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Non Surgical Fat Removal & Body Contouring Options

Fat removal and non-invasive body contouring have become some of the most popular cosmetic procedures in Dr. Michele Green’s NYC cosmetic dermatology practice. With cutting edge lasers and treatments, Dr. Green is at the forefront of the best non-surgical fat removal treatments for her private patients in her Manhattan office.

When it has to do with weight loss, most of the hard work is accomplished by healthy eating and a good exercise program. However, for many men and women, even though they do all the right things, areas of stubborn fat remain and be very difficult to get rid of. Historically, the only way to remove this excess fat was through surgical treatments such as tummy tucks or liposuction.

The good news is that invasive plastic surgery is no longer the only option. Since the advent of cosmetic surgery, there have been ground breaking technological advances in the field of fat reduction, offering a range of non-surgical fat reduction treatments, which are relatively fast acting and most importantly, extremely effective with no recovery time.

A phrase that has become more popular over the last few years is “Fat Freezing” and the brand name that has become very well known for this process is CoolSculpting®. This treatment is based on the science of cryolipolysis, which cools down and freezes the fat cells in the target areas of the body which are being treated. Through the body’s own metabolism, the fat deposits gets slowly excreted from the body. The results from CoolSculpting® are typically seen in three to four months after the treatments have been performed.

Non Invasive Fat Removal Treatments

Fat removal treatments have become one of the fastest growing cosmetic sectors in American society, similar to other cosmetic procedures, such as laser hair removal and Botox injections. In the expanding field of cosmetic dermatology, there are many new non-invasive treatments for fat removal. Of the myriad of non-surgical procedures for fat removal, some are minimally invasive, while others may involve a bit more downtime. The newest technologies range from using heating or cooling, to ultrasound, radiofrequency, or injectables.

How to Find the Right Treatment for You

When it comes to fat removal, it is best consult with an expert in fat removal, specifically a board certified dermatologist like Dr. Michele Green.  She will be able to discuss your concerns and recommend the best treatment options. It is important to note that fat removal often entails combining more than one procedure or a combination of technologies to achieve the desired results. Fat removal is a broad area which includes skin tightening, cellulite treatments, in addition to fat reduction.  Fat removal and cellulite treatments may require a series of treatments to see the final results. Non-surgical fat removal, for the face and body, uses a range of heating and cooling lasers, injectables, mechanical cellulite reduction, muscle tightening, ultrasound, and radiofrequency heat to achieve these amazing results in fat reduction.

Coolsculpting

CoolSculpting is a non invasive body contouring treatment which can be used on a number of different areas of the body, where fat bulges accumulate. It is ideal for tackling areas of excess fat which are difficult to reduce through traditional diet and exercise. Coolsculpting can be used to treat the abdomen, flanks, buttocks, inner and outer thighs, bra fat, neck and knees. Other ideal areas for this procedure include the arms, and even the hips and love handles. Each treatment area takes between 30 minutes and one hour, depending on the specific area of the body being treated. With each session of Coolsculpting, 25% of fat is reduced in a given area. Side effects of Coolsculpting can include swelling, bruising, soreness, and numbness which resolve over a few weeks.

An extremely popular area of stubborn fat which is difficult to reduce on its own, is the submental area, the area under the chin. Many patients are genetically predisposed to getting a “double chin”, and this area gets worse as we age and gain weight. The good news is that there are fantastic treatments which can specifically target this submental area to achieve fat reduction under the chin. This method of fat removal under the chin is done with a small applicator called the CoolMini. The Coolmini® is based on the CoolSculpting treatment itself, but utilizes  a unique smaller applicator to target the fat cells under the chin. This “fat-freezing” method for treating the “double chin” and its fat reduction has impressive results. The full cosmetic results from Coolsculpting  are seen within three to four months after the treatment has been completed. Some patients even notice improvement after the first month of this amazing treatment.

Other non surgical fat removal treatments beyond CoolSculpting

Kybella

A complementary method of removing fat under the chin is called Kybella. Kybella® is an FDA approved injectable composed of deoxycholic acid which is injected directly into the fat under the chin, to dissolve the fat cells. Deoxycholic acid is a substance that the body manufactures naturally in the abdomen, which dissolves lipids and helps with fat removal. The best option for treating your “double chin”, is determined by a few factors such as the amount of submental fat, the fat under your chin, and your skin laxity.  For patents with a large degree of submental fat, Dr. Green suggests first having Coolsculpting to “debulk” the area, followed by Kybella injections to dissolve the remaining fat cells.  The number of treatments of Kybella injections varies with each patient, but typically 3 to 4 treatments are needed for fat removal under the neck.

