The skinny on fat reduction

The world of non-surgical body shaping is continually advancing. Here’s the skinny on some of the latest technology science has brought to the table.

Over the past couple of decades body contouring surgery has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures. But not everyone needs or is willing to undergo surgery, anaesthesia and the like to remove excess fat and  reshape the body.

Some serious advancements in the field of fat reduction now offer non-surgical procedures that can achieve noticeable results with no downtime, no surgery and minimal (if any) discomfort.

Most of these devices harness some form of energy – be it radiofrequency, ultrasound, freezing temperatures or hyperthermic laser – to break down underlying fat while leaving surrounding tissues unaffected.

This type of procedure doesn’t require any anaesthesia and is performed in the clinic. There is normally zero downtime, only some mild discomfort and results are permanent if you maintain your weight.

What’s the catch, you may be thinking? Well, that’s difficult to answer. The only real ‘negative’ is that it’s suited to people with small to localised fat deposits (think muffin top or some extra belly fat), not for larger scale fat reduction.

All of these body contouring devices may have temporary side effects, such as swelling, redness or bruising around the treated area, which normally disappear after a week or so. Changes are gradual, as the body naturally metabolises the destroyed fat cells over the next several weeks.

Although non-surgical body contouring devices offer an effective means for achieving a more streamlined body shape – commonly targeting treatment areas such as the abdomen and thighs – it’s worth remembering that no non-surgical device can achieve the level of fat removal possible with liposuction.

Here we look at the top-three trending fat-busting procedures in the Australian market.

Radiofrequency

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.

The latest technology in this area is the enCurve by Lutronic, officially launched in Australia in September 2016. It uses a special frequency (27.12MHz) to selectively target and heat fat cells to an optimal temperature, leading to the fat cells’ death. The body’s natural removal process then takes over, permanently removing the damaged cells. This results in a sleeker body contour in the treatment area.

This is touted to be a more gentle and comfortable way to reduce fat cells, literally melting away fat rather than blasting it.

The tummy, hips and thighs are most suited to RF body contouring treatments, and most people report only a slight warming sensation on their skin during treatment.

Like other non-surgical body contouring devices, results can be observed after a single treatment, although a series of treatments is usually recommended for significant results.

Laser

Non-invasive fat reduction using hyperthernic laser is also new to the market. Launched in Australia in November 2015 by Cynosure, the innovative treatment, called SculpSure, is the first FDA-cleared laser treatment for non-invasive fat reduction of the flanks (love handles) and abdomen.

It uses a 1060nm laser to target and destroy fat cells below the dermis. Multiple areas can be treated at once in just 25 minutes, and all skin types are suitable. The controlled hyperthermic laser induces fat cell injury by raising adipose temperature to a range of 42 to 47˚ C – the ideal temperature to eliminate fat cells, without damage to surrounding tissue.

There is no downtime and minimal, if any, discomfort. Results can be seen around six weeks after treatment as the body naturally metabolises the destroyed fat. A series of treatments is typically recommended for optimum results.

Cryolipolysis

Cryolipolysis uses freezing temperatures to kill fat cells without traumatising the surrounding tissues or harming the skin. One of the main contenders  using this fat-freezing technology is CoolTech.

During treatment, the area to be treated is suctioned into position by the device’s applicator head and then cold temperatures are directed to the fat cells under the skin, leaving the surrounding tissues intact.

The “frozen fat” dies and is absorbed by your body over time.

A gradual cooling sensation is felt, 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.