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Assessing Comparative Utility Measures of Subcutaneous Fat

In reviewing studies of body contouring to date, no single objective technique that is sufficient for quantifying noninvasive fat reduction was found.

By Stephanie Grauden | Feb 27, 2018

lsm-16-0273-alam-editedWausau, WI (February 27, 2018) – Currently available noninvasive fat reduction procedures include cryolipolysis, photobiomodulation, radiofrequency, high-intensity focused ultrasound, and chemical adipocytolysis. Studies support the safety and effectiveness of these procedures, but the variability among the quantitative measurement techniques complicates comparison of outcomes across trials. In a recent review published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine (LSM), the official journal of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS), the most commonly used research methods for quantifying non-invasive fat reduction and assessed 36 studies, each with at least 10 subjects, with varying measurement techniques were described.

The review was conducted by Sogyong L. Auh, MD, PhD; Sanjana Iyengar, MD; Alexandra Weil, BS; Diana Bolotin, MD, PhD; Todd V. Cartee, MD; Jeffrey S. Dover, MD, FRCPC; Ian A. Maher, MD; Joseph F. Sobanko, MD; Joel L. Cohen, MD; Emily Poon, PhD; and Murad Alam, MD, MBA, MSCI. Their manuscript titled, “Quantification of Noninvasive Fat Reduction: A Systematic Review” was selected as Editor’s Choice in the February 2018 issue of LSM.

“Noninvasive fat reduction works, providing clinically and aesthetically significant improvements, but the degree of fat change is difficult to measure precisely,” said Dr. Alam.

There were significant limitations observed in all available methods: photographic comparisons were subjective; circumference or caliper measurements were confounded; ultrasound was operator dependent; MRI was expensive; computed models and simulations were in early development. As new technologies are developed, the need for reliable, accurate and practical measures of subcutaneous fat will increase.

Dr. Murad Alam is professor of dermatology, otolaryngology, and surgery; vice-chair of the department of dermatology; director of the cosmetic dermatology and laser clinic; and chief of the section of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery, at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.

Editor’s Choice is an exclusive article published in LSM, the official journal of the ASLMS. View the complete manuscript.

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, Inc. (ASLMS) is the largest multi-disciplinary professional organization, dedicated to the development and application of lasers and related technology for health care applications. ASLMS promotes excellence in patient care by advancing biomedical application of lasers and other related technologies worldwide. Currently, ASLMS has over 4,000 members, including physicians and surgeons representing more than 51 specialties, physicists involved in product development, biomedical engineers, biologists, nurses, industry representatives and manufacturers. For more information, visit

The American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery is the world’s largest scientific organization dedicated to promoting research, education and high standards of clinical care in the field of medical laser applications. It provides a forum for the exchange of scientific information and participation in communicating the latest developments in laser medicine and surgery to clinicians, research investigators, government and regulatory agencies, and the public.

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