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Focused Ultrasound Therapy

Focused ultrasound is a rapidly evolving, 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. A third mechanism that has shown promise in preclinical research is focused ultrasound stimulation of liver cells.

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

Filippou A, Louca I, Damianou C. Characterization of a fat tissue mimicking material for high intensity focused ultrasound applications. J Ultrasound. 2023 Jun;26(2):505-515. doi: 10.1007/s40477-022-00746-4. Epub 2022 Nov 21. PMID: 36414928 

Badran S, Doi SA, Iskeirjeh S, Aljassem G, Jafarian N, Clark J, Habib AM, Glass GE. Metabolic changes after nonsurgical fat removal: A dose response meta-analysis. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg. 2023 Feb;77:68-77. doi: 10.1016/j.bjps.2022.10.054. Epub 2022 Nov 11.

Byun KA, Park HJ, Oh S, Batsukh S, Sun HJ, Kim T, Kim S, Kang D, Son KH, Byun K. High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound Decreases Subcutaneous Fat Tissue Thickness by Increasing Apoptosis and Autophagy. Biomolecules. 2023 Feb 18;13(2):392. doi: 10.3390/biom13020392.

Swietlik JF, Knott EA, Longo KC, Zlevor AM, Zhang X, Laeseke PF, Reeder SB, Xu Z, Lee FT Jr, Ziemlewicz TJ. Histotripsy of Subcutaneous Fat in a Live Porcine Model. Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol. 2023 Jan;46(1):120-127. doi: 10.1007/s00270-022-03262-4. Epub 2022 Sep 12.

Filippou A, Damianou C. Experimental evaluation of high intensity focused ultrasound for fat reduction of ex vivo porcine adipose tissue. J Ultrasound. 2022 Dec;25(4):815-825. doi: 10.1007/s40477-022-00663-6. Epub 2022 Feb 1.

Mortazavi S, Mokhtari-Dizaji M. Numerical study of high-intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) in fat reduction. Skin Res Technol. 2023 Jan;29(1):e13280. doi: 10.1111/srt.13280.

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.

Lee HJ, Lee JH, Bang CH, Jung JY, Park YM. High-intensity focused ultrasound treatment for excessive subcutaneous fat in abdomen, upper arms, and thigh: A pilot study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2022 May;21(5):2009-2014. doi: 10.1111/jocd.14801. Epub 2022 Feb 9.

Huerta TS, Devarajan A, Tsaava T, Rishi A, Cotero V, Puleo C, Ashe J, Coleman TR, Chang EH, Tracey KJ, Chavan SS. Targeted peripheral focused ultrasound stimulation attenuates obesity-induced metabolic and inflammatory dysfunctions. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 3;11(1):5083. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-84330-6.

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. 

Clinical Trials