Quantification of noninvasive fat reduction: A systematic review

Sogyong L. Auh, Sanjana Iyengar, Alexandra Weil, Diana Bolotin, Todd V. Cartee, Jeffrey S. Dover, Ian Maher, Joseph F. Sobanko, Joel L. Cohen, Emily Poon, Murad Alam

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background and Objective: Noninvasive fat reduction appears effective, but there are various methods for quantifying changes. The objective of this review is to assess comparative utility measures of subcutaneous fat. Study Design/Materials and Methods: Articles describing noninvasive fat reduction were searched using MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL and Scopus electronic databases on two dates (January 28, 2014 and February 16, 2016). Titles of studies and abstracts were screened for eligibility. Manual review was performed by two investigators to detect those that: (1) included original data; (2) were randomized controlled trials, or prospective or retrospective cohort studies; (3) quantified fat outcomes; and (4) enrolled at least 10 subjects. Results: Of 1,057 retrieved articles, 36 met criteria. Most reported four or more measurement techniques. Circumference measurements were most commonly cited. Other objective techniques, like caliper thickness, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and three-dimensional (3D) photography, were also used. Common subjective methods were evaluation of standardized photographs by blinded raters and patient satisfaction surveys. Conclusions: For quantifying noninvasive fat reduction, all available methods had significant limitations: photographic comparisons were subjective; circumference or caliper measurements were confounded; ultrasound was operator dependent; MRI was expensive; computed models and simulations were in early development. As new technologies are developed, the need for reliable, accurate and practical measures of subcutaneous fat will increase. Lasers Surg. Med. 50:96–110, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-110
Number of pages15
JournalLasers in Surgery and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: All authors have completed and submitted the ICMJE Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest and none were reported. Contract grant sponsor: Merz Center for Quality and Outcomes Research in Dermatology; Contract grant sponsor: IMPROVED (Measurement of Priority Outcome Variables in Dermatologic Surgery) group. *Correspondence to: Murad Alam, MD, MSCI, MBA, Department of Dermatology, 676 N. St Clair St, Ste 1600, Chicago, IL 60611. E-mail: m-alam@northwestern.edu Accepted 19 October 2017 Published online 6 December 2017 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com). DOI 10.1002/lsm.22761

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • adipocytolysis
  • cryolipolysis
  • fat
  • measurement
  • non-invasive
  • quantification
  • radiofrequency
  • reduction
  • systematic review
  • ultrasound


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