About The Author: FutureDerm is pleased to welcome dermatologist Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. to our staff as a Contributing Writer. For a complete bio please visit our About page.
Ah, yes, the Quest for a Perfect Body.
We’ve talked before about CoolSculpting, and the use of cold to freeze off fat cell. But that stubborn last inch that just won’t budge has a new enemy to fear now. First we attacked it by freezing, now we turn up the heat! Enter LipoSonix.
LipoSonix® by Solta Medical
Solta was incorporated in 1996 as Thermage, Inc., and commercially launched its first aesthetic device, Thermage, in 2002. It went on to acquire many great technologies over the years, the last addition being LipoSonix. LipoSonix was already being used outside the USA for a while. Two generations of the device have already been made; the second generation was approved by the FDA in 2011 for marketing in the USA. It is approved for waist circumference reduction. The second generation provides a larger treatment area, and it promises faster treatment, less pain, less side effects, and better results.
LipoSonix uses “high intensity focused ultrasound” or HIFU. This technology has been around for fifty years, and is being used in treating tumors and atrial fibrillation. Only very recently has it been used in body contouring. LipoSonix uses very high ultrasound energy that is focused about 1-2 cm below skin surface. This leads to the generation of heat in the fat cells, leading to their destruction. The heat is generated by shear forces that cause increased friction between the fact cells. (2) At this depth only fat cells are destroyed, without damaging the skin or surrounding tissue.
A study (1) using a LipoSonix prototype in 2006 found that the HIFU beam is so specific that it only heats the area it targets, leaving the surrounding fat beyond that area, the skin above it, and the abdominal cavity below it, within normal range (no thermal scattering). Histology done on treated and surrounding areas confirmed that change is only limited to the targeted zone. It is remarkable how focused this energy is. This technology is so specific that, unlike Radiofrequency for instance, it does not need cooling of the skin while at work. The skin is not substantially affected by LipoSonix.
The target temperature is reached very rapidly (1-2 seconds), leading to thermal coagulative necrosis and fat cell death. This stimulates the body’s healing response to attract macrophages that take in the damaged fat cells and dispose of them like they would any other foreign body.
As for how the released fat affects the body, it’s the same as with CoolSculpting: the fat does not raise lipid levels in blood stream or affect liver function tests.
About 60 to 70 degrees Celsius (140 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit), restricted to the targeted area with no thermal scattering. Surrounding areas (skin, fat, abdominal cavity) remain within normal body temperature.
- Informed consent and before and after comparison parameters are obtained, including pictures, weight, and waist circumference.
- After lying down, the doctor marks your abdomen using a washable marker. This divides the treated area into sites for placement of the treatment head.
- The treatment head is placed on the previously marked areas. In each area the treatment head is held still while inside it the transducer, delivering the HIFU, moves automatically to deliver the energy. The device then indicates to the physician when it is time to move to the next area.
- You may feel warmth, cold, prickling, tingling, discomfort or pain in the area treated.
- The procedure takes approximately one hour.
The End Result
LipoSonix promises (1 treatment, 1 hour, 1 size smaller* ™).
You will start noticing change about 8 weeks post procedure, but the final results can be seen 3-6 months post procedure. At that point, if you so desire, the procedure can be repeated. After one session, you can expect to lose between 1 and 4 inches in the waistline (go down 1 or 2 sizes).
Depending on your location and the area treated, cost can be anywhere between 1,500 and $4,500!
These are very comparable to CoolSculpting, in terms of being non-invasive, with minimal pain, minimal downtime, and end result.
- Redness: for a few hours.
- Swelling: for a few days. You may be advised to wear pressure garments or to not exercise for a day or two so that the swelling does not worsen.
- Bruising: for a couple of weeks.
- Dysesthesia (abnormal sensation): for a few weeks.
- In good health.
- BMI < 30.
- You can “pinch an inch” of fat in the area to be treated.
- Realistic expectations.
- Not for obese patients (BMI > 30). Does not help in weight loss.
- Not a replacement for liposuction surgery.
- Not intended for:
- Patients who are pregnant.
- Patients who have bleeding disorders, on anticoagulants or platelet inhibitors.
- Patients who have electrical implants.
- Patients who have a hernia.
- Patients previously treated with lipolysis, liposuction or surgery in treated area.
- Tattoos and scars in treated area (to avoid unpredictable acoustic effects). (3)
LipoSonix is a new and very promising method for body contouring. Its benefits have been established by many studies, and many patients are already very satisfied with its results.
Thanks for reading! Remember, stop by elbashra.com or tell your friends if interested in reading about skin care in Arabic!
- PF. Fodor et al. The Precision of HIFU for Non Invasive Body Sculpting: In Situ Measurement of the HIFU Treatment Zone within Adipose Tissue. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 2006; 118 (4): 161-2.
- ML. Jewell et al. Evaluation of a Novel High Intensity Focused Ultrasound DeviceL Preclinical Studies in a Porcine Model. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2011; 31 (4): 429-34.
- KM. Coleman et al. Non Invasive External Ultrasonic Lipolysis. Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery 2009; 28 (4): 263-7.
- E. Gadsden et al. Evaluation of a Novel High Intensity Focused Ultrasound Device for Ablating Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue for Non Invasive Body Contouring. Aesthetic Surgery Journal 2011; 31 (4): 401-10.
Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. got her MD from Kuwait University in 2002, and obtained a masters degree in Dermatology in 2010 from the University of Alexandria. She has experience in various cosmetic procedures, such as hair removal, facial rejuvenation, skin tightening, cellulite treatment, and management of stretch marks. Hanan’s passion for dermatology started on her very first day of rounds, and after being undecided for years on which direction to go, she decided to become a dermatologist. A strong believer in patient education as grounds for a healthy living, she strives to thoroughly explain her patients their skin problems or concerns and the proposed treatment plan. She also runs a blog in Arabic dedicated to spreading the knowledge about dermatology and cosmetic dermatology in a simple, concise manner (elbashra.com). Elbashra (البشرة) is the Arabic word for “the skin.”View all Dr. Hanan Taha, M.D. posts.
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