IMAGE06 35 44 year old man treated with kybella MGwatermark

There is only a topical anesthesia required for Kybella injections. Potential side effects of Kybella injections are swelling, redness, and numbness at the site of injection. The application of cold ice packs to the treated area immediately after injection, helps to minimize these side effects. Kybella injections can also potentially damage the mandibular nerve if incorrectly injected. That’s why it is so important to consult an experienced board certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon for your cosmetic injections.

In addition to Coolsculpting, some doctors may recommend SculpSure, which is a laser that melts fat cells using heat. SculpSure® tends to take more treatments per area than Coolsculpting, to get the same results; making Sculpture a more expensive alternative.

SculpSure

SculpSure is an FDA hyperthermic laser for fat removal. With WarmSculpting, SculpSure removes fat using heat to break up the fat cells. The laser heat energy is delivered to the targeted treatment areas and is approved to treat the “double chin”, abdomen, inner and outer thighs, and flanks. SculpSure, like other non-invasive fat removal treatments, is meant to eliminate stubborn areas of fat in individuals with a body mass index of 30 or less. These treatments are not intended for weight loss since they do not debulk fat and sculpt the body. One of the benefits of SculpSure as a a non-surgical procedure, is that the average treatment takes 25 minutes with no downtime. After your procedure you can resume your normal activities. SculpSure has been showed to reduce fat by 24% in a given area within 6 to 12 weeks.  Multiple treatment sessions may be necessary for the desired fat reduction.

Find out the differences between CoolSculpting and Sculpsure here.

InstaLipo

Instalipo is another noninvasive method of fat reduction which has become popular.  This method involves red light therapy which delivers photonic energy to the targeted areas of fat. Through red light, the fat cells are drained of their contents (mostly triglycerides and fatty acids) and shrinks in size. The result is that the size of your fat cells are reduced leading to a slimmer appearance and fat reduction with no down time.

FaceTite and AccuTite

These two non-surgical procedures addresses skin laxity using radiofrequency heat. This technology offers similar  outcomes as surgical fat removal procedures such as liposuction without the downtime. AccuTite has been FDA approved to treat the abdomen, upper arms. Flanks, inner thighs, outer thighs, knees and bra fat while FaceTite is approved to treat the forehead, cheeks, jowls, and neck. The treatment entails using a handheld radiofrequency device that delivers heat to the fat cells breaking down the fat. Radiofrequency and heat is used to sculpt the treated areas yielding fat removal results. In addition, the treatment aids in collagen and elastin production, restoring the skin to its youthfulness. Both procedures can be done on the same day, and it takes one hour to treat each area. The treatment can be done in one hour and typically the results of one treatment may last a few years, depending on your condition.

Vanquish  

The Vanquish laser treatment uses radiofrequency energy to heat the fat in the targeted areas. Vanquish® can be used on multiple areas of the body including the abdomen, love handles, buttocks, arms, and legs.

This non surgical fat reduction technology delivers deep tissue heating causing lipolysis, (liquifies the fat) without making physical contact with the skin. After the treatment, your body naturally eliminates the dead fat cells. You can resume normal activities immediately after treatment without any side effects.  Special care must be taken not to use excessive heat, to avoid thermal burns as a potential side effect.  One of the key considerations in the effectiveness of this procedure is the hydration of the patient before the procedure. If the patient has not hydrated properly for two days before, the procedure may not be effective.

Liposonix

Liposonix is a non-invasive procedure, FDA approved for fat reduction, which uses high intensity ultrasound energy laser to reduce fat cells. The LipoSonix treatment works well for both men and women looking for modest fat reduction in the arms, thighs, and waistline. Ideal candidates are individuals in good health having no underlying risk factors with stubborn areas of fat, with an inch of fat that needs treatment in the desired treated area.

You may experience some pain or discomfort during treatment such as a tingling or prickly sensation with bouts of heat and cold. The treated area may be slightly bruised with notable redness and swelling. Following the treatment, results can be seen in as little as 2-3 months; individual results can vary depending on the treated area. Many individuals have reported an inch or more reduction around the waistline. Although Liposonix® is a non-surgical procedure, there is some downtime as side effects have included pain and bruising.

