How To Reduce Fat Without Diet, Exercise, Or Surgery?

My latest article printed in the Plastic Surgery Post:

We all want to lose fat.  But not all of us want to go under the knife to do it.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, last year 204,702 Americans underwent liposuction, making it the third most common cosmetic surgery performed. This is in stark contrast to 2000, when 354,015 Americans had liposuction, making it the most popular cosmetic surgery of that year.

Our population appears to be getting heavier and heavier.  So why is there such a decline in people undergoing liposuction?
One possible factor is the emergence of FDA-approved, nonsurgical fat reducing devices.  More and more people are having their fat removed without going under the knife.  In 2010, the FDA approved Zerona, the first device cleared in the U.S. for circumferential reduction.  While multiple studies show this treatment to be effective-when combined with dietary changes, exercise and supplements-the ability to control where the fat is reduced is minimal.

The next nonsurgical liposuction device to receive FDA clearance, Zeltiq, was cleared by the FDA approximately a month later.  This novel device reduces the thickness of fat by aggressively cooling it.  Although Zeltiq undoubtedly works, the large treatment head allows fat to be removed from only a few locations, such as the hips and abdomen.

This brings us to Liposonix.  In September 2011, the FDA approved this device, which reduces fat by blasting it with ultrasound waves.  These are the same ultrasound waves that can allow us to see into a pregnant woman’s tummy.  Studies found that after one treatment, patients lost an average of an inch from the circumference of their waist.  This is equivalent to one pant or dress size.  Best of all, unlike Zerona and Zeltiq, Liposonix can reduce fat in just about any part of the body the patient chooses, including the arms and outer thighs.
While these treatments are no doubt popular and effective, patient expectations are key.  None of them will give results comparable to liposuction.  In fact, the variability of changes in the before-and-after photos is huge.  Some patients appear to have dramatic results, whereas others have changes that can barely be seen.

In the end, if you want to get rid of fat, then diet and exercise is the best way to go.  If you’re unwilling or unable to lose those problem areas the old-fashioned way, then liposuction is still the gold standard.  It’s safe, effective and can achieve dramatic results.  However, if you don’t want surgery, have modest expectations, and have $1,000-2,000 burning a hole in your wallet, then one of these nonsurgical liposuction devices may be right for you.

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Posted in: Dr. Anthony Youn in the Media, Plastic Surgery News


  1. Great overview of what is currently available for noninvasive fat removal. But seriously, Dr Youn, you need to man up, stop being so politically correct and actually voice your opinion with first hand experience with some of these modalities. They are unpredictable and even when they appear to work, the results are unimpressive. Aside from diet and exercise, liposuction is the only predictable method of fat removal. At the end of the procedure, you can actually see the fat in the container, take a photo of it and show what you have removed to the patient . There simply is no other alternative. If I as the surgeon I have to convince the patient that there are actually visible results, then in my mind that modality is a failure. Yes, it is just that simple. Why make it complicated?

    Comment by Dr Richard hainer on September 26, 2012 at 1:31 am

  2. Maybe you should read the article again. I mention that the results vary from dramatic to barely visible. I think this is a pretty accurate evaluation of what you see. Of course liposuction is the gold standard for fat reduction, but not everyone wants to have you or I shove a cannula hundreds of times into their fatty tissues. For those willing to take a financial risk and are ok with potentially minimal results, then these nonsurgical lipo treatments can be a valid option.
    Maybe you should write a counter article for the Plastic Surgery Post! It’s published by ASPS.

    Comment by Editor on September 26, 2012 at 2:30 am

  3. Wonderful article Dr Youn , You are an amazing artist/plastic surgeon! I highly recommend you to every one that mentions they are looking to have something done! I still look in the mirror at myself in shock of what a spectacular job you have done on my body. And, you are so right regarding not everyone is interested in lipo that they want more of a conservative method! Take care Dr Youn & see you soon.

    Comment by Mary on September 27, 2012 at 3:32 am

  4. Thanks Mary! I really appreciate all the referrals.

    Comment by Editor on September 28, 2012 at 1:46 am

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