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Lasers May Provide an Alternative to Liposuction

First-of-its-kind trial demonstrates feasibility of destroying localized fat deposits with laser

THURSDAY, July 23 (HealthDay News) -- In the first trial of its kind, Massachusetts researchers used a laser to destroy adipose tissue, a noninvasive approach that may someday provide an alternative to liposuction, according to a report in the August issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.

Molly Wanner, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues used a 1,210 nm laser at varied fluences of 70, 80, and 90 J/cm2 on 10 mm spots on the abdomens of 24 adult subjects under local anesthesia. Biopsies were conducted at exposed and control sites at either one to three days or four to seven weeks. Nitroblue tetrazolium chloride (NBTC) staining was used to check for thermal damage to adipose tissue.

The authors note that the laser treatments were painful and, for some patients, were further marred by malfunction of contact cooling. At one to three days after exposure, a loss of NBTC staining was observed indicating damage to fat cells, however there was also thermal damage to the skin, believed to be caused by the cooling malfunction, observed in two of 14 subjects. At four to seven weeks after exposure, the researchers observed lipomembranous changes to the fat in 89 percent of test sites and, surprisingly, 33 percent of unexposed control sites, which they speculated resulted from handpiece pressure causing tissue ischemia.

"Clinical trials are merited, using longer exposures, better skin cooling, and larger exposure spots than tested in this pilot histological study. Pain management will be important in such studies," Wanner and colleagues conclude.

Several of the authors reported financial arrangements with companies developing technologies for the removal of fat.

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