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Light for fat reduction or the relentless pursuit of lazy

Posted by wmagnus On June - 8 - 2009

Imagine skipping lunch a few times, and instead going to a clinic to lounge for 40 minutes as your fat gently melts away under what feels no different than an old-school heat lamp. With no effort except for turning over in the middle of the process, you relax listening to your iPod while the fat just melts away.

Could it be that easy? That’s what the makers of the Zerona non-invasive body slimming device promise.

Erchonia is the manufacturer behind this device and they claim based on their clinical studies that body circumference can be reduced using a warm red light (635nm for you physics geeks). What this does is cause fat cells to actually leak their contents. And yes, several device manufacturers have pursued ways to make machines to take advantage of this. An unrelated group, Slimray even plans to open clinics across the country to shrink people in just a few sessions.

Erchonia tries to put their best scientific face forward linking to two studies of using laser technologies to shrink fat cells. One study directly demonstrates the success of their technique on 15 patients — a very small group. The other study (as of this writing the link they provide is broken) is a 700 patient study that shows using lasers during liposuction increases fat removal, same principle but it still requires surgery to make it all happen.  Slimray has done a better job of putting the scientific basis together.

His Take: The scientific validity of fat cells leaking fat into surrounding tissue has been demonstrated numerous times in studies both published and presented at meetings. Does this help with weight loss or overall health? Maybe, but probably not. To me, there are a number of bigger and unanswered questions. Is the reduction in circumference sustained? What do people look like weeks later? Does the extra fat sloshing around have any negative effects such as increased blood lipids that might cause problems? And finally what makes a technology that a manufacturer can only find before and after pictures that wouldn’t even last on the BeachBody forums worth spending your money on? As a final method to remove that last little pooch of fat once a workout routine has accomplished as much as possible then maybe, just maybe a technique like this might be worth considering but for the very audience being targeted with marketing the only lasting loss will be in the wallet.

Her Take: The medical laser industry is very interesting, partly because of the physics involved and partly because there are always new devices. As I was doing research on this particular device, I found a press release which said “63 percent of patients lost a minimum of three inches from their waist, hips and thighs.” This piqued my interest. I got out my trusty tape measure for a little experiment. First, I measured myself with my gut as far out as I could push. Then I sucked it in and did another measurement. Would you believe it, the difference was roughly 3 inches. Now, I’m not saying that’s how they got the change; what I am saying is that’s the sort of change they are advertising, nothing more than you would get from certain undergarments. Sadly, like many other devices that have come before,  this device will be over-hyped by providers and is likely to under-deliver results.

2 Responses to “Light for fat reduction or the relentless pursuit of lazy”

  1. Serena says:

    Thank you so much for writing about Zerona. If we can answer any questions you have or if you want to see the scientific studies behind how Zerona works, check out http://www.myzerona.com. If I can ever be of assistance, please let me know!

  2. I think I will try to recommend this post to my friends and family, cuz it’s really helpful.