The Evidence Behind Noninvasive Body Contouring Devices
Mr Nassab reviews the latest technologies for non-surgical body contouring in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. This article was featured as the Editor’s Choice in the gold journal in March 2015. The demand for body contouring is rapidly increasing, and interest in noninvasive approaches has also grown. According to the statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 9.5 million nonsurgical procedures were performed in 2013, compared with only 1.8 million surgical procedures. In 2013, almost 95,000 nonsurgical fat reduction procedures and 294,000 nonsurgical skin-tightening procedures were performed in the United States.
We reviewed the published scientific literature for evidence supporting the benefits of these devices. The general mechanism of these devices relies on the use of an externally applied energy to cause adipocyte disruption or apoptosis. This study explored fat reduction using mechanical suction, radiofrequency, ultrasound, cryolipolysis and laser devices.
There is generally not much in the way of high-level evidence to support the use of any of the noninvasive body contouring devices. The research papers that have been published are often supported by the companies that manufacture the machines or are authored by investigators who have financial interests in the companies. The majority of studies also had very short-term follow-up periods with no long-term evaluation of the duration of the treatment results. The majority of studies failed to account for patient variables, such as generalized weight loss from lifestyle changes, that can contribute to reductions in measurements and affect outcomes. There are some small studies supporting positive outcomes with some devices with short-term follow-up.
The noninvasive device market needs further studies to evaluate these devices. There is a need for larger studies with much longer follow-up to fully evaluate the benefits of these devices for fat reduction. Studies are also needed to compare and contrast devices to identify which technology provides the most benefit in terms of outcomes for patients.
Watch Mr Nassab discuss this paper on YouTube here.