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Noninvasive Approaches Target Fat

August 4, 2009 |

When it comes to noninvasive fat removal, a plethora of technologies promise to trim fat from pesky problem areas, such as the hips, thighs and buttocks. But questions loom large, as many noninvasive technologies await regulatory approvals.

“Noninvasive fat removal is now a reality,” says Matthew Avram, MD, who presented on New Frontiers in Noninvasive Fat Removal during the Plenary Session on July 31, 2009, at the American Academy of Dermatology Summer Meeting. “We can remove fat without breaking the stratum corneum.”

But among numerous front-running technologies, more questions exist. Focused ultrasound, high-intensity focused ultrasound and cryolipolysis, all promise to achieve fat reduction without a scalpel. But the degree of benefit is still in question.

For example, focused ultrasound using mechanical nonthermal energy shows fat reductions between two to three centimeters after just one treatment. But Dr. Avram reports there were some limitations with this study: “There were no untreated controls and circumference as a true measure is imprecise at best.” A better measure would have been high resolution ultrasound or MRI.

Other technologies, such as high intensity focused ultrasound, still need more study. An interesting technique developed at Massachusetts General Hospital promises to cool fat to selectively cause fat cell death over a two to six week time period. The technology, however, is more for spot areas, such as love handles.

But while the technology shows promise, certainly some considerations must be weighed as patients opt for the non-invasive treatments: “There are clear, but limited, benefits with noninvasive fat removal,” says Dr. Avram. “It’s not nearly as effective as liposuction.”

Members of the AAD can obtain a copy of Dr. Avram’s handout at

 from Healthy Aging, August 3, 2009

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