By Joan Kron
A low-level cool laser, which presents no risk of burning the skin because no heat is involved, is being studied as a noninvasive treatment for excess body fat. The Zerona device (which has FDA approval for other uses) deflates fat cells in targeted areas, releasing the fat into surrounding tissue to be burned off naturally by the body, according to the manufacturer, Erchonia. A clinical trial found that patients treated six times in two weeks, with no changes in diet, lost an average of 3.6 inches combined in the waist, hips and thighs, versus 0.6 inches with a placebo treatment, says Steven Shanks, president of Erchonia. "The reported results are intriguing," says Brian Biesman, a former president of the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery and an oculoplastic surgeon inNashville, adding that he looks forward to confirmation with a larger, long term study reviewed by independent experts.