As many of us know, some excess fat comes off relatively easily with improvements to diet and increased exercise. Some people respond more slowly to those factors. But some excess fat seems too stubborn to disappear even under rigorous diet and exercise regimens. Two new fat-removal methods promise results similar to those of liposuction, without resorting to invasive surgery.
That’s important since liposuction is so disruptive. Although effective, liposuction can cause short-term bruising and swelling, along with the somewhat cruel combination of post-procedure pain and longer-term numbness. The two methods discussed here invite none of those risks, nor those associated with invasive surgery.
Cryolipolysis destroys fat cells by freezing them, while selective RF melts fat with heat generated by radiofrequency waves. Could two procedures based on completely different premises be equally effective in removing stubborn fat?
Cryolipolysis was developed by ZELTIQ Aesthetics expressly as a non-surgical alternative to liposuction. ZELTIQ’s Coolsculpting machine targets one limited area at a time, slowly cooling fat cells until they freeze, which causes their walls to burst. The remaining material is safely absorbed into the body and disposed of.
The process is so targeted and the system’s safety features so sensitively that fat cells are permanently removed without any harm to surrounding tissue. Another advantage might seem at first like a drawback: final results of cryolipolysis are seen within two to three months, as affected fat cells are removed by the body. While this might seem like a long time to wait, the gradual nature of recovery from cryolipolysis allows the body enough time to fully adapt to its loss of fat, which helps patients achieve long-term success.
The Coolsculpting machine specializes in removing fat from the body’s most common trouble spots: the abdomen, hips, and thighs. Clinical research has also demonstrated its effectiveness in treating the arms, chest, chin, and chest, including pseudo-gynecomastia. ZELTIQ recently introduced the CoolCurve, an applicator that allows more refined sculpting over larger areas.
Heat as a fat-removal technique has been around for quite some time, but steam baths and the like provide only water loss, not fat reduction. A new generation of scientific approaches to heat-based fat loss is led by BTL Aesthetics and it’s Vanquish ME selective-RF machine.
Vanquish ME uses radiofrequency pulses of energy targeted directly at the adipose layer of skin, where fat resides. The pulses heat the adipose tissue, destroying fat cells, which are then safely disposed of by the body. Fat’s composition causes it to absorb energy at a rate different than that of surrounding tissue; the Vanquish ME machine is calibrated to emit RF waves of exactly the right frequency to be readily absorbed by fat, but not by surrounding tissue.
Selective-RF fat reduction is appropriate for nearly every part of the body, making it more flexible in some ways that cryolipolysis and better able to achieve smooth results over large areas. Selective RF also delivers quicker initial results, though full results are usually seen after two months of weekly treatments.
Two is Better Than One
Interestingly enough for two treatments that take completely different approaches to remove fat cells, practitioners are increasingly using cryolipolysis and selective RF together.
Cryolipolysis excels at destroying stubborn pockets of fat in patients who have otherwise made good progress with diet and exercise. Selective RF is better at sculpting larger areas of the body. Since each procedure is non-invasive and requires no downtime, they can be used in conjunction: while problems spots gradually slim down after cryolipolysis, selective RF can be used to gradually shape the rest of the body.