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No More Saggy Plastic Surgery: Laser Liposuction Melts Fat and Tightens Skin

Update Date: Apr 15, 2013 10:02 AM EDT

Scientists have found a minimally invasive laser treatment that could replace the "tummy tuck".

Researchers presenting at the Society of Interventional Radiology's 38th Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans say the new treatment uses lasers to melt fat without the risks surgery.

Additionally, the new fat-melting laser lipolysis treatment used in combination with standard liposuction has the added benefit of producing new collagen, a protein that gives the skin its tone and texture. Researchers explain that the laser treatment tightens the skin by causing the skin's collagen to contract.  Researchers said this tightening response could prevent skin from sagging after standard liposuction.

"Many women who have standard liposuction are discouraged because often the skin sags after the fat is removed," lead author Dr. Abbas Chamsuddin, an interventional radiologist at the Center for Laser and Interventional Surgery in Atlanta, Georgia, said in a statement.

"Ultrasound-assisted guidance of a fiber-optic laser during laser lipolysis can be used on many parts of the body and results in excellent sculpting with tight skin," Chamsuddin added.

What's more, researchers found that laser lipolysis removes more fat than standard liposuction. Researchers explain that the laser's thermal energy melts the fat and standard liposuction removes it from the body. 

The new laser procedure could also mean shorter recovery time.  Because the laser uses targeted energy to "zero in" on the fat, it doesn't affect other tissue, thereby shortening recovery time.

Liposuction has been around for more than two decades.  Researchers say many people don't want to try liposuction because they have heard that the skin often sags after unwanted fat is removed, especially in individuals who want to lose abdominal fat.

"Traditional liposuction also has a limitation to the volume of fat that could potentially be removed," said Chamsuddin. "Combining traditional liposuction with laser lipolysis has now been shown to produce well-sculpted bodies with tight skin. We are able to give people things such as a tighter abdomen without the need for surgery."

The latest study involved 2,183 individuals aged 17 to 73.  The participants underwent laser-assisted lipolysis and liposuction on multiple areas of the body, including the neck, arms, love handles, breast, belly, thighs and calves.  Researchers measured the weight, diameter of the area treated and skin tightness of all participants before treatment.  The study revealed that all treated areas showed significant improvement in reducing fat bulk as well as tightening skin.

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