People who want to lose weight may be on the lookout for a quick solution.

While it’s true that a nutritious diet and a good exercise program is typically the best option, certain over-the-counter (OTC) weight-loss products also make many “lose weight fast” promises.

For example, weight loss patches claim to promote fast and easy weight loss. But do these patches really work, and are they safe to use?

Let’s find out.

Weight-loss patches are adhesive patches applied to an area of skin. Once applied, they’re supposed to transfer their drug or ingredients into the body over a controlled period of time.

Transdermal patches are used with prescription medications as well.

According to the 2015 U.S. National Health Statistics Reports, dietary supplements not containing vitamins or minerals are a common complementary health approach.

The supplements included in weight loss patches include various ingredients that claim to be natural and plant-based. There are also many different types of patches available.

Some common ingredients in weight loss patches include:

Acai berry

Acai is a fruit found on the Amazon palm tree. In recent years, interest has grown in using it as a nutritional supplement because of its numerous advertised health benefits. More research is needed to make any conclusions on their effectiveness, but because acai is a fruit, it does have some nutritional value.

Acai is high in antioxidants. When you consume foods containing antioxidants, you reduce oxidative stress in your body.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes are known to cause an increase in oxidative stress, so there’s a possibility that consuming antioxidants may play a small part in helping to manage those conditions. But how much of an impact acai berry has isn’t clear.

Green coffee bean extract

Green coffee beans are unroasted coffee beans that advertisers claim decrease fat accumulation and promote energy.

When you review the evidence, there’s very little proving green coffee beans or green coffee extract can significantly impact weight loss.

While a very small 2021 study did find that people living with obesity reduced their body fat using the supplement for 12 weeks, there were only 60 individuals involved in that study, and it did not involve a patch.

While this recent research is interesting, much more is needed to obtain clear indications of the effects and safety of green coffee beans.

Garcinia cambogia

From a tree that grows in Asia, Africa, and the Polynesian Islands, garcinia cambogia is a popular ingredient in weight loss patches. The hydroxycitric acid in the fruit supposedly decreases the number of fat cells in your body while suppressing your appetite.

When you eat less, you take in fewer calories and most likely limit the amount of weight you gain as a result. It sounds great — but does garcinia cambogia actually work that way?

The truth is that evidence is limited when it comes to positive effects on body weight, but we do know it comes with harsh side effects.

For example, a 2018 study showed this supplement causes liver toxicity, inflammation, and liver fibrosis. Additionally, you may experience the following side effects with garcinia camobogia:

Because dietary supplements don’t have to meet the same standards for effectiveness that OTC and prescription medications do, the evidence just isn’t there to prove weight loss patches induce weight loss.

Additionally, any studies conducted by the product manufacturers are typically small and do not meet the usual standards for scientific research.

Perhaps some of these weight loss patches have a minimal impact on weight loss, but there may be side effects that overwhelm that minimal impact.

In other words, their benefits don’t outweigh the risks.

Because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate dietary supplements like other drugs, the side effects of weight loss patches aren’t fully known.

Also, different patches contain different ingredients, so the side effects will vary. The best way to find out how a particular weight loss patch might affect you is to talk with your doctor. They can help you decide if the product is a safe choice for you.

Because they’re regulated differently than OTC or prescription medications, dietary supplements don’t have to meet the same safety standards. As a result, many nutritional supplements, including weight loss patches, have not been tested for safety.

What makes these patches potentially unsafe is not just their ingredients, but the purity of those ingredients and the dosage.

Unsafe ingredients

Just because you can buy a supplement from your local store or online, it doesn’t mean its ingredients are always safe to use.

For example, many weight loss patches claim they use natural ingredients from plants. But being natural does not guarantee that they’re safe and without side effects. Research from 2018 explains that many herbal ingredients might present the same dangers as prescription drugs.

In some cases, the government has had to step in. For example, the FDA has warned that many OTC dietary supplements contain hidden active ingredients that could harm you.

In 2021, the FDA issued a public notification advising people not to purchase the Hydro Pinapple Burn supplement advertised for weight loss because it contained the controlled substance sibutramine.

This ingredient can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, which is potentially dangerous for those with a heart condition or history of stroke.

That same ingredient is found in other weight loss supplements on the market today.

If you decide to take any type of supplement, it’s best to check the ingredients and ask your doctor before taking any pills or applying any patches with this listed as an ingredient.

Researchers don’t know for sure how safe and effective weight loss patches are, so if your doctor has recommended you lose weight, you’re likely better off trying tried-and-true methods of weight loss.

That means — you guessed it — diet and exercise. If you follow a diet and exercise program that you create with your doctor’s guidance, you have a much better chance of staying safe, losing weight, and managing your weight in the long term than if you use weight loss patches.

Diet

There are several diet programs available today, and many of them do not promote calorie restriction. Rather, they advise nutritious, whole food choices.

But it can be hard to know which eating program is right for you.

Researching the food plans of certain popular diets, talking with your doctor, and seeking the advice of a licensed nutritionist are all great ways to find the eating plans that will work best for you.

It may also be a good idea to consider your favorite foods when researching a diet. If you consume a good amount of carbs in your current diet every day, you may find it more challenging to stick with a low carb diet. But if you feel that plan is more doable, give it a try.

You may need to try different diets before finding the one that works best for you.

Exercise

Being more physically active while improving your diet can help when it comes to weight loss. Exercise not only burns calories but also builds muscle. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat does.

Besides its weight loss benefits, maintaining a regular exercise schedule can also:

  • Help manage your weight. Even if you don’t have overweight, exercise is still essential in preventing obesity since it helps you burn calories for energy.
  • Lower your risk of heart disease. Exercise improves circulation and heart health by pumping oxygen-rich blood to your body while helping to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
  • Aids in smoking cessation. If you’ve been trying to quit smoking, exercise makes it easier by reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms. It can also help limit any weight gain when you stop smoking.
  • Help manage blood sugar and insulin levels. Exercise can help improve insulin production, which in turn lowers your risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In addition, if you have diabetes, exercise helps you manage its symptoms.
  • Improve your mental health. After you exercise, you may feel a sense of relaxation. That’s because it releases chemicals that can help improve your mood and help you feel more relaxed. It’s also a helpful way to deal with stress and some symptoms of depression.
  • Aid in improving your sleep. Exercise may help you fall asleep faster and help to keep you asleep longer.

Always talk with your doctor before starting an exercise plan.

Weight loss patches have not been proven safe or effective for weight loss.

But if your doctor has recommended that you lose weight, there are a variety of other questions you can ask them to help you along your journey:

  • Can you help me put together a program for losing weight through diet and exercise?
  • Could you refer me to a registered dietitian for help with my diet?
  • Am I a candidate for prescription weight loss drugs or weight loss surgery? What are the side effects for both?