Advancements in body contouring technologies offer patients a variety of non-surgical options to remove body fat and create a more shapely form.
Over the past decade body-contouring surgery has become one of the most popular surgical procedures. While liposuction is an effective, safe and predictable method of removing large quantities of fat, some people are deterred by the thought of invasive surgery and its associated risks and down time. Fortunately, advancements in the field of body contouring offer non-surgical body contouring procedures that can achieve noticeable results with a significantly shorter recovery period.
As with liposuction surgery, for optimal results you should be in good health with skin that has sufficient elasticity. The best candidates are usually those with small to medium localised fat deposits that are resistant to diet and exercise, rather than those seeking large-volume fat removal.
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 procedure typically does not require any anaesthesia or sedation and is usually performed in an in-office setting. There is normally no down time, minimal patient discomfort and complications are rare. In conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise regime, results should be long lasting.
There is now a wide range of non-surgical body contouring options available. Developments in this area are continual, however here is a brief guide to some of the most popular non-surgical body contouring technologies available in Australia today.
Radiofrequency body contouring
This non-surgical treatment uses radiofrequency (RF) energy to penetrate the skin – without damaging the outer layers – to contour the body and reduce the appearance of cellulite and fat. It breaks down fatty cells and stimulates collagen production, which improves skin tone and elasticity.
The RF energy provides deep, controlled heating of the targeted fat, tightening tissue and increasing blood circulation at the same time as it targets fatty deposits. The broken down fat cells are drained via the lymphatic system and then excreted as urine.
The heat generated from the RF energy causes microscopic changes to tissues and collagen fibres, with further collagen remodelling over the subsequent months following the procedure.
Localised fatty deposits such as on the abdomen, hips and thighs can be effectively treated with RF body contouring treatments. This technology can also reduce the appearance of cellulite and tighten sagging skin.
There are a variety of body contouring systems that use RF energy and also a wide range of machines that combine RF energy with other light-based technologies to more specifically target and treat a range of aesthetic needs – from skin tightening to cellulite reduction. These modalities include laser, infrared light and the patented elos technology. This electro-optical synergy simultaneously combines bipolar RF and infrared light energy with vacuum and mechanical massage. The amalgamation of these energies stimulates the metabolism of energy stored in the body as fat and promotes lymphatic drainage, while also reducing the number of fat cells.
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. Each treatment lasts for around one hour and is virtually painless (you may feel a warm or sometimes hot sensation on the area being treated) and you can usually return to normal activities immediately after the treatment.
While complications are rare, side effects may include temporary swelling, redness or bruising around the treated area. These normally disappear in a few days or weeks.
The full effects may not be visible for several months as the improvements are cumulative. You will gradually notice changes such as circumferential reduction of the treated area, a marked reduction in cellulite and a more streamlined body shape.
Radiofrequency body contouring treatments are non-invasive, cause minimal discomfort and typically require no down time, offering an effective non-surgical procedure to improve your 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, as well as protecting the outside layers of the skin.
Each pulse breaks down the membranes of the targeted fat cells so that a layer of fatty tissue beneath the skin is eventually disrupted. The contents of the fat cells, called triglycerides, are then dispersed and processed through the body’s vascular and lymphatic systems and eliminated naturally.
Generally one treatment per area is sufficient to achieve noticeable, measurable results, although results may vary. It can take around four weeks for the final result to be visible as your body gradually eliminates the fatty debris.
The treatment is generally considered to be discomfort-free, and side effects are uncommon. Rare possible side effects may include some temporary redness or mild swelling. There is no recuperative period, although you should maintain a healthy diet and exercise plan to preserve and maximise the results.
Injection lipolysis is a minimally invasive procedure that involves a series of micro-injections to ‘melt away’ small amounts of unwanted fat and eliminate it from the body to create a more harmonious shape.
Injection lipolysis uses micro-injections of active ingredients called phosphatidycholine and deoxycholate directly into fat to break down the walls of the lipocytes, or fat cells. They are broken down into triglycerides, simple free fatty acids which are then carried to the liver where they are converted to glucose and burned off during exercise.
The formula is injected just under the skin and multiple injections are required to achieve an even result, using a device that allows several micro-injections to be performed simultaneously. While the procedure does not require any sedation, topical anaesthetic cream can be applied to minimise any stinging sensation.
The number of treatments depends on the size of the area to be treated and how well your body responds to the treatment, but generally two to four treatments at intervals of between six to eight weeks are required for optimal results.
The treated areas may be red initially and you may experience mild to moderate pain, which generally lasts for a few hours. You should be able to resume everyday activities the day after treatment.
While not a form of weight loss, injection lipolysis can achieve a noticeable circumferential reduction in the treated areas. As the unwanted fat is mobilised and used as energy, it is recommended you follow a simple exercise program and healthy diet to maximise the final results achieved.
While not strictly a non-surgical procedure, laser lyposis is a less invasive alternative to liposuction. It can reduce localised stubborn areas of fat such as the ‘love handles’, ‘saddle bags’ and double chin while reducing the risks commonly associated with traditional liposuction techniques.
During the procedure a fibre-optic probe is inserted under the skin which delivers low-level laser energy to selectively break up fat cells. The fat ‘melts’ and is subsequently absorbed and eliminated by the body naturally. The laser energy also helps to stimulate the production of collagen which promotes skin tightening.
As no fat is aspirated or suctioned out of the body, there is typically less damage to blood vessels and nerve endings compared with traditional liposuction techniques, however it is usually only recommended for smaller areas and repeat procedures may be necessary to achieve the desired results.
As with any type of cosmetic procedure, it is imperative you choose an experienced doctor and that you have realistic expectations of the results that can be achieved with non-surgical body contouring treatments.