Although liposuction has long been the most effective means of permanent fat reduction, physicians continue to research new non-invasive fat reduction technologies in hopes of one day increasing the options available to patients seeking slimmer curves and improved body contours.
According to a recent article in the Cosmetic Surgery Times, a few non-surgical devices designed to provide circumferential fat reduction using ultrasound and cryolipolysis (fat-freezing) technology have shown some promise.
Dr. William Coleman III, who spoke at the 2010 joint annual meeting of the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery and the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery, said that two ultrasound-based fat reduction platforms currently being studied by the FDA have achieved circumferential fat reduction without surgery in clinical trials.
Dr. Coleman, a clinical investigator and member of the advisory board for UltraShape, said that the Contour ultrasonic fat reduction device developed by UltraShape can produce up to 7.6 cm of circumferential fat reduction.
“It is intended for reducing localized fat deposits mainly on the abdomen, flanks and thighs, and therefore is not a replacement for liposuction,” Dr. Coleman says of UltraShape’s Contour platform. “However, there are a number of clinical studies showing its efficacy in achieving significant circumferential fat reduction.”
Clinical studies of another ultrasound-based fat reduction device, LipoSonix by Medicis, have also purportedly shown a reduction in circumferential fat deposits by 2.8 cm on average.
In addition, a published clinical study backs up efficacy claims of the new CoolSculpting fat reduction platform developed by Zeltiq, which uses cryolipolysis (fat-freezing) technology to permanently reduce fat cells. According to the study, a 25 percent gradual reduction in ultrasound-measured fat is seen six months after CoolSculpting treatment.
Other non-invasive devices utilizing light- and radiofrequency-based technology, as well as mesotherapy (injection lipolysis), have also explored as fat reduction modalities over the years, however as Dr. Coleman points out, these produce less-promising results and likely will not catch on, at least in their current stages of development.
“Mesotherapy will likely disappear unless it becomes safer and more reliable. Mechanical techniques and light-based devices have limited efficacy, and radiofrequency will have to be completely re-engineered to be successful in this market,” says Dr. Coleman.