Esther Loh reviews five of the latest non-invasive body contouring treatments available to learn how they work towards giving you the body you desire.
The aesthetics industry has seen considerable growth in minimally or non-invasive treatments over the past decade. While surgical options are still the gold standard in most cases, this trend towards providing patients with good aesthetic outcomes in less time, with less pain, and with less recovery time isn’t a temporary one. Minimally or non-invasive treatments take into account realities: the fear that many have of going under the knife, for example, and who wants to eat into their annual leave if they can avoid it?
For those without the time to get their bodies buff at the gym, or those who have tried to but failed to remove unwanted spot fat, there are now several non-invasive machine-based treatments that can help. It should be pointed out here that these are not treatments that are designed to help the obese to become slim. Rather, they can assist in improving a person’s silhouette or contour by smoothing out bulges and unwanted bumps.
Here, we bring you four non-invasive body contouring treatments that are sought after by many to combat body-bulge issues.
CoolSculpting™– killing Fat with Cold
CoolSculpting™ from Zeltiq™ (a medical device company from the United States) uses cryolipolysis – cold temperatures – to kill off stubborn fat in targeted areas. Research shows that fat cells are naturally more vulnerable to the effects of cold, which causes them to be safely eliminated from the body.
According to aesthetics practitioner, Dr. S. J. Jong, this treatment is suitable for both men (it can also be used to treat gynaecomastia, for example) and women aged 18 and above who want to get rid of visible bulges and lumps of fat that cannot be reduced through diet and exercise. “It’s the most suitable treatment for those who want to have a good body contour,” she says.
Dr. Jong adds, “This non-invasive treatment is a good option as it only targets fat cells without harming surrounding tissue. CoolSculpting™ is approved in Europe and Canada for fat reduction treatments and in the US for cooling and anaesthesising prior to other treatments. CoolSculpting™ is a safe and comfortable procedure that does not involve needles, anaesthetic and downtime.”
Dr. Jong explains the process: “A vacuum applicator will be placed on the targeted area. The suction caused will pull the fat into the applicator and patients will feel a cooling sensation until the entire area is numb. Once the fat cells are frozen, the body will eliminate them naturally, through the lymph nodes and liver. After the treatment, a massage is done around the treatment area.” Dr. Jong also advises patients to drink more water after the treatment to assist in the elimination process.
Some patients may experience bruises at the treatment area caused by the vacuum applicator if force and suction are exerted to hold the treatment area tightly. “Patients need not worry as the bruises will go away in a day or two. There will be some redness but it’s temporary. Some patients experience a minimal tingling feeling at the treatment area once in a while that could last up to a week but that’s very normal,” assures Dr. Jong.
A one-hour session of CoolSculpting™ can see a reduction of 20 percent in fat content in the treated area. “The treatment does not introduce any foreign substance into the body to aid in the elimination process. It lets the body take its natural course. As such, the safety profile of this treatment is good,” shares Dr. Jong.
Results will begin to show after three weeks and the final reduction in fat will be seen after two months. “Of course, patients need to control their diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle to ensure the results are maintained,” Dr. Jong advises.
A patient says: “I felt minor discomfort while the vacuum applicator held the area being treated. The feeling gradually faded as the area became cold and numb. Thirty minutes into the treatment there was a relaxing vibrating and massaging sensation that lasted about five minutes. After an hour, I experienced some redness and numbness but this went away within an hour or two. There was a tingling feeling that lasted for close to a week. At one month after the treatment, the treated area got firmer but I needed another month to see the real results.”
Effects last for: Fat at treated area is permanently reduced provided the patient maintains a good diet and exercise regimen.
Cost of treatment: RM3000 – RM3500 per treatment area.
Med Contour – Ultrasound and Massage
Combining both ultrasound and massage therapy, the Med Contour treats fatty tissue underneath the skin by busting fat deposits. It reduces the appearance of cellulite and increases local blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. In the United States it is also known as Vaser Shape MC1.
Manufactured in Italy, Med Contour combines two low-frequency ultrasound heads, directing its energy exclusively to the treatment areas. “It produces a bundled and controlled low-frequency ultrasound beam to a designated depth to target subcutaneous fatty tissue,” explains plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Farrah-Hani Imran.