Zerona  

Zerona is a non invasive fat reduction laser treatment which uses a laser that emits cold laser energy into the body’s tissues to destroy the fat cells. This treatment works best for the abdomen, arms, buttocks and thighs. The cool laser energy forces the fat deposits to break down, which is then absorbed by the body and excreted through the body’s natural processes.

This procedure is painless as there is no contact with your skin and the laser. Each treatment takes approximately 40 minutes per area and results can be seen in a few weeks.  Multiple treatments are needed to have the full cosmetic results.

Emsculpt

Emsculpt uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy to trigger supramaximal contractions. Emsculpt was FDA approved to improve abdominal and buttock tone, and strengthen and firm these muscles. New indications for the arms were approved to tone and strengthen them as well.  One of the main problems with Emsculpt is that the effects last approximately six months and maintenance sessions are needed to continue wit these desired results. A good candidate is someone who is in good shape and physically fit and looking to tone and strengthen these muscles. Emsculpt has been reported to build muscle and have fat reduction at the same time. It is believed that Emsculpt works by stimulating these muscle contractions, and producing better muscle tone and enhancing fat metabolism.  Side effects include only some temporary muscle discomfort.

Thermage

Thermage is the gold standard for skin tightening, especially for areas of the face, jowls, and neck.  Thermage® works through radiofrequency heat, generating new collagen and elastin production and tightening the skin. Thermage is also FDA approved to tighten the skin on the body, such as the arms, legs, buttocks, and abdomen. The new Thermage FLX has improved skin tightening with even faster and better results. Thermage is also used in combination with these other fat removal technologies to tighten the skin. Many patients have a combination of Coolsculpting and Thermage for their jowls to first tighten the skin and then remove the fat.  Similarly, the abdomen is another popular area to treat the area with both technologies- skin tightening with Thermage and fat reduction with Coolsculpting.

Surgical Fat Removal / Permanent Fat Reduction

Liposuction

Liposuction is a surgical procedure for fat removal best performed by a board certified plastic surgeon. Liposuction has evolved since it gained popularity in the 1980’s with various newer techniques now being utilized. The procedure can be performed under both local or general anesthesia, depending on the area being treated. The choice between general anesthesia or local anesthesia depends on the patient, the area being treated, and the plastic surgeon. Liposuction entails first inserting a small cannula beneath the skin.  Once the small tube is in place, suction is applied which removes the fat via a cannula and into a receptacle. There are are many regulatory guidelines which each plastic surgeon must follow regarding liposuction fat removal.  For example, the amount of fat removed is measured and documented in each patient’s medical chart. As the suction removes the excess fat through the tube, the surgeon is able to manipulate the cannula and sculpt the treated area during the procedure.

The manner in which liposuction is done today has certainly evolved since its inception and there are several newer liposuction techniques.

  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction:  This technique uses ultrasound technology by way of a cannula to detect fat. The cannula emits ultrasonic waves which also helps to break apart the fat,  making the fat easier to suction.
  • Tumescent liposuction:  This technique provides local anesthesia to large volumes of subcutaneous fat and allows liposuction. Tumescent liposuction is more popular and safer than traditional liposuction, with a faster recovery time. Tumescent liposuction involves using multiple small incisions and bimodal compression to promote drainage, making it less likely to get infected.  Results begin after 10 days and continue to improve to up one year.
  • Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) devices:  The technology utilizes a  cannula which also breaks up fat using heat to dissolve the fat cells. This technique effectively removes fat in a shorter period of time, making recovery less tedious. Smart lipo is one of the more frequently used PAL devices.

Side Effects of fat removal 

Depending on which technology is used, there area a wide variety of side effects.  Coolsculpting can cause swelling, numbness, bruising, and rare incidents of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia.  SculpSure can cause pain or nodule formation.  Liposonix can cause pain and bruising. Vanquish can cause a burn from the heat. These side effects are all rare with these non-invasive fat removal devices.  Liposuction, however, since it is an invasive surgical procedure, has more potential side effects.  These side effects include the effects of general anesthesia, bruising, deep vein thrombosis, infection, contour irregularities, and damage of deeper structures such as blood vessels and internal organs.

If you have stubborn fat that you want to lose, using body contouring and non-surgical fat reduction techniques could be the best option for you. Contact Dr. Michele Green and she can discuss the latest technologies for fat removal and give you the best cosmetic results. To book an appointment, please contact our NYC based office or call 212 535 3088

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