Getting rid of those stubborn fatty areas - saddlebags, poop, love handles - is a lifelong struggle for many people. So it's easy to understand the latest weight loss craze, "Body Shaping" or "Body Sculpting," because these therapies promise results for areas you can't lose with diet or exercise. By flattening or killing fat cells, which the body then metabolizes and naturally eliminates, these devices are said to produce immediate and gradual results within 2-6 months.
But this advanced technology is not a substitute for weight loss - and it's not for everyone. "These are not treatments for people who need to lose 50 pounds," - says Dan Olesnicky, MD Executive Wellness. "We recommend these finishing technologies for those who maintain a healthy lifestyle and are active." Brittany Zakrzewski, LVN Nurse Practitioner at the practice of Dr. Suzanne Quardt agrees. "These treatments are best for people who are healthy but have stubborn areas that they just can't lose."
Unlike Laser Lipo (or Smart Lipo), which pierces the skin and can leave bruising, these non-invasive therapies are applied externally and appear to have few side effects and zero recovery time. However, the results and risks depend on the doctor performing the treatment, so if you're looking for a treatment, make sure it comes from a qualified source.
Set those fat cells on fire. Exilis is a radiofrequency technology that heats the skin and the deep layers of fat beneath it. It is applied with a hand-held wand, allowing the technology to act "like a sculptor" by strategically covering all areas of concern. It is effective on most problem areas and has the added benefit of firming the skin, exposing collagen, making the skin tighter. Multiple treatments are required and the improvement will last for up to 6 months. It is an electrical probe, so it can burn the skin if not applied correctly.
Freeze Cell. Devices like CoolSculpting® chill fat cells to 4 degrees Celsius, causing them to die naturally without affecting nerves or other tissues. Typically only one 60-minute treatment is necessary for each area and is reported to kill 20-30% of the targeted fat cells. CoolSculpting® is only FDA approved for use on the abdomen and love handles. Zakrzewski notes that reported "blocky" results are avoided by ending each treatment with a 2-minute massage to smooth the area.
Laser your legs (and other areas). Cold laser therapies, such as Zerona®, can be used on most problem areas. After about 20 minutes of therapy, fat cells under the target area develop transient pores that allow the cell contents to be released and flattened. Patients begin to see results after two weeks of treatment. "Zerona is a good complement to a weight loss program," says Olesnicky. "It both synergistically releases fat cells and continues to burn fat in these problem areas as you lose weight."
Experts remind us that none of these technologies get rid of fat around the organs, which is the most dangerous fat. "Investing in these therapies for cosmetic purposes is all well and good," concludes Olesnicky, "but first invest your time and effort in establishing a healthier lifestyle."