The Skinny on Nonsurgical Fat Removal

It’s a girl’s dream machine- get massaged gently with a warm metal paddle for an hour a week, and melt your fat away.  I’m describing the VASER Shape, a device made by Sound Surgical Technologies which uses ultrasound to literally melt fat.  But does it work?

There are two ultrasound-based fat removal methods on the market today (there is another type of non-invasive fat removal which uses cold to rupture fat cells, but I’m going to stick with heat-based methods today). VASER Shape and Liposonix both use ultrasound energy to reduce fat.  VASER Shape claims to release fat from adipose cells.  The fat is then taken up by your lymphatics, the drainage system which processes extra fluid in our bodies.  There is one published abstract, which is a summary of a study, showing that lymphatic tissue does in fact have more fat in it after a VASER shape treatment, but there is no actual information on what happens to the fat from there.  (See a list of the clinical studies available on VASER Shape here.)   The fat could be removed by your body, as the makers of VASER Shape claim, or it could be processed by your liver and just redistributed to another fat storage area.  We just don’t know.

The makers of Liposonix claim that their type of ultrasound energy actually destroys the fat cells, which are then processed by the body and removed.  The papers published by the makers of Liposonix are available for download on their website.  The studies that are available do show actual fat cells ruptured by Liposonix.

So do these methods actually work for fat reduction?  Both VASER shape and Liposonix have published studies showing modest fat reduction (think 1-2 cm around the waist, after several treatments).  Price ranges in the $1500-$2500 dollar range, depending on what area you treat and how many treatments you have.  The biggest difference seems to be comfort level: VASER Shape is warm, but not uncomfortable, but treatment with Liposonix often requires pain medication.

I think the best overview of these devices comes from looking over real patient reviews- realself.com is chock-full of patient reviews and pictures.  I’ve read over the reviews for both VASER Shape and Liposonix, and they’re both about half positive and half undecided or negative.  I think if you want to try one of these devices, you certainly cannot expect anything near surgical results.  That being said, there is no other way to spot reduce without an invasive procedure.  One type of win-win situation is if you can find a surgeon that will apply the costs of your VASER Shape or Liposonix toward a surgical procedure, if you finish the course of treatment and decide the results are not enough of an improvement.

Have you tried one of these non-invasive treatments?  What was your experience?

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Disclaimer: This webpage is for general information only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any medical illness, or give any specific medical advice. Because medical knowlege is constantly evolving, I cannot guarantee the accuracy or timeliness of any information in this blog.

2 thoughts on “The Skinny on Nonsurgical Fat Removal

  1. I did 5 treatments of Vaser Shape. The first couple seemed to produce negligible results but after that they were pretty much useless. I wish I had put the money into another type of procedure.

    • Our practice offered VaserShape when I first joined the practice, but we have stopped offering it because we just weren’t seeing great results. Thank you for sharing your feedback.

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