Noninvasive options just might be what you’re looking for to treat those trouble zones.
It’s that voice inside your head again. A quick look in the mirror and it tells you it’s not pleased. You go to the gym multiple times a week for hours at a time, and you eat right, but your body is still not where you want it to be. It doesn’t matter that everyone else thinks you look good, the voice is telling you otherwise, and you’re listening to it. You know that plastic surgery could be an answer, but you’re not quite ready for an invasive procedure to rid yourself of the stubborn fat or facial wrinkles.
Luckily, there are many other options to explore before going under the knife. Called body sculpting, this area of aesthetic medicine consists of noninvasive techniques that can assist a good diet and exercise regimen to help your body lose the stubborn fat for good. Some of these techniques use radiofrequency heat and others use lasers or a combination of both, but the bottom line is that there are various technologies available that can help melt fat without pain, downtime or anesthesia. This area of aesthetic medicine is growing so much that not just plastic surgeons perform these procedures but other physicians are trained to perform them as well.
First, it’s important to understand what types of procedures are out there and explain that, while regular exercise is best to remove fat from the entire body, as people age, fat is more likely to stay on specific areas like around the hips, the chin, the arms, the abdomen, the inner thighs and saddle bag region. That’s where noninvasive procedures can come in.
One popular technology is an FDA-approved radiofrequency machine that can help small areas that are stubborn to weight loss like the lower abdomen, chin, arms, inner thighs and even what’s called “bra fat.” Feeling like a warm massage, this technology works by using a radiofrequency wand to heat the area and sculpt (break down the fat deposits to be excreted in the lymphatic system). It also can help tighten skin in those areas like on the neck.
“In our office, we most commonly use it to treat the neck, the jowls, which are fat deposits, as well as crow’s feet and the laxity around the eyes because it has skin-tightening properties, too,” says Dr. Pooja Malik, a board-certified physician from Mullica Hill Skincare with locations in Mullica Hill and Vineland.
These treatments usually last about an hour with four to six treatments necessary and will need to be done about a week apart. Costs vary depending on treatment areas. Their effects last about a year with a maintenance treatment required about once or twice a year.
At LipoLaser of South Jersey in Marlton, noninvasive laser technologies are used to treat people with trouble spots. The lasers are in the shape of paddles, which feel warm and penetrate the skin to the subcutaneous fat where the fat cells open and allow the fat inside to mobilize and enter the lymphatic system, which drains the waste from the body. A vibrating pad is also applied to help move the fat to the lymphatic system. Patients are put on a program, which includes not eating two hours before treatment, and patients must perform vigorous exercise afterward to best mobilize the fat.
“If you don’t rid yourself of the calories that have been released, then they will just redistribute elsewhere. The body wants to hold on to the fat, so you need to rid the fat [through exercise] so it’s not there for the body to store,” says Dr. Bryan Levey, medical director of LipoLaser of South Jersey.
He further explains that if someone eats carbs and exercises, the calories burned are from the carbs that were just eaten. If the person eats nothing and exercises, then the calories are burned from anywhere in the body. But if a patient has a laser treatment and then exercises, the calories are going to be from the areas exposed to the laser.
The treatments last about an hour and patients can have anywhere between three to 20 sessions, with the cost varying depending on the body part.
Levey says he has seen some impressive results with the treatment. Just last month, a woman came in for 20 treatments, and as a result, saw an eight-inch reduction in her waist as proved by her “before and after” photos and measurements.
The combination effect
Different treatments work for different people. Some practices will use a combination of treatments on one patient. For instance, at Davis Cosmetic Plastic Surgery in Cherry Hill, Dr. Steven Davis, a board-certified plastic surgeon, uses a combination of a radiofrequency-heated energy device and another with suction. How it works is the suction device will be placed on top of the skin and sucks the skin into it with rollers. The skin is manipulated by the rollers and at the same time the underlying tissues are being heated by the radiofrequency; this, in effect, models the body part by shrinking the skin. To be sure it doesn’t get too hot, the heat is controlled with a temperature gauge. After the treatment, each body part is wrapped as the skin cools.
Another option with this treatment is adding an abrasion-type head to the device to work on stretch marks, cellulite and wrinkled skin, crow’s feet or even acne scars. “It has a tiny abrasive surface so, while you’re delivering all this energy, it’s exfoliating the skin; that can also help in delivering heat in a deeper fashion,” says Davis.
With this combination device, Davis is able to do larger areas of the body and patients may not need as many sessions. Usually about four, 45-minute sessions spaced about two to four weeks apart are all that are needed, and costs vary.
A perfect candidate
The bottom line with all noninvasive options is, because they’re noninvasive and require no downtime, they can’t address larger and deeper areas like plastic surgery can. So the experts say to be realistic in expectations. Patients should ideally be fit, in their 30s to 50s, with only trouble zones. People with a lot of weight to lose should not consider noninvasive techniques. That requires good old exercise and diet first, according to the experts.
Also, before seeking out noninvasive therapies, do your homework. Research what you can about different options for your trouble zones. Many times when procedures don’t work for patients, it’s because that patient wasn’t an ideal candidate for that procedure in the first place, says Davis.
Still, if you figure out what would work best for your trouble zones and find a qualified practitioner, then you’ll be well on your way to a more positive self-image. “Feeling good about yourself and being healthy is everything,” says Levey.
Mullica Hill Skincare
201 Bridgeton Pike, Mullica Hill;
799 S. Delsea Drive, Vineland
LipoLaser of South Jersey
100 W. Old Marlton Pike
Davis Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
1916 Route 70 E.
Published (and copyrighted) in the Art of Living Well pull-out section of Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 12 (February, 2013).
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