High-tech focused ultrasound machine aims to blast away fat

Machine blasts holes in fat layer, eventually causes it to collapse on itself

HOUSTON – Imagine relaxing for an hour while a high-tech focused ultrasound machine blasts your fat. That's the promise made by a new machine called UltraShape.

Vickie Smith was one of the first patients to try it a month ago.

"It might get a little bit warm; it's not uncomfortable, it's not painful, it doesn't hurt afterward. There's no downtime," Smith said.

She said that after three treatments two weeks apart, she lost 2 inches around her waist.

Here's how it works: Smith's fat is bunched up with straps, and then the technician sets the target points. The technician then follows the machine like a video game, zapping each dot with a pulse point of ultrasound.

"We're shattering fat cells, we're killing them, we're destroying them, they're gone and they're permanently gone," said Dr. Lydia Parker, with the Parker Skin and Aesthetic Center.

The machine blasts holes in the fat layer and eventually causes it to collapse on itself.

Parker said that if you regain the weight it will redistribute in other places, but you'll always be relatively thinner in that area.

Parker explains that the body absorbs the fat and eliminates it naturally in the restroom.

Smith said she did have more frequent bathroom visits after the procedure but was pleased with the long-term results.

"I thought it was awesome. I mean, obviously it's a jump start," said Smith. "You still need to exercise and watch what you eat, but if you want to jump start your workout program for the beginning of the new year, why not?"

Right now, the UltraShape is Food and Drug Administration-approved to treat abdominal fat. But soon new devices will be approved to treat other parts of the body.

The cost depends on the size of the area to be treated, but expect a minimum of $3,000 to start.

Several Houston-area offices provide the procedure, including Baylor Dermatology Clinic and Basu Plastic Surgery.