Nanotechnology has promise in the health care arena for everything from delivering drugs precisely to cancer tumors to cleaning cholesterol hardened blood vessels. Now it may be used for a more controversial treatment, liposuction,
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons describes liposuction as a procedure that “slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits, improving your body contours and proportion, and ultimately, enhancing your self-image.” It is cautioned that lipo is no substitute for diet and exercise, which are the only sensible way to deal with the underlining causes of obesity. It is used to enhance the patient’s appearance by removing unsightly deposits of fat in specific areas such as the abdomen or the thighs.
The problem is that standard liposuction procedures can have side effects. The technique generally involves injecting a saline solution with a local anesthetic and a drug to reduce bleeding. Then a needle with sharp edges is inserted and is used to scrape up loose fat cells which are then sucked out of the body. This causes bruising and even scarring as other types of cells can be damaged along with the fat cells.
When nanotechnology comes in is a new idea using gold nano particles. Gold nano particles are already being used to kill cancer cells. They are injected into the tumors and then an infrared laser is shined on it, heating the nano particles, and thus killing the tumor from within. So why not do the same for fat cells?
The idea is to inject gold nano particles into the fatty deposits. Because fat melts at a lower temperature than connective tissues and nerve cells burn, a laser can be used to melt the fat cells to be sucked out with ease, leaving surrounding tissue unharmed.
The technique has been tried in the lab and in animal studies. Human trials are expected to begin soon. In the fullness of time, a procedure most often used by models, people in the media, and the vain will have a high tech makeover. Of course as doctors of all types caution, it will still not be a substitute to diet and exercise if you want to shed those pounds legitimately.