Could Nanoparticles Improve Liposuction?

by Alexandra Kilpatrick

Could Nanoparticles Improve Liposuction?

Professor Adah Almutairi of the University of California, San Diego, made the discovery about three years ago that nanoparticles could improve liposuction.

The normally physically fit professor was on her way to Cancun for vacation at the time. She hadn’t had time to regain her usual physique after giving birth to her son five months before.

“I had about 10 pounds to lose,” Almutairi recalled to Chemical & Engineering News. While landing in Cancun with her family, she remembered thinking, “If only I could melt this fat so I could wear a bathing suit tomorrow.”

The next morning, an idea sprung to mind. The nanomedicine expert knew that gold nanoparticles heat rapidly when exposed to infrared light.

Since the early 2000s, nanomedicine researchers have tested whether heating nanoparticles could kill cancer cells by shining tissue-penetrating infrared laser light through skin and onto tumors where nanoparticles had collected. Once the infrared beam hit the nanoparticles, electrons on the surface emitted heat to destroy malignant tissue.

“So I thought maybe these gold particles could also be used to melt and remove fat,” Almutairi told Chemical & Engineering News.

After returning from Cancun, Almutairi pitched the idea to her brother, a plastic surgeon.

Now a clinical instructor at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, Khalid M. Almutairi commented that liposuction is a well-established technique but needs room for improvement.

The treatment topped the list of surgical procedures carried out in the United States in 2013, bringing in more than $1 billion nationwide, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. However, liposuction received the lowest rating from patients at the online review site RealSelf, with complaints of extreme bruising, extensive recovery times and lumps that had to be corrected by second procedures.

Khalid also explained that while surgeons choose from a few different types of liposuction, most prefer suction-assisted liposuction, in which the physician injects the fat with a large amount of saline solution containing a local anaesthetic and drug like epinephrine to reduce bleeding.

The surgeon then inserts a strawlike needle through the incision to mechanically break up fat cells and suck them out of the body. Unfortunately, this technique sometimes removes connective tissues and nerves by accident.

Khalid viewed his sister’s nanoparticle-based concept for liposuction as a great alternative to this method. Rather than breaking up the fat particles, Almutairi’s technique involved melting the fat by injecting the nanoparticles into the fatty area, fanning infrared laser light over the area and sucking out the melted fat with a thin needle. Fat melts at a lower temperature than connective tissue or nerve cells burn, so the strategy “maintains the integrity of the tissue,” according to Khalid.

Almutairi and her team began injecting 40-nm-long gold nanorods into butter and bacon, liquefying the fatty substances within a minute or two with the help of an 800-nm laser, typically used for laser hair removal. Almutairi and Khalid then filed a patent with help from UCSD and founded the company NanoLipo to bring the technique to market.

Laser surgery expert and NanoLipo’s clinical adviser Richard Fitzpatrick commented that the results for nanoparticle-assisted liposuction performed on animals are astounding. While liposuction typically takes 45 minutes to two or three hours, “NanoLipo could cut the operative time in half and make the procedure less traumatic,” according to Fitzpatrick.

Chief Executive Officer John R. Lyon claimed that eLux hopes to begin a human clinical trial of NanoLipo later in 2014 and the product could be on the market as early as 2017 if the trial goes well.

Smart Lipo is a type of non-invasive laser-assisted liposuction treatment, effective in disrupting fat cells and tissue tightening through coagulation. If you live in Naperville and would like more information about SmartLipo, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!

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