A new injection has been developed which may enable fat to be removed without surgery.
The obesity treatment, which has so far been tested in mice, could help to prevent the onset of obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and may also prove popular among cosmetic surgery patients, researchers have claimed.
Developed by scientists at Washington's Georgetown University and published in the journal Nature Medicine, the injection contains a naturally-produced chemical that reduces stomach fat in mice by up to 40 per cent.
Describing the finding as a "stunning research advance", the researchers suggested that it could have major implications for improving human health.
"We are hopeful that these findings might eventually lead to control of metabolic syndrome, which is a huge health issue for many Americans," said lead researcher Dr Zofia Zukowska.
"Decreasing fat in the abdomen of the mice we studied reduced the fat in their liver and skeletal muscles, and also helped to control insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, blood pressure and inflammation," she revealed.
Dr Stephen Baker, a plastic surgery specialist at the hospital, added that the research could have applications in the field of cosmetic surgery.
"This is the first well-described mechanism found that can effectively eliminate fat without using surgery," he said.
"A safe, effective, non-surgical means to eliminate undesirable body fat would be of great benefit to our patients."