Low-level laser therapy is a new subspecialty for the medical application of lasers that provides therapeutic rather than surgical outcomes for many medical indications. Recently, low-level laser therapy was reported to “liquefy” or release stored fat in adipocytes by the opening of specialized yet not identified cell membrane–associated pores after a brief treatment. Currently, low-level laser therapy is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration–approved technology for improving pain alleviation. To explore these data further, a series of in vitro studies on human preadipocytes and institutional animal care and use committee–approved protocols in a porcine Yucatan model and an institutional review board–approved clinical study were performed. Using a 635-nm low-level laser of 1.0 J/cm2 supplied to the authors by the vendor, these studies were designed to determine whether alteration in adipocyte structure or function was modulated after low-level laser therapy. Cultured human preadipocytes after 60 minutes of laser therapy did not change appearance compared with nonirradiated control cells. In the porcine model, low-level laser therapy (30 minutes) was compared with traditional lipoplasty (suction-assisted lipoplasty) and ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty. From histologic and scanning electron microscopic evaluations of the lipoaspirates, no differences were observed between low-level laser therapy–derived and suction-assisted lipoplasty–derived specimens. Using exposure times of 0, 15, 30, and 60 minutes in the presence or absence of superwet wetting solution and in the absence of lipoplasty, total energy values of 0.9 mW were delivered to tissue samples at three increasing depths from each experimental site. No histologic tissue changes or specifically in adipocyte structure were observed at any depth with the longest low-level laser therapy (60 minutes with superwet fluid). Three subjects undergoing large-volume lipoplasty were exposed to superwet wetting fluid infiltration 14 minutes before and 12 minutes after, according to vendor instructions. Tissue samples from infiltrated areas were collected before suction-assisted lipoplasty and lipoaspirates from suction-assisted lipoplasty. No consistent observations of adipocyte disruptions were observed in the histologic or scanning electron microscopy photographs. These data do not support the belief that low-level laser therapy treatment before lipoplasty procedures disrupts tissue adipocyte structure.
Dallas, Texas; and St. Louis, Mo.
From the Nancy Lee and Perry Bass Advanced Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration Laboratory, Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Received for publication May 21, 2003; revised September 4, 2003.
Spencer A. Brown, Ph.D., Nancy Lee and Perry Bass Advanced Wound Healing and Tissue Regeneration Laboratory Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Blvd,.Dallas, Texas 75390-9132, email@example.com