She says the machine works well to help medium-weight to overweight women and men who want effective fat reduction of subcutaneous fatty tissue in problematic areas – without needles and sutures.
With this method, the special hand piece emits ultrasound waves to generate localised heat that penetrates from one to five centimetres beneath the skin. The heat produced creates a micromassage effect on the targeted fat cells.
The micromassage then produces steam bubbles inside the tissues that will increase in size and produce microbubbles, inducing the cavitation process. The fat cells will collapse due to the pressure created, leaving neighbouring structures such as skin, blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues intact. The fat cells will then liquefy and be eliminated from the body through zonal lymphatic massage.
This massage helps the body metabolise unwanted fluid and fat from problematic areas. It also encourages blood circulation while warming the connective tissue and redistributing fat to reveal a smoother body shape.
“The machine also comes with a lymphatic drainage hand piece which will assist with opening up the lymph nodes for drainage of fatty substances through the lymphatic system. Through a series of cavitation and drainage sessions, Med Contour can be used to treat various areas – the abdomen, back, arms, love handles, hips, buttocks and thighs. There is no downtime and no side effects have been reported so far apart from a little redness on the treatment area that will gradually subside,” Dr. Farrah-Hani elaborates.
According to one study, an average reduction around the abdomen of more than three centimetres was measured after only one treatment. Patients can see results even after the first treatment but a more visible, longer-lasting difference can be seen after a regimen of at least four sessions.
Patients are advised to drink plenty of water before and after the treatment to make sure they are well hydrated – to aid the lymphatic system in its drainage functions more effectively.
“These treatment modalities are not short-cuts to weight loss. In order to gain maximum benefit, it is best to implement a healthy nutritional diet with exercise to complement a healthy lifestyle,” Dr. Farrah-Hani says.
Effects last for: Six months to a year.
Cost of treatment: RM600 – RM1000 depending on areas treated.
AntiLax™– Tightening with Infrared and Bipolar Radiofrequency
AntiLax™ is said to firm up the tummy, thigh and back. It helps to eliminate flabby skin and cellulite for a smoother and more youthful appearance. It gives patients firmer, tightened skin and a healthier looking complexion.
AntiLax™ utilises the high power of monopolar radiofrequency for body contouring and a combination of infrared and bipolar radiofrequency for skin tightening and body firming. This multi-purpose beauty device can also be used to lift the face and reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
“This machine has the ideal combination of radiofrequency and infrared (CIRF Technology). There is also a built-in infrared thermometer that acts as a self-controlling cooling device. This ensures safety when operating the system,” says aesthetics practitioner Dr. Azizah Sulaiman.
After: Patient with a crooked jaw now has a symmetrical face after orthodontic treatment, which vastly improved his appearance and self-confidence.
Patients do not need to fear superficial burns because the machine controls the temperature of the epidermis, dermis and cooling by real time monitoring through the sensor on the hand piece. It enables deeper penetration into the skin with less risk of skin burn.
The treatment involves heating of the treatment area gradually until an optimum temperature of 41 degrees is achieved. Then, it will automatically stop to prevent further heating that might lead to burns on the skin.
The unique combination of radiofrequency and infrared technology increases the effectiveness of lifting with no downtime at all. “It involves no anaesthesia, no downtime and no specific aftercare. Patients can return to work immediately after treatment,” Dr. Azizah elaborates.
It usually takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes per session to heat up the treatment area. A minimum of five treatments, with two-week intervals in between, are required to see visible and lasting results.
Patients might experience some redness on the treated area immediately after treatment but are advised to refrain from swimming or taking a bath for at least two hours afterwards to enable the heat to work its magic.
“I find it a very convenient and effective tool to help patients restore elasticity, to tighten and to firm the skin,” Dr. Azizah states.
A patient says: “There’s not much discomfort from the heat except for the first second or two. Some cooling gel was put on to reduce the discomfort. The whole session was conveniently done within 30 minutes. I saw and felt a minimal firming effect immediately after the first session.”
Effects last for: Six months to a year.
Cost of treatment: RM800 – RM1200 per session depending on areas treated. A minimum of five treatments is required for visible and lasting results.
Zerona® – Liquefying Fat Cells with a Cold Laser
Zerona® is another relatively new body contouring treatment. According to aesthetics practitioner, Dr. Nadzri Mokhtar, Zerona® is the only low level laser that is FDA approved for circumferential reduction.
