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Make way for the Israeli flab-bustersby Nicky Blackburn** July 17, 2005
Having a thin and shapely body is the dream of many, but dieting is
unpredictable, and the thought of liposuction, with its high costs and
associated health risks, is often too high a price to bear. ***************************************
Now Israeli company Ultrashape has developed a unique new
body-contouring device that "blasts" unwanted fat from the body, notably
the stomach, thighs and bottom, creating the same effects as liposuction
without any of the associated health risks.
The device, called Contour 1, which has already gone on sale in Europe,
is to be launched in the US later this year after receiving FDA
approval. The UltraShape technology is based on focused ultrasound,
which ruptures and destroys fat cells, without damaging any other
tissue. The fat cells are then cleared naturally from the body by the
immune system over the next three weeks, in much the same way that the
body clears out damaged tissue from a bruise. Because of this delay,
only small amounts of fat can be broken down per treatment - some 500cc
of fat at each treated site. Treatments can be carried out every month,
UltraShape describes its treatment as a "lunch-hour" procedure because
it takes a short amount of time, is painless, has no negative side
effects, and can be carried out in a supervised environment like a spa
rather than an operating room. Patients can pop to see a cosmetician
during the day and then return to work immediately afterwards.
Patients who undergo the procedure see a noticeable difference in their
body shapes, with many reporting centimeters of fat taken off the
treated areas. It is not cheap, however. Treatments can cost anything
between $1,400 to $1,700, or more, depending on the size of the area one
wishes to treat.
First sales of Contour 1 began in the UK in July 2005, a month after the
device received CE approval. Before this, UltraShape held clinical
trials in the UK, Israel, Japan, and at two centers in the US in Dallas,
Texas and Santa Monica, California. The trials, which test the safety,
toxicity and efficacy of the treatment, have all been a success. The
studies showed that most people saw a reduction of about 2.5cm. in
circumference after one treatment. Ongoing trials continue in the US.
UltraShape has also carried out trials that show the effects of the
treatment last for up to three months. Yoram Eshel, UltraShape's founder
and CEO, says new trials are now planned to discover how long the
effects last, though he adds, "Technically if you look at the text
books, if a procedure lasts for three months it is likely to last
permanently. The other temporary solutions on the market do not last
three months; instead they might last two to three weeks."
Eshel, a medical physicist, admits, however, that this is not a miracle
solution. "We sculp the body, but we cannot make someone stop eating, go
on a diet, or take exercise. If a patient who undergoes the treatment
continues to eat as before, there is a chance that either the remaining
fat cells in the sculpted location begin to enlarge, or that the fat
will be redistributed to other locations," he told ISRAEL21c.
"You can't expect to stay thin if you eat hamburger and chips every day.
But UltraShape remains a very legitimate part of the whole environment
of improving your appearance."
Since Contour 1 hit the market in July, just under 500 patients have
carried out the procedure worldwide. Eshel believes that UltraShape's
technology has the power to dramatically open up the market for unwanted
Today, liposuction is the most popular aesthetic surgical procedure in
the US, with just under 500,000 procedures carried out every year by
certified plastic surgeons, and a further 250,000 to 500,000 procedures
carried out by other surgeons. Some $1.3 billion is spent on liposuction
in the US every year, making it even more popular than treatments than
Botox, which now brings in $1.1 billion a year.
One of the reasons that liposuction, which was invented 20 years ago, is
so popular is that four liters of fat can be removed in one operation.
The problem, however, is that it is an invasive and often painful
procedure that must be performed under a general anesthetic. It can also
be hazardous since lung tissue and blood can be suctioned out with the
fat. The mortality rate is 20 deaths per 100,000 procedures. Another
problem with the procedure is that it is limited to large deformities.
"If you have a small amount of fat the physician won't carry out
liposuction because it's hard to get a good aesthetic result," Eshel
"130 million Americans go on some kind of diet every year, and only one
million carry out liposuction," says Eshel. "Where are the other 129
million? We know the answer. Most of these people are intimidated by
liposuction. The majority do not want it. Our treatment is not an
alternative to liposuction; it is for people who will not even consider
While dieting seems to be an ideal answer, and probably the cheapest
option of all, Eshel says that diets are often ineffective. "People go
on diets but 90 percent of them go back to their original weight once
the diet is finished. Dieting is also very non-targeted. You might want
to lose weight from your hips, but you lose weight elsewhere instead."
The whole problem with dieting, explains Eshel, is that we have a
certain number of fat cells in our body that are formed in the first few
years after birth. If we gain weight in life, we increase the size of
the fat cells. If we diet, we shrink cell size. To really change the
contour of a person?s body you need to get rid of a certain number of
fat cells altogether so the person cannot gain weight in this place
UltraShape was founded in May 2000 by Eshel and his partner, Ami
Glicksman, formerly a plastic surgeon at Sheba Medical Center in Tel
Aviv. The company was incorporated in Delaware, with R&D in Tel Aviv,
and in its first four years raised $3.5m. from private investors in two
rounds. In 2004, UltraShape raised a further $6m. from Israel Seed
Today, UltraShape's device is on sale in Europe, Asia Pacific, South
America, and Canada. Though sales only began in the summer, the company
now has 15 distribution agreements worldwide, and has sold dozens of
devices worth several million dollars. In September, two months after
sales began, the company became profitable. Next year it expects to
achieve tens of millions of dollars in sales.
UltraShape now plans a round of fund-raising, and hopes to raise $15
million from two US venture capital funds. The round is being handled by
Citigroup and one of the reasons behind the move is to finance
consolidation in the US market. The company is planning to set up
expanded representative offices in the US early this year, and has
already hired an operations manager.
Currently the company has 55 employees, a number that will rise to 100
by the end of next year, says Eshel. Manufacturing is all carried out in
UltraShape is now working on a new application for its technology -
treating cellulite. Up to now, work on this has been going ahead slowly
as UltraShape focuses on its first target market. Eshel promises,
however, that work on a treatment for cellulite - the fatty skin that
dimples many women's bodies - will now speed up. This treatment, which
is patent-pending, will be one of the first effective treatments for
this skin problem.
"Things are progressing as we expected. We have built an excellent team
and are building a strong company."
Reprinted with the
permission of ISRAEL21c. For more than 1,000 stories about how 21st century
Israel adds value to the world,
Visit ISRAEL21c HERE
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