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Experimental device helps tighten loose skin

April 1, 2010 7:19:32 PM PDT
Patients who lose inches with liposuction often experience loose skin afterward. While there are surgeries designed to tighten skin, a new experimental device is showing some success in achieving tighter skin using radio frequency.

Watching Diana Duffy stroll along, with a figure toned in kick boxing classes, you might wonder why she has turned to liposuction. The hidden issue, she says, is a leftover from her pregnancy more than a decade ago -- loose skin.

"It's embarrassing to say," said Duffy. "I got up to 250 pounds. I was very large when I was pregnant, so I had loose skin and I wanted that tightened up."

So she turned to Dr. Howard Rosenberg who is testing a new device called BodyTite. It combines a traditional liposuction wand with a tip that uses radio waves to produce heat.

"Using both liposuction and radio frequency waves beneath the skin, it coagulates blood vessels, it liquefies fat, and it also remarkably shrinks the skin," said Rosenberg.

At the El Camino Surgery Center in Mountain View, Rosenberg begins by marking Duffy's stomach and thighs. Once in the operating room, he begins with traditional liposuction to clear out larger areas. Then, he switches over to the BodyTite device.

He says the heating process shrinks the skin and stimulates collagen growth, which helps fill in and tighten loose skin. A beeping signal on the base speeds up as the tip gets hotter, allowing the surgeon to gauge the heat.

Duffy remains under full anesthetic for the procedure, which will take several hours. It then, takes several weeks for the swelling to subside. But after they are recovered, Rosenberg says most patients will notice tighter, smoother skin, in addition to the reshaping from the liposuction.

"It's just something I've wanted for a long time," said Duffy. "I've tried working out, but that doesn't do anything for loose skin."

The BodyTite device is not yet FDA-approved. Rosenberg is using it as part of an ongoing clinical trial.

Written and produced by Tim Didion.


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