Non-surgical fat reduction uses specialized equipment to create a controlled injury to small volumes of fat. If too much fat is damaged in any one area, there is a risk of scarring.
Currently, there are 2 types of devices used for non-surgical fat removal – ultrasound and cold energy, or cryolipolysis. Both allow outpatient fat treatment with no downtime and minimal to no discomfort. The most recognized ultrasound systems are Ultrashape and Liposonix. The cold energy treatment is called Zeltiq.
Am I a Good Candidate for Non-Surgical Fat Reduction
You are a good candidate if you have very limited regional fat deposits on your abdomen, flanks or back. Ultrasound may also be used for outer thigh fat. Because larger volumes of fat require multiple non-surgical treatments, liposuction is probably a better option for larger fat accumulations.
How they work
Think about ultrasound energy like sunlight. A magnifying glass can focus sunlight to ignite paper. Above and below the point of focus, paper does not burn. In a similar manner, by focusing ultrasound energy, only fat near the focus point is injured. Your skin (above the focus point) and tissue below the focus point are protected. Your body then slowly absorbs the damaged fat.. No change in blood levels of fats are noticed. One or more treatments may be needed.
This treatment disrupts fat using a form of controlled frostbite. Research has shown during frostbite fat cells freeze before skin freezes. Cryolipolysis works in the same way, freezing fat, but not your skin. The “frozen fat” dies, and is absorbed by your body over time. As with the ultrasound devices, there is little risk of skin injury or change in blood levels of fats. One or more treatments may be needed depending upon amount of fat.
Non-Surgical Fat Reduction Technique
As with any treatment, your doctor will help you decide whether you are a candidate for non-surgical fat reduction. Your discussion should include a discussion of the risk, benefits, and alternatives for your treatment. As with most other aesthetic procedures, before and after photos are typical/
Ultrasound: Your treatment areas are marked by your surgeon. Similar to a baby ultrasound, a technician will apply a thin layer of gel to your skin. The ultrasound transducer head is then moved over the treatment area. The same area may be treated more than once.. Your session may last anywhere from a half hour to several hours. Premedication is usually not needed.
Cryolipolysis: The fatty area is sucked up into a handpiece between 2 metal plates and the area is slowly cooled. Current treatment guidelines are 1 hour per site. Though clinical studies show cryolipolysis works, according to FDA guidelines, this is an “off-label” treatment. The FDA acknowledges that “off-label” treatments may represent the state of the art treatment.
Non-Surgical Fat Reduction Benefits:
- Treats undesirable fat deposits of the abdomen, flanks, back and thighs
- No incision required
- Minimal discomfort
- Minimal risk of skin injury
- May be considered for all skin types
- Little or no downtime
Non-Surgical Fat Reduction Considerations
- Non-surgical fat removal is best for limited volumes of fat of the abdomen, flanks, back and thighs
- Liposuction is still preferred for many patients
- This is not a weight loss treatment
- Multiple treatment sessions may be needed
- Like any new treatment, total treatment cost may be higher than traditional liposuction
- Small burns are extremely rare but have been noted with the ultrasound devices
- Skin may be red in the treated area for a few hours
- Temporary numbness has been noted in some patients with both ultrasound devices and cryolipolysis
Non surgical fat reduction usually requires little, if any recovery. For most patients, full activity may be resumed immediately.
Will it be painful?
The ultrasound devices vary in the amount of pain from minimal to moderate depending upon device, amount of fat treated, and area treated. Pain medication may be given for some treatment. The cryolipolysis device gives minimal to no discomfort. No pain medication is required after the procedure.
Will there be scarring?
Risk of scarring is extremely small
What are some typical short-term side-effects?
Some patients may experience skin redness, temporary swelling of the treated area and temporary numbness of the area
Why type of anesthesia, if any, will be used?
While traditional anesthesia is not needed, some patients (especially larger treatment areas), may benefit from oral pain medication.
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