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Monday, 19 November, 2001, 13:25 GMT
'Fat zapper' breaks down flab
"Love handles" can be hard to remove
An easier alternative to liposuction could allow patients to go for treatments during the lunch hour, claim researchers.

The handheld ultrasound device pummels unsightly fat cells - without the need for the resulting liquid to be sucked out of the body using a thin tube inserted through the skin.

The conventional technique often needs to be performed under general anaesthetic, and requires a period of recuperation for patients.

A company called Ultrashape, which has developed the device, say that their technique will cause far less "collateral damage" to blood vessels and other tissues such as skin and muscle.

It will, they say, also allow more accurate targeting of even relatively small areas of excess fat.

plastic surgeon
Liposuction is an invasive technique
However, their machine has so far only been tested on pigs.

It is well-known that ultrasound waves are able to break down fat cells, releasing the fat contained within them.

Some forms of liposuction already employ ultrasound probes to liquefy fat and make it easier to suck out.

However, the Israeli researchers found that, even when used externally, the broken down fatty liquid could simply be re-absorbed back into the bloodstream over the following few weeks.

You walk in, you get it, and you walk out

Dr Ami Glicksman, researcher
They claim that there is no need for patients even to go on a diet for the technique to be effective.

Dr Ami Glicksman told a newspaper: "It is going to be a totally non-invasive procedure - no operating room will be needed.

"You walk in, you get it, and you walk out."

While the inventors say that less fat could be removed in one session, the patient could return for further sessions much more quickly.

'Inherent safety'

Dr Yoram Eshel, Ultrashape's managing director, told the newspaper: "The inherent safety of our method lies in the fact that we do half the traditional job compared to liposuction and let nature do the rest.

"Physiological clearance of the fat tissue occurs over a period of about three weeks following the procedure, similar to the way that the body clears out damaged tissue found in a bruise."

See also:

31 Aug 98 | Health
Fat strikes back
10 Sep 01 | Health
Slimming drugs warning
09 May 01 | Health
Poor body image plagues women
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