Surgery was once the only option to reduce fatty trouble spots that wouldn’t budge with diet or exercise. We look at the new non-surgical solutions to permanent fat reduction.
There’s nothing more frustrating than to watch what you eat and drink and exercise regularly (even when you’d rather stick pins in your eyes) than to have fatty trouble spots that just won’t budge. The ones that might be smaller for the effort but remain relatively bigger than everywhere else!
We’re talking “love handles”, “mummy tummies”, “muffin tops”, “spare tyres”, “tuckshop lady arms”, “thunder thighs”, “chicken fillets” under your bra line … the list goes on.
Spot fat reduction isn’t possible through diet and exercise. Moreover, when you go to great lengths to get rid of your particular trouble spots, you’ll probably find that you create more trouble – eg. losing weight in areas you don’t want, such as the face (ageing) or bust (deflating) – but the niggling spots continue to niggle.
Surgical procedures such a liposuction were once the only option to resolve this dilemma. Now permanent reduction of fatty trouble spots is possible with a variety of non-surgical techniques.
Unlike body wraps and fancy schmancy machines in salons that basically stimulate drainage of excess fluid (hence a short-term result), these technologies provide significant and lasting fat reduction, enabling you to “design” your ideal body shape.
It’s important for patients to understand, though, that non-surgical body-contouring is not designed for weight reduction or as a treatment for obesity. To maintain results, you have to keep up the good work of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
If you think you can rest on your laurels and pig out because the trouble spots have finally gone, you may well discover that fat cells in other parts of your body celebrate by getting bigger – hello, new trouble spots!
The use of energy sources such as ultrasound (sound waves), radio frequency and infrared at low frequency has been proven successful in reducing unwanted local fat deposits.
There are a number systems offering this process – brand names include Liposonix, Ultrashape and TruSculpt – which is non-invasive, with only minimal or moderate discomfort in the majority of cases.
A great advantage is that there is no downtime as with surgery, but there can be some redness, bruising and swelling for several days or up to a week or more, depending on the intensity of the treatment.
The fat cell cavitation process can be likened to a highly pitched singing voice shattering glass: the energy waves that pass through the skin shatter the wall of the fat cell. This causes its contents to leak out and kills the cell.
However, no damage is caused to the skin, blood vessels, nerves or connective tissues nearby the treatment areas.
After the breakdown (“lipolysis”) of fat cells, the waste is processed by the liver and excreted via normal body functions.
Usually these procedures require 3-4 treatments, spaced about 3-4 weeks apart, with optimum results seen three months after completing treatment.
Gold Coast cosmetic physician Dr Lindsey Hooke believes in the saying “try before you buy”, which she did with the TruSculpt ultrasonic fat-reduction technology. She and two of her team had one session each and all reported pleasing results.
“I had TruSculpt on the fatty areas of my back around the bra line. Within a month of the treatment – which I found painless – the fatty pockets are significantly reduced and my bras fit a lot better. I feel I can now wear close-fitting tops and dresses without bulges showing through.
“One of my staff had TruSculpt on her inner thighs and she’s delighted. She says she feels and looks a lot better in leggings and jeans.”
This technology literally involves freezing fat cells to death. Zeltiq CoolScupt is the result of years of research by Harvard University-associated scientists, who were intrigued by how babies given ice lollies to suck to relieve teething pain lost fat in their cheeks.
CoolSculpt can target and kill fat cells without harming surrounding tissue.
Fat cells are frozen, then crystallise and are gradually eliminated through the body’s natural processes between 6-12 weeks.
In any one session it targets a particular area such as “love handles”, “muffin tops” and stomachs. The device is positioned on the area to be treated; two “rollers” cooled to 7 degrees C for around 60 minutes. The fatty treatment areas are suctioned between them.
The technology has evolved so that larger areas of localised fat can be treated in one session than initially possible.
Again, optimum results are seen around three months after the final treatment.
A more traditional form of spot fat reduction, mesotherapy (also known as “lipodissolve”), involves a series of essentially pin-prick injections, containing substances such as enzymes, vitamins and phosphatidylcholine (a natural soy substance) into unwanted fat pockets.
These increase fat metabolism to break down fatty deposits in order to naturally absorb and remove them from the body.
Most patients will experience some degree of redness, swelling, itching/stinging, bruising or tenderness. This peaks at around 45 minutes after treatment and can take 24-48 hours to fully subside. Bruises can take a week or more to vanish.
As many as six sessions spaced around a month apart may be required and not everyone will be a “responder”. That will only be determined around 4-6 weeks after your first treatment.
Have you tried – or would you try – non-surgical fat reduction treatments?