Focused Ultrasound Therapy

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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.

How it Works
Where the beams converge, focused ultrasound produces several therapeutic effects that are being evaluated. One mechanism is the production of precise ablation (thermal destruction of tissue). A second mechanism is the ability to produce mechanical fractionation/liquefaction of tissue, which is a non-thermal process.

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 dietary restriction and exercise, medications and for severe cases, invasive surgical procedures such as gastric bypass.

For certain patients, focused ultrasound could provide a noninvasive alternative to surgery with less risk of complications – such as surgical wound healing or infection – at a lower cost. It can reach the desired target without damaging surrounding tissue and is repeatable, if necessary.

Clinical Trials

There are currently no clinical trials that are investigating the use of pulsed focused ultrasound for treatment of obesity. 

See a full list of obesity clinical trials >

Regulatory Approval and Reimbursement

Focused ultrasound treatment for obesity is not yet approved by regulatory bodies or covered by medical insurance companies.

Notable Papers

Santosa KB, Cederna PS. Discussion: High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Ablation Combined with Electrical Passive Exercise for Fast Removal of Body Fat. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2020 Jun;145(6):1439-1441. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000006827.

Tan JS, Lin CC, Cheng JS, Chen GS. High-intensity focused ultrasound ablation combined with electrical passive exercise for fast removal of body fat. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2020 Mar 16. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000006826.

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.

Guth F, Bitencourt S, Bedinot C, Sinigaglia G, Tassinary JAF. Immediate effect and safety of HIFU single treatment for male subcutaneous fat reduction. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Jun;17(3):385-389. doi: 10.1111/jocd.12466. Epub 2017 Dec 4.

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.

Click here for additional references from PubMed. 

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