Posted on Jan 15, 2020, 3 p.m.
The Massachusetts General Hospital laboratory that invented cryolipolysis which is a popular non-surgical approach to reducing fat under the skin is developing a new form of this technology to selectively reduce fat almost anywhere in the body by using a safe injectable ice slurry solution.
As published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, although not yet approved for human use the technology is designed for the removal of fat in the abdomen and any other parts of the body that can be reached with a hypodermic needle.
A review of the paper reads: "...this treatment has the potential to become one of the most performed cosmetic procedures in plastic surgery practice."
"The appeal of this technique is that it's easy and convenient to do," says lead author Lilit Garibyan, MD, Ph.D., investigator in the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at MGH and the Department of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School. "With Coolsculpting, which is a topical cooling technique, the patient has to sit there for almost an hour for enough heat to diffuse from the fat underneath the skin. With this new technique the doctor can do a simple injection that takes just less than a minute, the patient can go home, and then the fat gradually disappears."
Because of the minor side effects and non-invasive nature of the procedure has made cryolipolysis a leading technology, but the method is limited by the amount of fat that can be removed per treatment and it is not practical for reaching more deeply seated fat such as that surrounding organs or other body structures.
This new form involves the use of an injectable ice slurry of a sterile solution made from normal saline and glycerol containing 20-40% small ice particles similar to slush in texture, that can be injected directly into fat deposits causing adipocytes to crystallize and die, leading to shrinking fat deposits; gradually the adipocytes are killed and eliminated by the body over a period of a few weeks.
"One of the cool things about this is how the injected slurry causes selective effects on fat," said Rox Anderson, MD, a co-author and leader of the Wellman Center. "Even if the slurry is injected into other tissue such as muscle, there is no significant injury."
According to the study treatment injection into pigs resulted in a 55% reduction in fat thickness, with no damage to skin or muscle at the injection site and no observed systemic side effects or abnormalities were seen, compared to injection with a melted ice solution.
This slurry injection is suggested to be able to target and remove fat tissue at any depth at any location that can be reached by a needle or catheter; treatment with physiological slurry may one day be a transformative approach to nonsurgical body contouring.
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