The Role Of Non-Invasive Body Contouring Devices

The desire for fat reduction is a near universal one that crosses all age, gender and ethnic lines. From the countless number of diet and exercise approaches to the opposite choice of liposuction surgery, loss of body fat can be successfully done with varying degrees of individual effort. But between these two ends of the fat loss spectrum lies the developing field of non-invasive body contouring. The concept of losing fat without surgery through an external device is both appealing and promising.

External ‘machine-driven’ methods for fat reduction are not new. Whether it was the belt-driven shaking machines from the first half of the last century to sitting in a sauna box and sweating it off, letting something else do the work and hopefully losing weight will always catch the public’s attention. Taking a pill, of course, is the simplest and requires the least amount of effort. But you probably didn’t get overweight or develop those few fat areas by taking pills, so it seems unrealistic that you can lose this fat by pills alone. While science and technology has come a long way, does today’s non-invasive body contouring devices really work…or are they just a modern-day version of the old ‘shaking machine’?

The newest technology for non-surgical body contouring is Zerona. This is an external cold laser that helps make fat cells leaky and loss some of their lipid contents. While people think of a laser as being a focused beam of light that hits a target and causes it to vaporize or melt, cold laser technology is different. It can pass through the skin without injuring it and penetrate up to 5 cms (2 inches) in depth. This can reach localized fat and exert its photochemical effect. The concept of photochemical-induced leakiness of fat cells is a bit hard to grasp but its physics are a little similar to the way cell phones actually work. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around cell phone technology to understand how all these messages and images are flying around and get to their intended recipients….even when I am on an elevator or a plane. But despite my ignorance I have plenty of evidence every day that it does work. So I won’t hold it against photochemical-induced fat loss simply because I don’t completely understand the science behind it.

The effects of Zerona on fat is very short-lived so multiple treatments are needed, spaced but a few days apart. Over a course of several weeks and multiple treatments, many patients have been shown to lose several inches around the waist, hips and thighs. But along with the treatments it is advised to drink water and take a niacin supplement to support the lymphatic clearance of the released fat. Herein lies the important difference from today’s technology and yesterday’s devices of hope…the use of some modest lifestyle changes and good patient selection.

Non-invasive body contouring is not a substitute for what liposuction can achieve or for the large amounts of weight loss that occur from bariatric surgery. Rather it is intended to benefit those who have some stubborn areas of fat that are just not responsive to what you can do at home with your best efforts. And for those who do not feel they have enough of a fat problem to justify surgery or want to do anything to try and avoid that solution. By using these criteria, most patients that use Zerona have more modest fat collections. This size of the problem and the modest lifestyle changes that are part of the program account for the generalized success and satisfaction that occurs from this non-invasive body contouring device.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana