Focused ultrasound technology works best with larger physiques

November 1, 2007

Recent studies with the Ultrashape Contour I device have shown success in body contouring, but according to one expert in the field, positive cosmetic outcomes rely heavily on the selection of patients in terms of general physique.

Key Points

Hong Kong - Liposuction is a sure bet for those overweight patients who are looking for a cosmetic procedure to rid themselves of excess and unwanted fat. That kind of procedure, however, is invasive and often goes hand-in-hand with adverse effects. Recent medical breakthrough technologies such as the Ultrashape Contour I can help these patients achieve this end non-invasively, with very positive aesthetic outcomes. However, according to a recent study in Asian patients, not all that glitters is gold.

Study parameters

Results showed that approximately 42 percent of patients decreased in abdominal circumference. Dr. Chan noticed, though, that approximately the same percentage of patients (46 percent) experienced similar results in weight loss, with a mean loss of 3.2 pounds.

"One of the problems with our results is the ambiguity as to whether the decrease in circumference in our patients is due to the weight loss, or is it the effects of the Contour I device? It is not clear how much the low-carbohydrate diet kept by patients plays a role here," Dr. Chan tells Dermatology Times.

He says younger patients and those patients who weighed more at baseline tended to have better results. However, the subjective improvement and degree of patient satisfaction at three months showed that 77 percent of patients were simply not happy with outcomes.

"Our results are very much different from a recent parallel Spanish study done with the Contour I device, conducted by Dr. Moreno-Moraga, in which up to 100 percent improvement was seen in patients. In the Spanish study, there was no weight change seen in patients, but contour results were optimal," he says.

Dr. Chan hypothesizes that the discrepancy between the two study results could be twofold. He says the sheer size difference in the physique of Spanish and Asian subjects may play a role. The other "problem" may be due to the size of the current transducer offered by the Contour I device.

Where does the fat go?

One point that baffles Dr. Chan is the weight loss seen in his study patients. Dr. Chan says the billion-dollar question is: "Where does the fat go once it is destroyed noninvasively?"

Eleven subjects withdrew from the study. For some patients, the procedure was too time-consuming, each procedure lasting anywhere from one and a half to two hours. The other reason for withdrawal was that some patients experienced a lack of subjective improvement following the treatments, Dr. Chan says.

The results of the blood tests following the procedure were normal, Dr. Chan says. Patients complained only of minimal discomfort from the procedure, and the only adverse side effect recorded was the formation of a single blister.

"I believe that the device works to lose fat, but it should be a part of a combination therapy. It does not work as effectively in Asians because of possible design issues; mainly, the transducer is too big. The device might need to be modified to be able to treat patients with smaller body sizes and a smaller physique. This smaller transducer would probably need to focus at a shallower level," Dr. Chan says.

Disclosure: Dr. Chan reports no relevant financial disclosures.