Non-invasive body contouring is where it’s at for stubborn fat that lingers despite watching your diet and exercising regularly. Even the most fit of women and men can struggle with extra padding on their stomachs or a touch of muffin top—and these bulges are often due to genetics, gender and other factors that are out of our control. And that’s where non-invasive body contouring treatments come in.
“Now, with advances in technology, fat and other tissue can be treated in ways that don’t involve making incisions, which translates to less downtime and quicker recovery,” explains plastic surgeon Dr. Sachin Shridharani of New York City’s LUXURGERY. “These non-invasive methods include using heat, cold or injections of chemicals to destroy fat cells without injuring the overlying skin.”
It’s important to keep in mind that non-invasive body contouring treatments are not meant to be used a means of weight loss, and are ideal for those with an “inch to pinch” or moderate fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. “More than ever, there are new and exciting techniques that help improve the body’s appearance without having to undergo anesthesia or a surgical procedure,” says Dr. Shridharani, “But it’s important to consult a certified provider to determine the best approach for you.”
CoolSculpting uses cold energy to destroy fat cells, which are then naturally eliminated by the body. The most common areas treated include the abdomen, back, love handles, beneath the chin and beyond. A single session can reduce up to 25% of unwanted fat in the treated area, but it’s important to know that fat-reduction is not immediate, and it can take up to eight weeks or more to see the full results—and many patients require multiple treatments to achieve optimal outcomes.
Instead of cold energy, SculpSure uses laser-generated heat—but this technology cools the skin’s surface during treatment to keep patients comfortable. Similar to other non-invasive body contouring treatments that target fat, unwanted cells are destroyed and naturally eliminated by the body for visible improvement a few months after treatment.
Whereas CoolSculpting uses cold and SculpSure uses laser energy, truSculpt uses radiofrequency to permanently destroy fat cells. According to Dr. Shridharani, this treatment has a distinct advantage over the others: “The truSculpt handpiece can be used to treat almost any area of the body.” As with other techniques, multiple treatments may be necessary to achieve the desired results.
Designed to firm and tone muscle rather than eliminate fat, Dr. Shridharani says, “This relatively new treatment uses electrical stimulation to cause muscle contractions and therefore simulate intense exercise in the treated area.” Currently cleared for use on the abdomen and buttocks, it’s a unique approach for enhancing muscle definition without the need for extra time in the gym.
Originally approved in 2015 to permanently reduce the fat that causes the appearance of a double chin, “Kybella is now considered safe for improving the contours of a variety of other areas, including the arms, abdomen and outer thighs,” says Dr. Shridharani. This injectable solution for unwanted fat is a synthetic version of deoxycholic acid, a naturally occurring molecule that metabolizes fat in the gastrointestinal tract, and in addition to permanently destroying fat, it tightens the skin in treated areas as well.