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Photo by: CN Digital Studio

This high-tech slimming technique promises to help patients lose inches without the drudgery of dieting, with maybe just a little unpleasant tingling. The patient lies on a table-20 minutes on the back, 20 on the stomach-while a red laser flashes from the machine's arms to target and drain fat deposits below the skin. When combined with diet, exercise, and supplements that flush fluid from the body, some people do lose body fat-a half-inch here, a half-inch there-but not the rolls of fat that many want to get rid of. Nobody can say for sure how much is caused by the lasers and how much is the result of diet and exercise (although the laser on its own caused fat loss in a Zerona-sponsored clinical trial). For patients who report no benefit at all from a full course of six sessions costing $1,700, Zerona is, in the words of one critic, "a wallet-ectomy."

Most Overrated Cosmetic Procedures

Joan Kron, Allure magazine

New cosmetic procedures often fail to live up to their original promise. Some may even do harm. We investigate the innovations that you might want to reconsider.

It wasn't so long ago that a woman with a desire to look younger, slimmer, or simply better would huddle with her doctor in private. Now, one demonstration of a new laser on the Today show, and phones are ringing in dermatologists' and plastic surgeons' offices across the country. More and more patients are demanding the latest treatments the moment they hear about them on the news, in the salon, or over lunch with their best friend. Here's the problem with this pioneer impulse: Plastic surgery's past is crowded with operations that were rushed to the public with insufficient testing, or that proved too painful, or that simply weren't as effective as promised. Take it from us, the most dangerous word in plastic surgery may be "new." And unlike making a mistake by, say, buying a pair of jeggings that aren't entirely flattering, cosmetic procedures are often irreversible. Here, a hard look at the choices.

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