FDA approves new non-surgical fat zappers

Consumer Reports News: September 16, 2010 03:49 PM

Many Americans long for a way to get trimmer waists or bellies without having to diet, exercise, or go under the knife. The Food and Drug Administration just approved two devices that sound like the answer to that prayer, and more are under consideration, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Zeltiq, a thermal cooling device that is already approved to minimize pain and injury during laser and dermatological treatments, is now approved to freeze fat cells under the skin, causing them to dissolve over ensuing months. The other newly approved device, Zerona, zaps fat cells with a low-level laser, causing them to empty during the weeks following the procedure.

There’s no doubt the new devices will generate interest. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that Americans received just under 200,000 liposuction procedures in 2009, and non-surgical interventions are likely to appeal to even more people. But most of the 68 percent of American adults over 20 who are overweight or obese should probably avoid these treatments. The manufacturers say they are designed primarily for people of normal weight who have nagging love handles or tummy fat.

We look forward to examining these new devices more closely in the future, including consideration of some potential risks discussed in the Wall Street Journal article. But even if the devices prove to be perfectly safe and effective for eliminating fat in isolated trouble spots, for those who are overweight or obese, there is still no alternative to diet and exercise. Weight loss drugs are few in number, of limited effectiveness, and one of them is currently under a great deal of scrutiny.

Kevin McCarthy, associate editor


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