I have had many question about the Zerona body contouring system and if it works. The premise of this device is to use low level light therapy to get your body to dissolve fat. This means using power level equivalent to a laser pointer on the skin and expecting that this will remove fat. I have to agree that a no downtime, completely non invasive liposuction procedure does sounds great, but unfortunately it just does not work.
I recent returned from a Laser Therapy meeting a Harvard and had a discussion with several of my colleagues about the subject. These are guys from Harvard, MIT and UC Davis who are much smarter than myself when it comes to understand the engineering behind these devices. The simple fact is that this device will not penetrate much deeper than 1cm into the tissue. It defies the laws of light based physics with the energy and type of power source they are using.
After reviewing the data on their site there are a few things to keep in mind. First is that circumferential body measurements (literally taking a measuring tape around the body part in question) are notoriously inaccurate. Simply adding a little more force on the measuring tape can decrease the measurement several inches. If Zerona really wanted to measure fat loss in an area they needed to do an MRI. The second is that their own data show the device does not penetrate more that about 1 cm. The total girth loss in their study was a little over an inch (or about 1cm from both sides). The slides they show with the fat breaking up are realistic but remember that this is very superficial. Most fat pads in the body are from 6 to 10 cm thick for people who are not overweight. For those that are overweight or obese the Zerona device is truly useless.
So then how does this compare to Smartlipo™ and traditional liposuction? It truth is that it does not compare. The pictures I have seen on Zerona’s websites are less than impressive. They have large lighting and positioning changes. Even with those camera tricks, they do not show much improvement at all. My patient would be asking for their money back if I provided them with those type of results. I have seen other Zerona before and after pictures floating around the web that show amazing results. Those are either altered with Photoshop or they are the results of a different procedure.
Smartlipo™ and traditional liposuction are still the standard of care. We have now performed well over 100 Smartlipo™ cases and the procedure really does have much shorter downtime than traditional liposuction. There is much less bleeding which leads to less bruising and swelling. The lower cost and safety of the Smartlipo™ procedure also make it very attractive. A study presented at the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery last year showed that SmartLipo produced about twice as much tightening when compared to traditional liposuction. The Smartlipo™ procedure will take slightly longer to do and is best for those with body masses indexes below about 30. Overall, given two good surgeons that perform the procedures well, the final results of Smartlipo™ and traditional lipo are about equal but the Smartlipo™ will cost a bit less and achieve faster results.