Mattituck doc skims the fat
New procedure removes inches, not pounds from the body
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Dermatologist Antoinette Notaro of Mattituck claims there is. She recently announced she now has the equipment in her office to offer that quick alternative to patients.
A noninvasive, low-level laser treatment that emulsifies fat, resulting in a more appealing body, though not necessarily one that weighs a lot less, can do the deed, the doctor said in an interview. She uses a laser with the brand name "Zerona," and that term is used as shorthand for the overall procedure.
The Zerona is a "cold" laser that does not harm the skin but emulsifies the fat beneath it. The body then gets rid of it by excreting it.
People tend to think of weight lost only in terms of pounds measured by a scale, Dr. Notaro said. When dieting, you might lose pounds but not drop in size, as the remaining weight redistributes itself in your body, she explained. If you're wearing a size 16 or 18, you might not see results that will change your size.
Patients pay $2,500 for the full Zerona procedure and another $250 if they want the guidance of a registered dietician in developing an eating plan. Insurance doesn't cover the procedures, Dr. Notaro said.
"I worked too hard building a good reputation," Dr. Notaro said, to risk it on a procedure she doesn't believe in. She said she had done her homework and is convinced Zerona is a worthwhile tool for those seeking slimmer physiques.
Ridding the body of fat, Zerona can enable a patient to lose an average of 3.5 inches, whether or not the patient experiences a weight loss, she said.
The process takes four weeks and begins with initial body measurements. Dr. Notaro then puts her patients on a low-fat diet, requiring consumption of at least 64 ounces of water a day and no caffeine or alcohol. She wants to know they can change the habits that made them heavy in the first place; she also wants to cleanse their systems.
Patients take Curva, a niacin and ginko biloba-based supplement, throughout the program. The supplement is intended to ensure that the lymphatic and circulatory systems and the liver are functioning at optimal levels. Patients are also asked to begin an exercise program of at least 10 minutes of walking a day.
A patient who has failed to make the necessary commitment to the program and has spent the week before treatments in a final feast will be quickly turned away, Dr. Notaro said. A sudden sharp weight gain revealing a lack of commitment to the diet and exercise program is reason not to go f with the laser treatments, she explained.
After a week of preparation, the patient returns for the first of six 40-minute sessions spread over a two-week period. The patient lies naked on the treatment table while the laser is placed so its four arms surround the body but are a few inches from it. The laser center is about two inches below the belly button.
The doctor makes the necessary adjustments and the patient spends 20 minutes on the back and then 20 on the stomach, listening to music. The patient feels nothing, except possibly boredom, according to the doctor.
If patients find the first session or two fascinating, they soon get bored and rely on the music or other entertainment to help the time pass faster, Dr. Notaro said. The patient is able to resume daily activities immediately after the 40-minute treatment.
There are no needles, no incisions and no after-effects, she said. Liquefied fat flows into the lymphatic system and is excreted.
Zerona treatment was initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use with liposuction to remove the liquefied fat. Without liposuction, it's considered an "off-label" use of the device for which FDA approval is pending.
A week after the six sessions are completed, Dr. Notaro retakes body measurements. Some patients lose inches throughout the treatment, while others may take several sessions before they begin to see results, which often seem to continue weeks beyond the end of the treatments.
What attracted her to Zerona was its painlessness. "That's was what sold me on it," she said.
The machine was installed in her office in January, and she pays Erchonia, Zerona's parent company, a per-usage fee, so there was no capital outlay.
Both the doctor herself and some of her staff have tried Zerona, each losing an average of six inches, she said.
A 53-year-old patient reported losing 10.5 inches, the doctor said.
Is the loss permanent? The jury is still out, Dr. Notaro said. It's too new to know about long-term results, but she plans to track her patients and begin to gather data.
It's not for pregnant women or people who have liver or kidney disease or those with uncontrolled thyroid problems, Dr. Notaro said. But there's "no intrinsic danger" from the low-intensity laser beams, she said.
Dr. Notaro describes Zerona as "a good jump-start on a healthy lifestyle" for someone who wants to look and feel better.
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