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Science Specialist Ed Yeates reportingControversial body contouring has become so popular in this country that more than 400,000 people are having it done each year.
In fact, the sculpting surgery that pulls it off is now ranked as the most popular in the world.
With a special report tonight, Science Specialist Ed Yeates is live at a Murray clinic, which this month marks a 20-year anniversary.
Twenty years ago this February, a group of brothers, all M.D.s, began using a procedure here that at that time in this country was only a couple of months old.
Now, two decades later, it's the ultimate "body shop."
Inside the privacy of this room, Dr. David Clayton - like a sculptor about to mold clay - marks off areas on Lori Oksutcik's body.
Two decades ago, when American plastic surgeons began sucking fat cells from the body, it was considered rather barbaric. But now they seem to understand more about human anatomy - especially how fat cells behave.
"How the fat cells are located, how they're held in place. It's been refined in the area of patient safety. There is very little blood loss now where blood loss used to be a major issue years ago," Clayton says.
Three of the Clayton brothers, all M.D.s, who have done this hundreds of times before are about to do it again -- this time on a hopeful Lori Oksutcik.
Weeks earlier, before snow fell, Lori made her decision. Even though she doesn't have a major weight problem, she felt a need to have her body "realigned."
"Some people said, 'you know, you're crazy. You're taking a big risk by doing that.' And then some of my family friends said, 'I think it's great if you think that will help you, you know, to get back to the way you were,'" Oksutcik says.
The procedure is still radical, but the liposuction cannula, the tube that cuts and sucks fat these days, is no longer as large and cumbersome as the older ones.
And surgeons can now use power-assisted or ultrasonic devices which are less damaging to tissue. But apparently what really matters is what liposuction surgeons now call the "artistry" of it all.
"The sculpting of body parts is very much an art form and it takes time to sculpt," Clayton says.
Lori is in surgery for six hours because every half hour or so, surgeons step back to look and evaluate their work.
Lori won't notice anything significant for weeks, but these are the benchmarks patients look for - that so-called subtle sculpting effect that shaves off the bulges.
Over the past 20 years, the Clayton brothers alone have removed 30,000 pounds of fat from patients.
And not all is dumped down the drain anymore.
In fact, researchers are now actually harvesting stem cells from the fat and freezing them for future long-term studies.
"It's conceivable that the stem cells harvested from this fat may be used to regenerate a variety of body organs in the future, such as liver or a pancreas for diabetics, or cartilage for knees," Clayton says.
There's a lot going on at this 20-year anniversary. But still a warning: In Utah, quasi-professionals can still do liposuction. And in the wrong hands, it's extremely risky.
Prices range anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 for various procedures, so choose your body shop carefully.