Medical

New Harvard study fights fat with salty, icy injections

New Harvard study fights fat w...
Injecting an icy saline slurry into fat deposits could be a new fat-reduction technique
Injecting an icy saline slurry into fat deposits could be a new fat-reduction technique
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Injecting an icy saline slurry into fat deposits could be a new fat-reduction technique
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Injecting an icy saline slurry into fat deposits could be a new fat-reduction technique

It sure sounds like a pop-up ad you’d see online, but scientists have created and tested a new treatment that melts away belly fat. The new technique, developed by researchers from Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), involves injecting an icy saline solution directly into fat deposits to shrink them by half.

The new process sounds simple enough. It uses a sterile solution made up of saline, glycerol, and between 20 and 40 percent small ice particles, giving it a slushy texture. This mixture is injected directly into fat deposits, such as around the abdomen, where it crystallizes and kills the fat cells. Over the course of a few weeks following the treatment, the body will flush out the dead cells.

The team says that this process could be used to reduce fat stores in basically any part of the body, at any depth, as long as it can be accessed by a needle or catheter. Importantly, it doesn’t seem to have any adverse effects on other tissues, such as muscle.

To test the process, the researchers injected the solution into pigs and monitored the effects over eight weeks. They found that the slurry reduced fat thickness by 55 percent, compared to a control group that received injections of the same solution without the ice particles. No damage was done to skin or muscle, and no side effects were observed elsewhere in the animals’ bodies.

This new process is an evolution of a similar technique previously created by some of the same team members. Cryolipolysis – or “Coolsculpting” as it’s nicknamed – involves running a strange vacuum-like device over the desired area, usually the belly. This chills the fat and kills the cells in a similar way to the new method, but it doesn’t seem to be as effective. It also takes longer to administer – up to an hour – and longer to work, up to six months. The fat decrease is also smaller, at around 20 percent on average, and it can’t reach deeper fat reserves.

The researchers on the new study say that the new injectable method should be faster and more effective.

“The appeal of this technique is that it’s easy and convenient to do,” says Lilit Garibyan, lead author of the study. “With this new technique the doctor can do a simple injection that takes just less than a minute, the patient can go home, and then the fat gradually disappears.”

Of course, the new method has so far only been tested in pigs, so there’s no guarantee that it will work in humans. And even if it does, there’s reason to believe that any fat-blasting effects will be purely cosmetic – studies on CoolSculpting have shown that it didn’t reduce overall lipid levels or improve liver function, so it won’t suddenly make you healthier.

The research was published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

Source: Harvard

10 comments
Captain Danger
Its not how you feel, its how you look!
Jim E
How long until this treatment is available in Tijuana where they’ll be injecting you with cherry flavored Slurpy?
Bruce H. Anderson
If it doesn't damage muscle or skin that sounds like a good thing, especially for the morbidly obese. That might be a real good jump start in their efforts towards better health.
guzmanchinky
This could be revolutionary. Much better than lipo!
Mark Keller
Icy saline solutions injected to remove fat and salty particles injected to kill cancer. Interesting connections.
Douglas Rogers
It will still reduce the load on your joints, a very important health result.
Kevin Ritchey
Does this mean we can get leaner bacon? Please say it's so...
Phileaux
Can it sculpt my abs!?
john@johnread.com
This will soon be available in Ensenada, Baja California, with a reconstructive surgeon named Pedro Cota.

How one looks plays into how one feels about oneself and how others treat one.
Eric C.
All joking aside about taking the easy way out, I have a condition called lipomatosis where I get tons of hard balls of fat just under the skin. It's gross. I hate it. Usually I have them excised, but that leaves scars and I have another condition that prohibits it now. I'm wondering if this will be a viable treatment for those lipomas, to reduce their size significantly. Perhaps with repeated treatments.