Suck, Cut, Zap or Work It Off – Fat

Obviously, the best way to get rid of fat is diet and exercise. Eat less calories; burn more calories.

But, in our instant gratification world, is that enough? Certainly not for people who have the money to try other solutions. Look at the weight loss business…it’s estimated to be about a $60B a year business.

We’ve all seen the obesity statistics and trends. It’s a huge issue (no pun intended). And, it has a presents a significant burden on our healthcare system today and is a looming issue that will drive future costs.

Are there other options? Yesterday’s WSJ identified two new treatments that cleared by the FDA for “body contouring”. I saw it being discussed on the news this morning, and I’m sure that the companies (and physicians that administer the treatments) are suddenly much busier.

Zeltiq is a company I read about a few months ago. They grab your fat and freeze the fat cells causing them to self-destruct. You may have some mild bruising or redness for several days. They say it takes 3-4 months to see results.

Zerona is a laser based treatment that forces the fat cells to empty. It takes a few treatments a week for a few weeks with relatively quick results. Their trial study had people losing over 3 inches more than a control group in their waist, hips, and thighs (combined).

There are no incisions (compared to traditional liposuction). No downtime. No anethesia. [Note that about 200,000 Americans had liposuction last year.]

These treatments aren’t cheap. Think $1,500 to $3,000 for an area. Obviously, that should allow for some good profit especially as the fixed cost of the machines are paid for with increased volume of consumer usage.

One question I’ve had is what happens if you do this, but you don’t change your lifestyle. If you eliminate the fat cells around your waist and keep eating crap, will you be more likely to get fat in other areas of your body?

The other big question I have is whether simply eliminating fat cells is healthy for you. As you’re weight goes down, will that make you more active? Will it reduce your appetite or desire for fatty foods? Will it decrease your cholesterol level?

Or, once you’ve spent the money, will you feel a greater commitment to keep your body in shape so the body contouring wasn’t a waste of money?

Obviously, this is a big area for pharmaceutical manufacturers searching for a weight loss pill and device manufacturers who keep trying to find new devices that are cheaper and more effective. I expect this to be a hot area in years to come.

From the article, it says that the devices only target subcutaneous fat (the kind under the skin) versus the visceral fat (the kind around your organs that releases fat into the blood stream). So, it’s a cosmetic improvement not necessarily a health improvement.

Of course, don’t get too excited…generally theses are for people with mild extra weight not for obese people.

I guess the final question I would have is what would these companies have to do or prove to make these covered under your health benefits…better health outcomes correlated with body contouring. Possible?

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