Non Surgical Body Contouring, Which Method Works Best?
Non surgical liposuction alternatives are big business. Perhaps you have undergone one of these treatments or you are thinking about it. There is a lot of hype around so it is important to know what each treatment can achieve before you take the plunge and pay out a not inconsiderable sum of money for a treatment.
There are several methods of body contouring. Most work on the idea of spot removing subcutaneous fat cells (fat just under the skin as opposed to inside the body). One method, the Contours Body Wrap however works by stimulating the muscles to give a temporary tightening effect and using mineral clays applied to the body to supposedly leach out toxins from troublesome cellulite areas. (Cellulite according to some people has a dimpled appearance because of the toxins it contains). The treatment does indeed provide inch loss which can last around 30 days. In fact it guarantees inch loss or your money back. Beware however the company claim that you will lose six inches and this is a point that many treatment practitioners are guilty of; because measurements given are cumulative. In other words the practitioner will measure you over several different areas and add them all up! Treatment involves electrodes being applied to the skin for muscle stimulation and also the application of a clay body treatment. it can be a bit messy! Typically of 1 or 2 cm loss can be measured immediately after treatment for single measurement.
Of the spot fat reduction techniques there are three contenders. Laser Lipolysis, Ultrasonic Cavitation and Cryo Lipolysis or ‘Coolsculpting’ as it is sometimes called. (Coolsculpting is actually a trade mark of Zeltiq but it described very well what the procedure does).
Laser Lipolysis or Laser Lipo for short has been a popular salon treatment for a while now. The treatment works by using a particular frequency of laser light which penetrates about 6 cm down into the subcutaneous fatty layer and causes the fat cells to release their stored content thus deflating them and therefore causing inch loss.
How it actually works is a bit more involved. Each fat cell contains a mixture of fat, sugar and water, this mixture is called triglycerides. In each cell there are basic structures called mitochondria which are the cell’s powerhouse. When the body exercises and has run out of available fuel derived from food the mitochondria in the fat cells signal the cells to start releasing their fatty content for the body to use as fuel. Changes then occur in the cell membrane; it becomes more permeable and this allows the fat to be released. This fat is taken up by the lymphatic system and transported to where it is needed.The frequency of laser light used in Laser Lipo mimics this signal and it triggers the mitochondria to release the fat from the cells.This fat is then taken up by the lymphatic system and slowly used by the body as fuel.
The desired area is treated by applying paddles that are embedded with cold laser diodes, the light from which penetrates the skin down into the subcutaneous fatty layer causing the fat cells to release their contents. With Laser Lipo it is important to exercise after treatment to ensure the fat is burned off as the fat cells may re-absorb it. You will need eight to ten sessions to achieve good results. Session prices are typically as we speak around the £40 to £60 mark for a single treatment on a single area. You would have no more than two areas treated at a time. Treatments can be done twice a week. It can be used on any area of the body except breasts. Vigorous exercise is required post treatment for up to an hour to minimise the risk of the fat cells refilling. Small results, typically of 1 or 2 cm loss can be measured immediately after treatment.
Ultrasonic Cavitation is a completely different treatment from laser lipolysis. As the name suggests it uses ultrasound. Cavitation is the term given to the spontaneous formation, expansion and contraction of tiny micro bubbles within liquid. Cavitation is in fact a phenomenon that in most cases we look to avoid because it is destructive. The phenomenon is known in engineering where it can cause serious structural damage to moving parts such as ship propellers. However, in a medical setting where it is applied in a very controlled way it can be used to selectively destroy fatty tissue. What makes this treatment very different from Laser Lipolysis is the fact that is doesn’t just empty fat cells, it destroys them meaning those cells can not simply refill with fat. The body will have to make new fat cells and as long as your weight is stable this is something it doesn’t want to do. New fat cells are only produced by the body when old fat cells have reached a certain capacity. The area is treated by massaging it with an ultrasound transducer. The ultrasound waves penetrate the selected areas and cause the fat cells to be destroyed.
You will need around five to eight treatments to achieve good results. Treatment prices are around the £80 to £100 mark per treatment per area but you have to bear in mind that this may offer you a more permanent fat loss treatment than laser lipolysis. You would have no more than two areas treated at any one time. One treatment every week to ten days to allow the body to properly dispose of the fatty tissue as metabolic waste. It can be used on any area of the body except breasts. No post treatment exercise is required. Small results, typically of 1 or 2 cm loss can be measured immediately after treatment with further reductions for up to a week as the body breaks the cells down.
Cryo Lipolysis again this works differently from Laser Lipolysis or Ultrasound Cavitation but like Cavitation it results in the fat cells being destroyed rather than just emptied. Cryo Lipolysis uses extreme cold to selectively kill fat cells. The method was developed by Harvard University after scientists there were looking at old data from the 1960’s which referred to studies done into a condition called Popsicle Panniculitis. Popsicle Panniculitis developed in children who ate lots of ice-pops. They lost some of the fat in their cheeks and the link was made between cold and fat cell death. This phenomenon has been refined and honed into one of the most innovative treatments in recent years. The area is treated by sucking the fatty tissue into an applicator where it is chilled down to a point that causes the fat cells to be killed but doesn’t harm the skin or other tissues. The treatment can reduce fat cells by up to 25% in a single treatment session. However, the down side is that it can only be used on loose fat that it can suck into the applicator. So a flabby tummy is an ideal treatment zone while firmer fat on the thighs for example is not.
You will need a single treatment per area and you could have up to six areas treated at any one time. Prices are around £600 to £1000 per area. Only suitable for softer fatty tissue such as stomach, flanks (love handles) tops of arms and possibly inner thighs or inner knee areas. No post treatment exercise is required. results take about eight weeks to develop but are well worth the wait.
Radio Frequency. Although not specifically a fat reduction treatment it deserves a mention here because it can treat and improve the appearance of cellulite. It does act on the fatty layer and reduce it but not significantly enough to be used alone as an inch loss method. However, because it works so superficially it is ideal for treating cellulite. Cellulite is the firm but dimpled fatty areas typically found on the thighs and buttocks of women. Radio Frequency waves penetrate into this layer and cause micro trauma to the connective tissues (collagen) embedded within the fatty tissues causing new collagen production. This new collagen replaces the old damaged collagen structures giving a much more even look to the area. Radio Frequency will also act to a small degree on the fat cells causing them to release their contents thus helping soften and smooth the area. Radio frequency will also help tighten post weight loss loose skin. No post exercise treatment is required. Results, not inch loss but smoother outline as cellulite is reduced.
So which method is best for body contouring? Well it very much depends upon what you are trying to achieve. If you just want a temporary fix to look good for a special occasion a contour body wrap works well.
If you are a very active person who just wants a minor adjustment to your waist circumference, laser Lipolysis will work well.Your activity levels should keep the fat cells from refilling and the treatment is now quite inexpensive compared to the other methods.
For general reduction in size of an area, e.g. waist circumference, thigh circumference etc then ultrasonic cavitation is a good choice especially if you are not keen on exercise!.
For targeting fatty pockets such as that tummy bulge then cryo lipolysis works better than any other non surgical treatment available today giving significant fat reduction in one treatment. Though it’s not cheep, the cumulative costs of the other treatments can add up to as much as a cryo treatment and remember you only need one treatment to get the results you want.
Radio Frequency is great for targeting cellulite ridden areas and also post weight loss loose skin.