Non-invasive body sculpting is shaping up to be the next frontier in body contouring. Traditionally, plastic surgeons rely on variations of liposuction procedures to treat problematic fat tissue, but they may soon have a new, non-invasive technology at their disposal. Though not approved yet by the FDA for use in the United States, focused ultrasound devices, such as one's manufactured by UltraShape and LipoSonix, aim to achieve targeted reduction of fat tissue by focusing ultrasound energy that causes permanent disruption of fat cells without damage to the epidermis, dermis or underlying tissues and organs.

The LipoSonix and UltraShape Contour I systems deliver low intensity ultrasound waves via a hand held device across the skin surface. The ultrasonic waves focus their energy in the subcutaneous fat. The sound waves hit the fat cells under the skin, causing them vibrate and break up the cell membranes. The destroyed fat cells are then carried to the liver, where they are metabolized. The procedure is performed in an office-based environment, lasts about 30 minutes, and requires no anesthesia or sedation. After the treatment, patients would be able to resume their daily routines.

This technology is not intended as a replacement for liposuction, but as a complementary body contouring procedure that could appeal to a much broader audience due to its completely non-invasive nature. Clinical trials are currently being conducted in the United States to address efficacy and safety. Preliminary clinical trials and use outside of the United States have demonstrated the procedure to be effective in treating small problem areas like love handles or saddle bags.


Many of the topics discussed in this section are procedures or technologies that are relatively new or currently under clinical investigation and may require further scientific study to determine efficacy and success rate.

 These topics are presented for research and education purposes only. The ASPS does not endorse the procedures or technologies in this section.
Physicians using such procedures or technologies are advised to make individual treatment decisions according to their own medical judgment in light of each patient's individual circumstance.

Further, any reporting or publication of the information presented must be done responsibly with full disclosure of its unproven nature.