How Noninvasive Fat Removal Procedures Measure Up
Nonsurgical procedures involving lasers, radio waves, ultrasounds and more are bridging the gap between plastic surgery and at-home beauty treatments. But how do these methods stack up against their more invasive counterparts?
Let’s take a look at the differences between some traditional cosmetic procedures and their more cutting-edge alternatives.
Costs vs. benefits
Minimally invasive procedures often draw patients in with lower costs, shorter downtimes and reduced medical risks. For instance, a few injections of Botox may reduce wrinkles in a matter of minutes, while a traditional face-lift is costly and requires extensive recovery time. However, with these benefits come results that can’t always compare with more aggressive treatments.
Depending on the look you’re after, a cosmetic surgeon can help you decide whether a minimally invasive treatment will be sufficient to help you reach your goal. If you’re looking for minor changes, nonsurgical options could be a perfect fit.
However, sometimes multiple treatments are necessary, which can potentially lead to higher cumulative costs than having one invasive surgery alone.
Surgical fat reduction
One of the most common forms of cosmetic surgery is fat removal, reduction or relocation.
Liposuction is a tried-and-true fat reduction technique that’s been around for decades. Its results are considered permanent, although it’s still possible to regain weight and cause the remaining fat cells to expand. Nonetheless, a vast majority of individuals who get liposuction are happy with their outcome, assuming they chose a recommended and qualified physician to perform the procedure.
A surgeon can perform liposuction using general or local anesthesia. If a large amount of fat is removed, you might need to stay in the hospital overnight after the procedure. Risks include contour irregularities, fluid accumulation and infection. To reduce swelling, you may be sent home with a surgical drain, or a small plastic tube placed in the body to collect fluid. Special care will be required as your incisions heal. Pain medication, antibiotics and compression garments are typically provided to aid the recovery process. It can take several months for your final results to become apparent.
Nonsurgical fat reduction
To counteract surgical risks and long healing periods, cosmetic surgeons have developed several nonsurgical fat removal techniques.
It’s impossible to achieve the same level of fat removal with these methods that you’d get from liposuction, but treatments like these can produce some results with very little downtime. Three of the more popular options include cryolipolysis, laser lipolysis and radiofrequency lipolysis:
By freezing fat cells with a vacuum-like applicator, doctors can reduce fat, on average, by 20 percent. It takes about four to six months for your body to eliminate the impacted fat cells from your body naturally. Treatment is approximately one hour, and you may require several rounds spaced apart to get your desired result.
Laser lipolysis (SculpSure)
With this method, applicators that emit lasers help break down fat cells under the skin. A laser lipolysis procedure usually takes just 25 minutes, and you’ll see the final results between six weeks and three months after the treatment. Your doctor may recommend two to three treatments to reach a maximum of 24 percent fat removal.
Radiofrequency lipolysis (Vanquish)
A device placed about a centimeter away from the skin uses radio waves to heat the underlying fat cells, thereby targeting fat without harming other tissues. Professionals typically recommend weekly 30-minute treatments for four weeks in a row. Some patients can lose up to 2 inches around their abdomen, but others may not achieve a noticeable result at all.
The best course of action
No matter what your personal goals are, a board-certified plastic surgeon can help you choose the right treatment. Both surgical and nonsurgical cosmetic medicine options are worth considering.
Explore all of your options with a medical professional and make the best decision for yourself based on your desired results, lifestyle and budget.