A protruding belly, those ugly bulges of fat, the mocking double-chin, jiggling love handles and a whole lot of cellulite: not exactly pleasant images to begin with. People generally have a lot of insecurities when it comes to the way they look and imagine if it is something that is commonly perceived as unattractive and off-putting; a feeling of urgency to change that as soon as possible.
A healthy amount of fat is indubitably essential for survival and a healthy appearance but when we become careless with our eating habits and start messing around with our routines, we get back a lot more than what we initially bargained for. Other health disorders aside, the shameless accumulation of fat is something that happens to the best of us during the worst of their days. That unhealthy fat gain distorts not only our physical appearance but also our general well-being at large. Sticking to a revamped schedule can help us improve drastically but that is not always the case. Moreover, some of us, unfortunately, possess certain fat pockets that always persist and intend to stay no matter how hard we try to get rid of them. At a certain point, all of that becomes extremely frustrating when all the cardio and dieting fails to bring forth substantial results. But surprisingly, there is more than you can do.
For patients at or near their ideal body weight who do not need significant reshaping in an area, non-surgical treatments can be a great option to reduce isolated pockets of diet and exercise resistant fat without surgery, and with little to no downtime. Non- surgical fat reduction includes minimally invasive treatments that selectively break down fat cells in specific areas to reduce the size of subcutaneous fat pockets (fat deposits that sit beneath the skin, but above the muscle). These treatments include technology that uses heat or cooling or an injected medication to reduce fat cells. While none of these treatments are a replacement for liposuction, they provide options for patients unwilling or unable to undergo surgery. Non-surgical fat reduction options use a variety of modalities, including ultrasound, radio frequency, infrared light, vacuum massage and injectable medication.
Non- Surgical Fat Reduction
Under the banner of non-surgical fat reduction, there is a wide array of options to choose from depending on your needs and requirements. With that being said, let us delve into the details of the treatments available.
i) Cryolipolysis: More commonly known as ‘CoolSculpting’, it is the most popular non-invasive fat reduction treatment in the world, with over 6 million treatments performed to date. It is an option worth considering for people who are close to their target weight but want to reduce small, localized trouble spots on the hips, abdomen, or thighs. This treatment uses a specialized cryolipolysis device to cool unwanted fat cells to the point of death without affecting the surrounding tissues. Once the fat cells die, they are flushed from the body during the days and weeks following the procedure. The basic goal of cryolipolysis is to reduce the volume of fat in a fatty bulge. This procedure doesn’t require anesthesia and some patients may opt to have more than one area treated or to retreat an area more than once. In this procedure, an applicator of the appropriate size and curvature is chosen after an assessment of the dimensions and shape of the fatty bulge to be treated. The area to be treated is marked to identify the site for applicator placement. This is followed by a gel pad being applied to protect the skin. The applicator is applied and the bulge is vacuumed into the hollow of the applicator. The temperature inside the applicator falls, and as it does so, the area becomes numb. Patients sometimes experience discomfort from the vacuum’s pull on their tissue, but this resolves within minutes, once the area is numb. Patients usually distract themselves with their phones, newspapers or books during the procedure and after the hour-long treatment, the area is massaged. The complication rate is very low and the satisfaction rate is extremely high. There is also an associated risk of surface irregularities and asymmetry. Consequently, patients may not get the result they might have hoped for. It is interesting to see that in less than 1 percent of the cases, patients may have paradoxical fat hyperplasia, which is an unexpected increase in the number of fat cells. This is three times more likely in men than in women and is seen more in those of Hispanic or Latino descent. The injured fat cells are gradually eliminated by the body over 4 to 6 months. During that time the fatty bulge decreases in size, with an average fat reduction of about 20 percent.
