Let’s face it, hitting the gym for that summer bod is HARD. The good news is that it’s not the only option. Find out the latest way to lose fat for good – without surgery.
There have been some serious advancements in the field of fat reduction, making non-surgical procedures a no-sweat way to target that muffin top or stubborn belly fat. You can now achieve noticeable results with no downtime, no surgery and minimal (if any) discomfort.
While non-surgical body contouring can deliver significant results, you should have realistic expectations of what it can achieve for you. It should also be noted that, like liposuction, it is not a solution for weight loss or a treatment for obesity.
This type of procedure typically does not require any anaesthesia or sedation and is usually performed in an in-office setting. There is normally no downtime, minimal patient discomfort and complications are rare. In conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regime, results shouldbe long lasting, if not permanent.
Most devices harness some form of energy – be it radiofrequency, ultrasound, freezing temperatures or hyperthermic laser – to penetrate the skin and break down underlying fat.
Here, we summarise the main technologies that underpin the most effective non-surgical body contouring devices available in Australia.
Cryolipolysis uses almost-freezing temperatures to kill fat cells without traumatising the surrounding tissues or harming the skin. The treatment is most suited to patients of average weight with pockets of fat which don’t respond to diet or exercise.
During treatment, a gel drape is placed onto the target area to protect the skin before the applicator head is placed onto the fat pocket, where it remains for approximately one hour.
The applicator acts in a similar way to a vacuum, sucking the treatment area into position and directing the cold temperature to the target fat cells under the skin.
Patients experience a gradual cooling sensation, similar to placing the area in iced water, but this subsides as the body gets used to the change. The initial suction may be uncomfortable depending on the laxity of the skin, but any discomfort usually subsides about 10 minutes into treatment.
Post treatment, the target area feels stiff and cold, appearing squarish as if still moulded to the inside of the applicator. This can look strange immediately after the treatment, but it subsides after about 30 minutes as the skin and underlying tissues soften back to room temperature.
Generally, at least two to three treatments are recommended. The results of cryolipolysis take a couple of months to appear, depending on the size of the area treated.
Non-invasive fat reduction using laser is another solution for targeting those hard-to-get-rid of pockets of fat. Using a specific wavelength, the laser targets and destroys fat cells below the dermis.
The controlled hyperthermic laser induces fat cell injury by raising adipose temperature to the ideal temperature to eliminate fat cells, without damage to surrounding tissue.
There is generally no downtime and minimal, if any, discomfort. Results can usually be seen around six weeks after treatment as the body naturally metabolises the destroyed fat. Depending on the device being used, a series of treatments is typically recommended for optimum results.
“Most devices harness some sort of energy to penetrate the skin and break down underlying fat”
Radiofrequency body contouring
This non-surgical treatment uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to reduce pockets of fat. The energy is emitted via an applicator through the skin without damaging the outer layers, only targeting the underlying fat and tissues.
Treatment typically takes about one hour and patients generally experience a warm to hot sensation around the target area during the procedure. The heat generated from the RF energy causes microscopic changes to tissues and collagen fibres, with further collagen remodelling occurring over the subsequent months following the procedure. The broken down fat cells are drained via the lymphatic system and then excreted as urine.
Localised fatty deposits such as on the abdomen, hips and thighs are most suited to RF body contouring treatments, with patients also noting a reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Temporary side effects may include temporary swelling, redness or bruising around the treated area, which normally disappear after a week or so.
Depending on the device being used, results can be observed after a single treatment, although a series of treatments is usually recommended for significant results. The patient will gradually notice changes such as circumferential reduction of the treated area, a reduction in cellulite and a more streamlined body shape.
Ultrasonic body contouring
Ultrasonic body contouring treatments use targeted ultrasound frequencies to break down fat, particularly on the abdomen, hips, thighs and ‘love handles’. The best candidates are close to their ideal weight but have stubborn areas of localised fatty deposits that do not respond to changes in diet and exercise.
The focused ultrasound waves are delivered in short bursts of energy, or pulses, to destroy fat cells while leaving surrounding tissue, nerves and blood vessels unaffected. The ultrasound waves create a cavitation effect in the target fat cells – a process where the fat cell membranes are damaged with each pulse of energy so that the contents of the fat cells (triglycerides) are dispersed and processed by the body. The fat cell contents are then flushed out by the body’s lymphatic system.
Generally, a series of treatments per area achieves noticeable, measurable results, although some patients note a circumferential reduction in the area after the first treatment. It can take around four weeks for final results to be visible as the body gradually eliminates the fatty debris.