New fat-melting procedure takes less than an hour

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wwltv.com

Posted on May 2, 2012 at 10:40 PM

Updated Thursday, May 3 at 9:42 AM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- When diet and exercise just won't get rid of some genetic pockets of fat, and you don't want surgical liposuction, you can now turn to new, fat-melting technology that will have you in and out of the doctor's office and back to work in an hour.

Jeanne Boughton has never done any body enhancing procedures, but new technology changed her mind.

"(I have) not only genetic pockets, but I think as a result of child bearing, I have a little space that I would like see a little bit smaller," said Boughton.

With two children and a busy real estate broker's job that pays solely on commission, she can't afford any downtime. So this new technology was very appealing.

"It's non-invasive, and I trust Deirdre and Sarah with their advice and their direction. But I also have to go to work this afternoon, so I can't be in a hospital room recovering from any type of invasive procedure," said Boughton.

At 42, she eats well and walks, but can no longer jog as she did in college at LSU because of a knee injury. So Boughton turned to dermatologists Dr. Deirdre Hooper and Dr. Sarah Jackson for a new quick fix.

"One treatment, one hour, one dress size smaller," said Dr. Hooper, who is in private practice Uptown and is also an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at LSU Health Sciences Center.

It's called Liposonix. It uses HIFU or high intensity focused ultrasound to melt fat. The one in the doctors' Uptown clinic is the first one in Louisiana. Only a handful of men and women have been treated so far. It takes three months to see the final results, but patients can start seeing a difference in four to six weeks.

"I got a text this morning from a patient who had measured her waist and had a 2-inch decrease already," Dr. Hooper said. "So that was exciting."

The fat is heated and destroyed at a precise layer below the skin. Then what's left is metabolized away. In studies, the blood fat levels did not rise. This is not a treatment for obesity or weight loss. It is more for body contouring and to decrease inches.

"The average person does lose one inch, but some people in the studies lost up to 4 inches," said Dr. Hooper.

"The most common complications are bruising, swelling and tenderness in the area. All of these were rated as mild by the patients in the clinical studies," explained Dr. Sarah Jackson, who works at a private practice Uptown and who is also an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at LSU Health Sciences Center.

Right now the Liposonix is only FDA approved for the abdomen area and the flanks, better known as the love handles, but doctors are also using it off label on the inner thigh, outer thighs, hips and buttocks.

This is not the first time Weight Loss Wednesday has looked at the science behind the latest body contouring and fat-loss technology.

You may remember the freezing method, cryolipolysis, called Zeltiq, or devices that use radio frequency to reduce fat and inches such as Exilis.

So which is best for you?

"Unfortunately, none of these devices have been tested against each other, so is one necessarily better than the other? The answer is we really don't know," said Metairie dermatologist Dr. Patricia Farris, who is the national spokeswomen for the American Academy of Dermatology.

The new Liposonix, using ultrasound, boasts that it takes only one hour and one treatment, but it does bruise and is more expensive. Exilis, using radio frequency, cost less, doesn't bruise, but takes three to four treatments. It also tightens skin. And Zeltiq, with the freezing, takes longer in the office.

"You're going to see 1 to 3 inches reduction and you're going to see that over a two to three month period. You're going to see it with more discomfort with Liposonix, more treatments with the Exilis, limited area with the Zeltiq," said New Orleans Dermatologist Dr. Mary Lupo.

While Dr. Lupo has had success and patient satisfaction with the Exilis, Dr. Jackson likes this new Liposonix technology.

"Ultrasound has a clear advance here in that with the ability to focus the ultrasound at 1.3 centimeters below the surface of the skin and create the heat only at that level, you can destroy the adipose (fat) tissue without damaging the upper layers of the skin or the deeper layers below," said Dr. Jackson.

Patients who want Liposonix must be able to pinch an inch of fat. It can not be used over scars, and if you've had previous liposuction, you may not get as good of a result as someone who has not had liposuction. And if you have an abdominal hernia, you can not have the treatment.

"The exciting thing is, is that we now have three options that we know work to reduce fat in the patient who for whatever reason is not a liposuction candidate," said Dr. Lupo.

"I don't think you're going to lose a whole dress size or a whole 10 or 15 pounds in one session with any device, but I do think that if you follow diet and exercise and use these devises just to contour, that they have a place in body contouring," said Dr. Farris.

The new Liposonix can cost in the $3,000 range depending on the size of the area treated. For that one, you only need one treatment.

Four treatments are recommended for best results with the Exilis.

The total cost for all the treatments runs around $1,400.

For the cooling method called Zeltiq, the cost is $1,500 to treat one area of the body.

Click here for more information

Editor's notes: Dr. Patricia Farris is no relation to Medical Reporter Meg Farris. All of the doctors in the story are board certified in dermatology.

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