“Are non-invasive body contouring devices effective in producing fat reduction?” by Dr. Jag Chana
The demand for body contouring such as liposuction is rapidly increasing with a corresponding increase in the demand for non-invasive approaches to fat reduction. According to a recent statistic from the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery 95,000 non-surgical fat reduction procedures were carried out in one year with this figure only likely to grow. The market for non-surgical treatment is huge with 9.5 million procedures carried out in the United States in one year compared to 1.8 million surgical procedures. The industry has been quick to exploit the market for such demand and there are now numerous non-invasive body contouring devices available on the market. These devices work by delivering an external form of energy which causes disruption to the fat cells beneath the skin.
The attraction to the potential patient who wants to avoid surgery is obvious but the aggressive marketing of such devices can often mislead the patient in terms of the realistic results that can be achieved by non-invasive techniques. The evidence for the effectiveness of these devices is poor and has not been subject to rigorous evaluation in the peer reviewed scientific literature. Instead, patients are subjected to glossy adverts, pre- and post images promoting unrealistic results together with a poor process of a medical consultation which fails to fully inform the patient on the likely results that can actually be achieved.
A summary of the devices available is shown below:
|Endermologie (LPG) systems||Mechanical Action|
|Mechanical suction and thermal|
|Velashape (Syneron Candela)|
Thermage( Solta Medical)
Accent (Alma Lasers)
Vanquish (BTL industries)
Exilis (BTL Industries)
Liposonix (Solta Medical)
Vasershape (Solta Medical)
It can only be concluded that these devices do not provide anywhere near the results achievable with standard liposuction techniques which have been extensively researched and published over very many years. Standard liposuction techniques continue to provide predictable and easily measured results with high satisfaction rates in a single surgical treatment session whether this be with standard tumescent liposuction or with the latest generation of ultrasonic assisted liposuction such as Vaser.
The danger is that as this industry for non-surgical devices expands it begins to overlap with the beauty industry where there is very little scientific evidence for the effectiveness of technologies. Such non-invasive devices are rapidly being taken up by commercial beauty salons to be heavily marketed to their clients. Potential patients therefore need to be careful when ‘buying into’ such treatments not only because the likely result may be very limited indeed but that the standard of advice given by the clinic may not be what would be provided by a fully qualified Plastic Surgeon . Any reputable Plastic Surgeon would be expected to give an unbiased opinion on the likely result that could be achieved by any particular treatment but also offer an opinion on the alternatives so that the patient can make a fully informed choice.