ii) Injection Lipolysis: Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps break down fat for digestion. In injectable form, deoxycholic acid can break down fat cells on contact for isolated reduction of a fat pocket. Currently, Kybella (formerly called ATX-101) is the only FDA approved form of injectable deoxycholic acid, and can be used to effectively reduce those persistent fat spots especially those that result in a double chin. Therefore, non-surgical candidates and patients interested in a nonsurgical approach to reducing the fat beneath the chin should be interested in injection lipolysis. The procedure can be done under local anesthesia and after the local anesthetic has been administered, a precise amount of medication is injected in a grid pattern that has been pre-marked on the skin beneath the chin. The procedure is relatively risk-free and involves minimal complications. However, a very small number of people reported experiencing problems while smiling and swallowing. Most patients have at least two treatments spaced 4 to 6 weeks apart, which is the typical duration of swelling. Patients can have up to six treatments to the area under the chin. Your plastic surgeon can develop a plan that best suits your individual anatomy. During the period of swelling, the area can look fuller than it did before treatment, but as the fat cells are disrupted and the inflammation subsides, most patients see results by 6 to 8 weeks after the treatment. If a patient sticks to a healthy routine and does not gain a lot of weight, the results are pretty long-lasting.
iii) Radiofrequency Lipolysis: Radiofrequency lipolysis is a medical cosmetic procedure which uses a radio frequency to heat the fat without the need of an instrument to make physical contact with the patient. The applicator heats the skin from a distance of about a centimeter. The fat cells are specifically heated without adversely affecting the other types of cells in the skin or other structures present in the vicinity. A popular type of radiofrequency lipolysis is known as Vanquish. Radiofrequency lipolysis is recommended for patients who wish to get spot reduction in those areas of their body which are very resistant to exercise and prolonged dieting. The basic aim of radiofrequency lipolysis is to reduce the volume of fat in a fatty bulge. Some patients may opt to have more than one area treated or to retreat an area more than once. The treatment does not require anesthesia and is relatively less time consuming as the treatment takes approximately thirty minutes and is repeated once a week for four weeks or as determined during the assessment. Patients who choose to undergo this treatment experience favorable results but it is not intended to lose huge amounts of fat. The treatment is used preferentially for the abdomen and flanks. A typical patient requires 1 to 3 treatments spaced 2 weeks apart, depending on the type of treatment and the results appear gradually; usually appearing between 6 to 12 weeks. A huge advantage of this technique is that the fat cells are permanently destroyed and they do not grow back which makes weight maintenance relatively easy.
iv) Laser Lipolysis: Laser lipolysis is a cosmetic procedure that uses laser energy that is delivered through an applicator. The fat cells are preferentially heated and disrupted without impacting other types of cells in the skin or other structures. A relatively known type of laser lipolysis goes by the name of SculpSure. This type of treatment is preferred by the same class of customers as mentioned above: those who wish to get rid of love handles and abdominal fat. This makes it ideal for removing localized pads of fat. After an assessment of the dimensions and shape of the abdominal or flank fatty bulge to be treated, the area is marked to identify the site for applicator placement. The applicator is applied, and the patient feels a cooling sensation. During the 25-minute treatment, the patient may feel intermittent warmth and/or tingling. It is a minimally invasive procedure that uses heat from fiber-optic lasers at various wavelengths to melt body fat. This is a process that differs from liposuction, which involves removing fat from the body using vacuum suction. The added benefit of laser lipolysis is that it spurs the production of the protein collagen, making the skin tauter. This procedure does not require anesthesia and the risk of associated complications is minimal with patients reporting of tenderness, redness and swelling at most if anything. The results may first be visible at 6 weeks and are definitely apparent by the end of 3 months.
Since we are done with the different techniques available, it would be wise to bring the cost factor into account. The average cost of nonsurgical fat reduction is $1,481 and the average cost of injection lipolysis is $1,149, according to 2017 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The price of nonsurgical fat reduction will be based on the expertise and qualifications of the person performing the procedure, the type of procedure used, the time and effort the treatment requires, as well as geographic office location.
Pricing in Pakistan
Fortunately, here in Pakistan, the prices are greatly toned down to appeal to the consumer market. Here a single non-surgical fat reduction session can cost anywhere from Rs 40,000 to Rs 80,000 which is way less than what you will otherwise have to pay overseas. Moreover, depending on the size and the area being treated, the cost will definitely vary. All in all, such non-invasive procedures are interesting alternatives to the riskier surgical procedures and also have very favorable reviews. With all the factors considered, undoubtedly, this is here to stay.