We all have at least one area of our body that we can pinch an inch or more and motivates us to get to the gym or try another diet, often to no avail. Stubborn fat resistant to diet and exercise is the target of the latest trend in aesthetic medicine; non-surgical body contouring. Until the last few years, the only way to get rid of stubborn fat of the abdomen, flanks, thighs or arms was liposuction performed by a plastic surgeon under general anesthesia. This procedure, although effective, is costly both financially and due to down time to recover which is usually around 4 weeks. Patients who have had liposuction rarely elect to have the procedure again, especially now that there are some alternatives. Non-surgical body contouring can be achieved with minimal to no downtime in patients with a BMI of 15-30 at an affordable cost. The following will summarize the two most effective body contouring technologies offered by physicians, instead of liposuction.
Approved by the FDA in 2010, cryolipolysis (CoolSculpting®) was the first effective technology to hit the market to take the place of liposuction. It works by freezing fat cells to permanently remove them from the treated area. The time of treatment for one area is 1 hour. The average cost per treatment is $2250. The most commonly treated areas of the body are “muffin tops,” “love handles” and thighs. During the procedure, a gel pad and applicator are placed on the area to be treated and the area is sucked up into the applicator. The freezing process begins. During the procedure, you may feel intense cold, pinching or cramping until the area is numb. Side effects may include redness, minor bruising, tingling or numbness in the treated area. Physicians report that approximately 10% of patients may experience a delayed onset of pain due to nerve injury from the freezing process. This can be treated with a drug called gabapentin. Patients can expect a 20-30% reduction in fat in the treated area. Patients may see results as quickly as 3 weeks after treatment and most dramatic results after 2 months with final results 4-6 months after treatment.
SculpSure® is the world’s first FDA-cleared laser treatment for non-invasive lipolysis. Its state of the art system uses a flat, non-suction applicator design for consistent results, and treatment time is only 25 minutes. The technology was developed after it was discovered that the laser light wavelength of 1060 nm had a specific affinity for only adipose tissue (fat cells). This wavelength of light is not attracted to skin, blood vessels, nerves or any other body tissue, making it an extremely safe treatment with few, if any, side-effects. The laser heats the fat cells to 106 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fat cells are lysed and cleared from the body through the bodies lymphatic system. The fats cells are naturally eliminated, and results are seen as quickly as 6 weeks, but optimal results are seen at 12 weeks. During a 25-minute treatment of one body area, patients experience a cycle of deep heat followed by cooling every 30 seconds. Most patients return to work that day and their normal workout routine. Commonly, patients have mild tenderness to the treatment area for 1-2 weeks and prefer to not wear tight-fitting clothing during that time.
Clinical trials show an average of 24% reduction in body fat in the treated area with one treatment. Patient’s may treat multiple areas in one visit to the doctor and may retreat areas as soon as 6 weeks if they desire. The average cost per treatment is $1900. The most commonly treated areas are upper and lower abdomen and flanks (“love handles”). Other areas that have been treated include arms, thighs, and “bra fat.” Locally, at Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa in Peru, SculpSure® treatments are currently available. When asked why Dr. Norris chose to offer SculpSure®, she stated, “SculpSure® is clearly safe and effective as far as targeting only fat cells and no other body tissue, but the other thing I have seen it do well is skin tightening. The FDA approval for SculpSure® to be used for skin tightening as well as lipolysis is pending, but when this is officially announced, it will blow the competition away as far as results.”
SculpSure® and CoolSculpting® are for body contouring, not major weight loss. Ideal candidates are men and women who exercise, eat a healthy diet, and are within 20 pounds of their ideal weight. If you think you may be a candidate for body contouring and are interested in learning more, call Nicole Norris MD Medical Spa in Peru, Illinois at 815-780-8264.