Non-Abrasive Fat Reduction

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With swimsuit season just around the corner, you may be looking for ways to quickly trim some fat from those problem areas that never seem to budge. Local plastic surgery practices and medical spas have some potential solutions you may want to consider. Unlike liposuction or other invasive procedures, these non-invasive, FDA-approved techniques are relatively low-risk, require no downtime and have few side effects.

    The Lifestyle Center offers Zerona for the circumferential reduction of waist, hips and thighs. Medical director Dr. Richard Moore describes it as a “low-level laser therapy that is very passive.” Patients simply lie beneath the device for 40 minutes per session. “It looks like an octopus with a central beam and four arms that all have lasers coming out of them,” Moore says. Once all the sessions are completed, “people typically lose around 7 inches total from multiple measurements—thighs, hips, abdomen.”

    Zerona treats several areas at once, so those who want fat reduction in only one specific area may find other treatments are better suited to their needs. Moore adds that any non-invasive treatment has variable individual results. “Some people get a terrific response, and some get a more modest response,” he notes.

    Zerona opens tiny channels within the fat cells, allowing fat to be eliminated through normal waste-removal processes, Moore explains. Patients may require up to nine treatments, with supplements available to help with the fat excretion process. Patients also are encouraged to drink plenty of water, walk for 30 minutes per day, and eat a healthy, low-fat diet.

    Another option is Zeltiq, also known as CoolSculpting. Like Zerona, patients simply relax during treatment, although the device is placed on the body so that tissue is caught between two “cooling plates that apply cold energy across the tissue for about an hour” per treatment, says Dr. Brock Ridenour of Ridenour Plastic Surgery.

        “When you remove the device, the tissue is like a stick of butter—hard and cold to the touch,” he says. “Fat is less resistant to cold injury than skin is, so the fat cells are irreversibly injured and will actually crystallize, but the skin is not injured. And those fat cells don’t come back.” Like Zerona, fat is slowly released and removed from the body as a result of the cellular damage.

    Patients typically see about a 30 percent reduction in fat from the targeted area after a single treatment, Ridenour says. However, because the process of fat leakage and removal is gradual, there is no danger of cholesterol or triglyceride spikes. And Ridenour stresses that Zeltiq is not a weight-loss technique but is simply used to spot-treat problem areas.

    At Synergi MedSpa patients can try VelaShape, which combines bipolar radiofrequency (RF), infrared light, vacuum and mechanical massage. The heat created by the RF and infrared energy is applied directly to the skin along with vacuum and massaging rollers.

    “VelaShape helps with size reduction and also treats cellulite,” says Tonya Pollak, a nurse at Synergi MedSpa. Like Zeltiq, VelaShape is recommended for those who are already at a healthy weight but want a degree of reduction to specific areas, such as the abdomen or thighs.

    VelaShape does not claim to be a permanent fat reduction technique because the fat cells decrease in size but are not destroyed. Therefore, they can once again store fat unless the patient commits to lifestyle changes that result in fat loss.

    Most patients receive three or four treatments and return for maintenance after about three months, Pollak says. “The average reduction is about a half to 3 centimeters, depending on the area we’re treating.”   LN