A comparative histologic and chemical analysis was undertaken of adipose tissue treated in vivo with traditional, ultrasound-assisted, and external ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty. A series of six healthy women undergoing elective liposuction according to the superwet technique using a 1:1 infiltration ratio with the estimated quantity of fat to be removed was included in the study. Four separate regions on each patient were treated independently in vivo with traditional liposuction, internal ultrasound- assisted liposuction, or external ultrasound-assisted liposuction for 7 minutes. External massage was used as a control. Four separate specimens of adipose tissue from each patient were assessed for cellular disruption using blinded histologic evaluation. The remainder of tissue was centrifuged to separate the aqueous phase from the cellular components and then spectrophotometrically analyzed for creatinine kinase and glycerol 3- phosphate dehydrogenase activity as markers of cellular disruption. Histologic analysis confirmed 70 to 90 percent cellular disruption with internal ultrasound-assisted liposuction. Suction-assisted and external ultrasound-assisted liposuction showed 5 to 25 percent disruption, whereas massage controls showed only 5 percent. Only internal ultrasound-assisted liposuction showed 5 to 20 percent thermal liquefaction. Absorbance analysis showed creatine kinase activity (sigma units) greatest in ultrasound-exposed tissue. Both external and internal ultrasound-assisted liposuction gave creatine kinase levels 28 to 33 percent greater than suction-assisted liposuction, which varied only 10 percent from controls. Glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity was 44 percent greater for internal ultrasound- assisted liposuction than that detected with suction-assisted liposuction. Glycerol 3-phosphate dehydrogenase activity with external ultrasound-assisted liposuction and massage did not vary much from each other, at only 14 percent and 11 percent activity compared with internal ultrasound-assisted liposuction, respectively. Histologic and enzyme analysis of the different types of liposuction and their effect on adipocyte cellular disruption revealed no significant effect of external ultrasound or massage on the adipocytes. Further experimental studies are necessary to evaluate the role and efficacy of alternative techniques for body contouring.
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