Weight loss seems to be the subject of every other news article, web ad, TV commercial and conversation around the water cooler (especially as swimsuit weather gets closer). From exercise plans to diet pills, special diets to bariatric surgery and liposuction – we are inundated by the pros and cons of shedding pounds and inches, in ways that range from simple common sense to dangerously extreme.
While healthy weight loss should always incorporate healthy dietary choices, portion control, and regular exercise, now non-surgical procedures are available which can help zap the fat, especially in some trouble spots such as the tummy or thighs that can defy even the most stringent diet and exercise regimen. These procedures, which are used to accomplish what is commonly known as body sculpting, include cryolipolysis, low level laser, and high intensity ultrasound. It should be noted that although these methods are not intended for extreme levels of weight loss for people who are overweight or obese, they have proved successful for people who are not overweight, by decreasing fat cells in targeted areas, which have failed to respond to diet and exercise.
Cryolipolysis (Freezes away the fat)
Commonly known as CoolSculpting, cryolipolysis employs a cooling suction device to target the area of fat. The cold temperature, which is actually above the freezing point, destroys fat cells beneath the skin. The treatment is administered while the patient sits or lies comfortably, no anesthesia is required, and it generally takes about 40 minutes, depending on the size of the area that is being treated. The application of cold causes a numbing sensation and some people experience redness, mild pain and bruising for a few days after the procedure. The results take from two to four months to appear as the damaged fat cells slowly dissolve. Most areas such as the tummy, thighs, or hips, require two to three treatments for the best results, which on average is a 20% reduction of fat. CoolSculpting was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2010.
Low Level Laser (Melt away the fat)
Low level laser devices, such as Zerona, work by disrupting fat cell membrane so that the fatty material stored in them collapses or melts and is absorbed into the body. The patient simply relaxes during the procedure, and there is no need for anesthesia, gels, creams or numbing agents. A treatment package includes six treatments performed over two weeks in a doctor’s office. Each treatment takes roughly 40 minutes and ideally there should be no more than 72 hours between treatments. Erchnoia, Zerona’s manufacturer, claims the process has no side effects, allergic reactions or bruising. In a clinical trial for FDA approval, the procedure removed from 1 to 1.5 inches from each area treated, including the waist, hips and thighs. Zerona also received approval by the FDA in 2010.
High-Intensity Ultrasound (Destroys the fat)
A third FDA approved fat zapping technique called Liposonix uses high-intensity focused ultrasound energy to destroy the targeted fat, by thermal ablation, without harming the surrounding skin. The high-intensity ultrasound procedure is used to reduce stubborn fat bulges in the tummy, thighs or hips. There is no preparation required and no anesthesia necessary. The patient lies comfortably while the ultrasound device targets the area to be treated. The procedure takes about 50 minutes to perform and may cause minor pain, swelling and bruising. The results of about a one-inch reduction per session are not immediately visible, usually becoming apparent approximately two to three months after the procedure. Liposonix received approval by the FDA in 2011 for the targeted reduction of fat.