical bodies, there is no evidence to prove that any of them will work in the way as described.

Can slimming patches help me lose weight fast?

Slimming patches will not help you lose weight fast, no matter what they claim. They will not even help you to lose weight slowly. Diet patches will not work for weight loss, and if you do experience any results while you are using a patch it will be down to your own efforts and not the patch.

Sadly, there are plenty of products out there that simply use unfounded untruths and lies in the advertising. Some of the claims are more extreme than others. EBay is always a good example of overblown advertising claims.

One good example of this is a popular US patch called Fucoxanthin Patch. This patch claims to make you lose between 15 and 30lbs in one month. Other lies are that this patch contains pharmaceutical ingredients, where in fact it is just a blend of seaweed and Hoodia. This weight loss patch will not help you lose weight fast, no matter how much you want it to be true.

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