Focused Ultrasound Therapy
Focused ultrasound is an early-stage, noninvasive, therapeutic technology with the potential to improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of care for patients with obesity. This novel technology focuses beams of ultrasound energy precisely and accurately on targets in the body without damaging surrounding normal tissue. Where the beams converge, the ultrasound can produce precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue) or mechanical fractionation/liquefication of tissue, enabling obesity to be treated without surgery.
Preclinical research and trials in human volunteers have demonstrated that FUS can safely remove adipose tissue. To date, most studies have only been performed in non-obese individuals for the purposes of body contouring. Further studies are needed to evaluate the potential of FUS as a fat-reducing treatment in obese patients.
The primary options for treatment of obesity are multiple and most are not very effective. For severe cases invasive surgery is an option.
For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications and lower cost.
- Focused ultrasound is noninvasive, so it does not carry added concerns like surgical wound healing or infection.
- Focused ultrasound can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue.
- It can be repeated, if necessary.
There is a current clinical trial that is investigating the use of pulsed focused ultrasound for treatment of obesity.
Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement
Focused ultrasound treatment for obesity is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.
Weinstein Velez M, Ibrahim O, Petrell K, Dover JS. Nonthermal Pulsed Ultrasound Treatment for the Reduction in Abdominal Fat: A Pilot Study. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018 Sep;11(9):32-36. Epub 2018 Sep 1.
Winter PM, Lanier M, Partanen A, Dumoulin C. Initial investigation of a novel noninvasive weight loss therapy using MRI-Guided high intensity focused ultrasound (MR-HIFU) of visceral fat. Magn Reson Med. 2016 Jul;76(1):282-9. doi: 10.1002/mrm.25883. Epub 2015 Aug 18.
Saedi N, Kaminer M. New waves for fat reduction: high-intensity focused ultrasound. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013;32(1):26-30.
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