Minimally-invasive body contouring is in high demand these days as more and more people are looking to get rid of stubborn fat, eradicate their cellulite or simply give their body a more pleasing shape. There are a number of fat reduction procedures and products that offer to either destroy or shrink fat cells, all of them ranging widely in cost, downtime, efficacy and results. With so many options available, it’s “buyer beware” when it comes to choosing the right body enhancement solution for you.
Non-surgical fat reduction falls under five categories: cryolipolysis, injection lipolysis, radiofrequency, ultrasound and calorie-restricted diet. In the surgical camp there is liposuction which now offers minimally-invasive options. Cellulite treatments range from minor surgery to smoothing creams. All these categories are discussed below:
The biggest advantage of CoolSculpting® is the reliability factor. Its success can be attributed to the highly controlled nature of the procedure whereby precise timing and temperature create the perfect conditions for cryolipolysis – destroying fat cells by freezing them. The treatment involves attaching a special device to the target zone using a light suction and slowly cooling the area to -11°C. Once the fat cells have been frozen they rupture and die and are subsequently sent to the liver for elimination. The process of Cryolipolysis, rather than heating with RF or ultrasound waves, can achieve permanent fat reduction of your trouble spots by 20-25%.
CoolSculpting® is FDA-approved to non-surgically remove fat from most areas of the body including stomach, flanks, inner and outer thighs, bra/back and arms. Thousands of clinical trials with supporting before/after photos and satisfied patients confirm time and time again that CoolSculpting® works better than any other non-invasive fat reduction procedure on the market. Before considering surgical options for body contouring patients may want to explore CoolSculpting as a safer alternative with no downtime and minimal discomfort. For best results 2-3 sessions may be necessary but in some cases patients saw a noticeable improvement after only one treatment.
Patients who are bothered by excess fat under the chin or “double chin” may be interested in a non-surgical treatment, called Kybella, to remove excess fat and contour their jawline. Kybella falls under the category of “injection lipolysis”, a technique that uses deoxycholic acid to permanently remove excess fat from the target area. Deoxycholic acid is a catalyst for destroying fat cells that is produced naturally in our bodies so it’s very well tolerated and allergic reactions are extremely rare.
When injected into the double chin area, deoxycholic acid slowly dissolves away fat cells while building collagen. The latest clinical trials have shown that Kybella also has a mild skin tightening effects and is suitable for patients when both excess fat and skin laxity are present. Although most people require at least 2 sessions, a significant improvement can be achieved after just one treatment. Furthermore, the fat reduction and skin-tightening effects are permanent and patients will notice a sleeker, more defined jawline and side profile.
Radiofrequency (RF) dominated the market (until recently) as the go-to procedure for destroying fat cells and reducing areas of stubborn fat. The objective of the treatment is to send RF energy deep down to where fat cells are located to achieve lipolysis (cell death) using intense heat. RF technologies vary in how the energy is delivered. Some have direct contact with the body such as Velashape and SculpSure while devices such as Vanquish ME employ laser from a distance to “disrupt” fat cells. The same technology can also be used for skin tightening, using a variation in RF temperature and depth, although results can be lackluster.
Ultrasound is one of the newest players in the body contouring arena but it’s quickly gaining wider distribution either as a stand-alone treatment such as LipoSonix or in conjunction with other modalities. Vanquish Ultra combines both ultrasound with radiofrequency for fat reduction and skin tightening. Futura Fit is a lifestyle and fitness program that incorporates ultrasound and electrical stimulation to eliminate fat while requiring that patients follow a strict diet, supplement and exercise regimen for best results.
Sometimes a fad diet such as HCG will attract attention because it allows people to shed pounds quickly but not necessarily safely. The HCG diet is based on outdated 60-year old research that a hormone produced during pregnancy called human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) allows dieters to more easily access their stored fat and lose weight rapidly. Additionally, patients on HCG must limit their calories to 500 per day and avoid eating certain foods. This highly restrictive diet is not currently accepted by mainstream medical professionals because of its serious short and long-term health implications such as fatigue, nausea and the risk of nutritional deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances.
Minimally-invasive liposuction procedures such as Smartlipo and LipoSculpture use a small cannula to extract fat and claim to have less downtime and fewer side-effects than their traditional liposuction surgery, however this is not always the case. Although they don’t require general anesthesia, both Smartlipo and LipoSculpture puncture skin and carry some of the same risks, such as infection and tissue damage. Another treatment in the minimally-invasive surgical category is Cellfina, a cellulite treatment that works by severing the connective bands that pull on the skin, causing dimpling and puckering. Although not necessarily recommended due to similar risks as above, this technique may be a little more effective at treating cellulite than skin-smoothing products such as CelluSculpt Body Shaper and Cellulite Smoothing Cream.
Each of the fat reduction or weight loss options covered in this discussion has limitations that make other treatments more desirable. Radiofrequency and ultrasound, for instance, are inconsistent and unreliable with some patients experiencing satisfactory results while others seeing no improvement at all. Some methods are even downright dangerous, like the HCG diet or riskier because it’s a medical procedure. Dr. Mosser and his experienced team at Azala Medical Aesthetics feel that safer and more effective technologies are available for contouring the face and body, specifically CoolSculpting and Kybella.
* Individual results may vary, and not guaranteed.