I work out – a lot. When I had my first child at the age of 31, it was easy to loose the baby weight. In fact, by the time we had her traditional 100 day celebration I was back into my size 4 jeans. Wight loss did not come as easily with child number two. The good thing that came out of this struggle is that it motivated me to focus on good nutrition and exercise. My current exercise regimen combines several different approaches to total body wellness. I do a little bit of high intensity interval training, I do a run/walk routine, and I do bikram yoga. With all this exercise, my body had definitely transformed. After child number one, I would describe myself as skinny fat – thin with a high body fat composition. After child number two I would describe myself as slim fit – my weight has gone up, but my body fat has gone down and my muscle mass has definitely increased. All in all, I am still a size four but my clothes fit very differently. However, like most women, there are parts of my body that have not changed for the better in spite of lots of exercise. For me, these areas are my tummy and my inner thighs. This is why I decided to try out some non-invasive forms of fat removal.
Over the past few years we’ve seen a number of new techniques become available for non-evasive fat reduction. There has been a ton of hype surrounding these procedures that promise amazing results with minimal downtown. As a physician, I wanted scientific proof. Read below to find out what I learned and to see what my experience was.
Fat reduction versus weight loss
I think it is important to start out with a basic understanding of the difference between fat reduction and weight loss. The number of fat cells in your body becomes fixed sometime in your teenage years (on average). When you lose or gain weight the number of cells does not change but the size of the cells does.
Fat reduction has an impact on the number of fat cells that are in your body. When reduced they are naturally processed and eliminated (so they won’t end up to another area of your body).
Fat reduction technology is best suited for somebody that is close to their ideal weight with areas of fat that diet and exercise have not helped.
What does non-invasive mean?
The term non-invasive simply means that the body is not invaded or cut open during a medical procedure. Liposuction is a well-known form of fat removal – but this procedure is invasive. It requires the patient to be asleep under anesthesia and involves incisions into the skin which result in long recovery times. However, non-invasive doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be no recovery time or that the procedure will be painless. However, the paid and recovery will be much less than if the procedure is invasive.
Non-invasive options for fat reduction
Coolsculpting – this method freezes away unwanted fat. You can target your abdomen, sides, double chin, inner thighs, outer thighs and upper arms with this procedure. I’ve personally tried Coolsculpting on my inner thighs (be sure to check out my video on Facebook). The procedure itself was uncomfortable, but not painful. In the days after the area treated was tender and felt funny to the touch and very numb. I also felt extremely sore for about 7 days. However, I was able to work and I was able to resume my workouts within 24 hours. Coolsculpting reps say that you can expect a 25% reduction in body fat in a treated area. This equates to about 40 ml of fat. That’s not a lot, actually. Coolsculpting often require a second treatment and results are usually visible between 1 and 3 months following treatment. I received my treatment at the end of September. Prior to the procedure my thighs measured 22 inches. I am not 3 months out yet, but I did measure my thighs 4 week out and was down about a quarter inch.
Vanquish – this method of fat removal uses radiofrequency energy to heat and kill fat cells. Vanquish can be used to target the abdomen and thighs and will have very little downtime. You typically need four to six treatments for noticeable results. I tried vanquish on my abdomen last December. I have a diastasis recti which is a gap in my abdominal muscles which happened after pregnancy. This means that I have a consistent pooch, no matter how many sit ups I do. The downside of vanquish is the number of treatments required. It’s very time consuming. You also have to be very well hydrated (I am talking about a gallon water before each treatment). During the procedure the aperture is very close to the skin and gets very hot. They blow a fan to keep you comfortable. The treatment takes about 1.5 hours. When I started by abs measured 29 inches. They now measure 26.5-27 (depending on bloat). So I have to say that this definitely worked!
Kybella – this method targets moderate to severe fat below the chin (commonly referred to as a “double chin” via injection. Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body which helps the body to absorb fat cells. Dermatologists sometimes use kybella off label to target little areas of fat like bra fat or back fat with good results. There is about 2-4 weeks of swelling with each treatment. This is effective for small areas of fat, but will not cause substantial fat loss.
Sculpsure – this method uses controlled, light-based technology to contour the body and can be used on the abdomen, sides, back, inner and outer thighs. This method uses a flat, non-suction applicator to heat the fat to a temperature of 107.6 to 116.6, which will destroy fat cells while keeping the skin cool. I haven’t tried this one yet. However, I was at a recent conference that did show data suggesting fat loss with this device. The good thing about this treatment is that they have customizable applicators that really allow for more sculpted fat loss.
Trusculpt – this treatment also utilizes heat to kill fat cells and can be used on the stomach, thighs and under the chin. I tried this on myself and on patients. It doesn’t work so don’t waste your time!
Velashape- this method targets the neck, abdomen, arms, side area, buttock and thighs and uses a combination of technologies to reduce fat cells. You typically need 3 treatment sessions (but a protocol for single treatment is available). You’ll find this treatment in spas primarily, which raises my suspicions about efficacy.
If you are considering fat reduction, do your research. Make sure you are using a licensed professional for the treatment and follow their guidance for best results. Stay tuned for my final coolsculpting report in a couple of months.