“The fat will be sucked into the lymphatic system and broken down into free fatty acids which are then utilised by the muscles and liver as energy. It has been proven histologically that cells actually do shrink upon irradiation by the laser. As a result, the fat cells become smaller, so inches are reduced off the treatment areas,” Dr. Nadzri explains.
The clinically proven safe low level laser ensures a relaxing treatment session for the patient. The patient lies down on a bed for 20 minutes each on the front and on the back. The machine does not touch the patient’s body as such as it emits the laser.
Dr. Nadzri elaborates, “It’s a painless and quick treatment of 40 minutes. A minimum of six sessions are required to see maximum results. It is administered over a two week period on alternate days.”
The device comes with four retractable arms which allow it to focus effectively on specific treatment areas. Zerona® can be used on just about every part of the body where localised fat is resistant to diet and exercise. It targets various parts – waist, hips and thighs – in a single treatment. Other areas that it can be used on include the upper arms, bra-line fat, inner part of the knees, back fat and buttocks.
“This is definitely a safer option compared to liposuction and other treatments that use heating to remove fat cells. Zerona® poses no risk and offers a 100 percent non-invasive treatment with no bruising, no scarring and zero downtime,” assures Dr. Nadzri.
However, anyone undergoing this treatment will need to consume dietary supplements for a week before the treatment and will need to continue this for a week after the minimum of six sessions. Furthermore, there are guidelines for diet and exercise that need to be followed in order to maximise results after treatment.
“Clinical trials have proven an average reduction of three to nine inches on patients after six sessions. Of course, they need to follow the recommended guidelines,” Dr. Nadzri states.
Effects last for: Permanent with good diet and exercise regimen.
Cost of treatment: RM6600 for six sessions.
UltraShape® – Destroys Fat Cells through Pulsed Focused Ultrasound
If you are relatively fit but have a few bulges here and there, you might consider treatment with UltraShape®. It is the first and only body contouring and sculpting device that is based on pulsed focused ultrasound technology.
“It focuses sound waves into a point within the fat layer in pulses. When the sound waves cross, they create a shockwave to destroy the fat cells. When the fat cells are destroyed, the fat layer collapses translating to a small abdominal or thigh girth,” says Singaporean aesthetics practitioner, Dr. David Loh.
He says, “Pulsed focused ultrasound is not the same as other ultrasound devices used in spas and beauty centres where continuous sound waves are transmitted into the fat layer to vibrate the fat cells. These have unpredictable results. Each pulse of the UltraShape®’s unique energy is backed by years of research and development, making for promising fat cell destruction results.”
Dr. Loh also says that UltraShape®’s predictability and reproducible results sets it apart from other non-invasive body contouring devices. “The satisfaction rate is 80 to 90 percent in my practice. This is in line with clinical trials done in various overseas centres.”
The procedures begin by marking the treatment areas on the patient’s body, and this is locked into the UltraShape®’s built-in computer. It will guide the therapist over the whole area without missing a spot. Some patients have described it as a mild electrical sensation when the pulses penetrate the fat cells.
“There is absolutely no downtime after each session. The area is not sore, unlike the cooling and thawing of fat. Three sessions with an interval of two weeks in between are recommended. Depending on how large the treatment areas are, most treatments last about an hour,” says Dr. Loh.
“All my patients acknowledge that there are results. We are seeing on average five to six reductions in abdominal girth after three treatments. The bigger sized patients will see more reduction mainly because they have more fat to start with,” he adds.
Patients are advised to reduce their carbohydrate intake for several days after each session to force the body to use up the released fatty acids as energy.
A patient says: “The process of securing the fat into one area with adhesive tape is quite tedious and removing it poses some discomfort too but it is an important step to ensure the fat cells do not migrate to other places. During the treatment, I felt a rubber band snapping sensation along with slight heat but I was made comfortable with the chilled soothing gel. After the treatment, I noticed that the treatment area was a little firmer. Further sessions are needed to see the real results.”
Effects last for: Permanent with sensible diet and exercise regimen.
Cost of treatment: RM2500 – RM3000 per area.
Credit : www.cosmeticsurgeryandbeauty.com/resources/body/guide-non-invasive-body-contouring