A noninvasive alternative to liposuction might be available in the future. Researchers have developed a medicated skin patch that can burn off unwanted fat such as “love handles.” The researchers found that the medicated skin patch burns “love handles” better than liposuction.

Aside from the new device melting excess fat, it can also treat metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes. How is this possible? Thanks to the brilliant minds of the researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the University of North Carolina.

Special Patch Modifies Fat

According to the researchers, the skin patch turns energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat locally while raising the body’s overall metabolism. Transforming an adult’s white fat into brown fat is a process known as browning.

In the experiment, the skin patch was used in mice. The key finding showed that mice with medicated drugs that promote browning had a 20 percent reduction in fat on the treated side compared to the untreated side. They also had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels than untreated mice.

This new finding was confirmed by patch designer and study co-leader Li Qiang, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at CUMC.

Qiang said, “There are several clinically available drugs that promote browning, but all must be given as pills or injections. This exposes the whole body to the drugs, which can lead to side effects such as stomach upset, weight gain, and bone fractures. Our skin patch appears to alleviate these complications by delivering most drugs directly to fat tissue.”

The study is titled, “Locally-Induced Adipose Tissue Browning by Microneedle Patch for Obesity Treatment.” The other contributors are: Yuqi Zhang (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC), Qiongming Liu (CUMC), Jicheng Yu (University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University), Shuangjiang Yu (University of North Carolina and Changchun Institute of Applied Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Changchun, Jilin, China), and Jinqiang Wang (University of North Carolina).