The Zerona laser device has received an enormous amount of media attention this year for two reasons: one, as reported in a recent issue of PSP, it comes with an unusual but reportedly highly attractive purchase plan; two, early reports indicated the device successfully uses low-level laser technology in a noninvasive body contouring procedure. The claims made in the Zerona marketing push has blanketed the online and print-based media for months, and several high-profile physicians have come down on its side with positive comments and claims that the unit works as advertised.

Wait a minute, says Michael Persky, MD, FACS, who takes the Zerona device to task for claims, as he writes in his blog, that “patients lose 3 1/2 inches to 9 inches (from their waist, hips, and thighs) in 2 weeks with 6 every other day 40 minute sessions (20 minutes on the front, 20 minutes on the back). All patients need to do is lay still and let 5 painless laser lights rotate on their skin (some practioners even treat OVER clothing) like a prom night laser light show.”

Unfortunately, the science of lasers does not support the Zerona’s claims.

As mom always told us, if it “sounds too good to be true, then it usually is”. I am afraid that in my opinion as an expert laser surgeon, Zerona’s claims are too good to be true. I really wanted Zerona to be the real deal, and offer it to many satisfied patients. At $2000 to $3000 per treatment series, the financial incentives are very attractive. I cannot ethically and in good conscience offer my patients a treatment that is scientifically unsound.

Zerona’s 635nm laser cannot penetrate the skin so it cannot have any effect on fat cells. The electron-microsope studies that have shown “microscopic holes in the fat cell membrane and leakage of fat from the cells” were done with the laser DIRECTLY applied to fat cells underneath the skin, with no skin to penetrate. The loss of “inches and pounds”, if any, comes from the manditory Curva niacin supplement drink, diet, and exercise that desperate patients must follow (this explains why there is “loss in areas that were not even treated by the laser). The company claims are that the “laser triggers a response in the body that causes the fat cells to communicate, causing a general effect in the entire body”. Recall that the laser cannot penetrate through the skin to be able to affect the fat cells.

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