Laser alternative to liposuction promises to zap away fat

If you're doing your best to eat a healthy diet and stick to an exercise plan but pockets of body fat just won't budge, there's a new treatment option on the market.

The non-invasive, laser-based system called SculpSure was recently approved by the FDA.

"This is actually the first laser we're using to melt fat," said Dr. Bruce Katz, a dermatologist who conducted part of the clinical trial of the system and uses it at his New York City practice, the Juva Skin & Laser Center.

It offers an alternative to liposuction for patients who want to get rid of stubborn fat around the belly, hips and thighs.

SculpSure uses a rack of specially-designed laser applicators to zap the fat in a targeted area of the body without burning the skin. Studies have shown that the treatment can result in a 30 percent reduction of fat.

Unlike liposuction, which involves suctioning fat from the body through small incisions, "We need no anesthesia for the treatment, there's no downtime, people go right back to work after the session. They feel a little tender for a week or so," Katz told CBS New York medical reporter Dr. Max Gomez.

Jackie Akbar, who had the treatment to reduce flab around her midsection, agreed the process was pain-free. "I feel heat just a tad but the cooling that comes after feels pretty good," she said.

A treatment session takes about 25 minutes. But it's not cheap: The cost runs about $1,200 to $1,500 for each area of the body treated, and since it's a cosmetic procedure most health insurance policies will not cover it.

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Patient Jackie Akbar undergoes SculpSure laser treatment.
CBS News