Liposuction Goes Nano: Gold Nanoparticles Could ‘Melt’ Away Fat

A technique currently being tested in animals could utilize gold nanoparticles for wight loss, literally melting unwanted fat away.

As unusual as it sounds, gold nanoparticles are already utilized in medical treatments. In some cases, the nanoparticles have even been used to attack and kill malignant tumors. According to Gizmodo, USCD professor Adah ­Al­mutairi and her brother Khalid, who is a cosmetic surgeon, reasoned that the nanoparticles may have applications beyond their current medical uses.

The primary reason that gold nanoparticles are used in medicine is because of the fact that they heat up quickly when exposed to infrared light. Since the early 2000’s, doctors have been experimenting with injecting nanoparticles and allowing them to collect in tumors. When tissue-penetrating infrared light is shined through the skin, electrons on the surface of the nanoparticles are excited, generating enough heat to destroy unwanted tissue, as Chemical and Engineering News explains.

As a nanomedicine expert, Almutairi was well aware of the techniques and their application in fighting tumors. When she went on vacation three years ago and contemplated losing weight after giving birth to her son, however, she says she got the idea to apply the same techniques to liposuction. “I thought maybe these gold particles could also be used to melt and remove fat,” Almutairi said, speaking of the concept that she pitched to her brother upon her return from vacation.

Almutairi and her brother, Khalid, saw the potential in the technology and have formed a company to bring it to market.

Khalid immediately saw the value in his sister’s idea. While surgeons have a variety of techniques available to them for liposuction, the preferred methods involve removal of fatty tissues by mechanical means, which can be indiscriminate in terms of the tissues that are damaged. By injecting gold nanoparticles and breaking up fat tissues with the resulting heat, nerves and connective tissues are spared the damage that mechanical removal causes. Fat melts at a lower temperature than the surrounding tissues burn, so the integrity of the tissue is maintained, according to Khalid.

If successful, there is certainly a healthy market for the technique. As The Inquisitr previously reported, liposuction tops surgical wish-lists in surveys, along with breast enlargements.

Almutairi and her brother established a proof of concept by injecting gold nanorods into butter and bacon. With the use of an infrared laser,they were able to liquefy the fatty substances in just a few minutes. They have since filed patents and formed a company, NanoLipo, to bring the technology to market. Nanoparticle-assisted liposuction is currently in an animal testing phase, and results appear to be highly promising. Human trials are scheduled for later this year, and if all goes well, liposuction aided by gold nanoparticles could be on the market as early as 2017.

[Images via Mizzou and Chemical and Engineering News]