There is no such thing as a “liposuction alternative” because no other fat removal procedure to-date can provide the permanent body contouring results that liposuction can.
However, as a recent article featured in the Cosmetic Surgery Times suggests, advances in non-invasive devices that use ultrasound and cryolipolysis (fat-freezing) technology are showing promise for mild to moderate circumferential fat reduction.
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.
According to Dr. Coleman, who is also a clinical investigator and member of the advisory board for UltraShape, the Contour ultrasonic fat reduction device developed by UltraShape can produce up to 7.6 cm of circumferential fat reduction, whereas LipoSonix (Medicis) has been shown to reduce circumferential fat deposits by only 2.8 cm on average.
“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.”
A published clinical study also 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.