Options for Medical Fat Reduction

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With proper diet, exercise, and the increasingly popular practice of intermittent fasting, a person may hone in closer to their ideal weight. Still, sometimes stubborn fat pockets can resist a person’s best efforts and are one of the most commonly treated concerns in modern aesthetic medicine. 

Aesthetic body sculpting falls into four main procedure types: Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), Liposuction, Cryolipolysis® (Coolsculpting) and most recently, Heating/Muscle Stimulation (Emsculpt Neo®).

Before the advent of body sculpting devices, abdominoplasty and liposuction were the mainstay treatments for body contouring. Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure where excess skin and fat from the abdominal area are removed, and the abdominal wall muscles are tightened. Though complete recovery from a full abdominoplasty procedure can take up to a few months and leave a visible scar, this may be the most appropriate option for those who have lost a lot of weight and have an abundance of loose hanging skin. 

Liposuction is another cosmetic surgery procedure that reshapes and contours parts of the body by removing excess fat deposits. A small incision is made in the area to be treated through which a cannula (long hollow needle) is used to suction fat cells. Full recovery can take up to three months, depending on the extent of the procedure. Innovations have introduced laser energy to break down the fat more precisely and efficiently with less recovery time due to the use of a smaller cannula and may even use additional laser frequencies to help tighten the skin. 

Coolsculpting® (cryoliposis or fat freezing) is a noninvasive procedure which uses freezing temperatures to damage and kill fat cells. Different size applicators can be used to target different parts of the body, including smaller areas such as under the chin and other difficult to target areas. Patients may need multiple treatments spaced at monthly intervals, and up to 25% of fat cells can be eliminated in the areas being treated. Treatment time can vary from 30-60 minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated, and full results can be seen in about three months upon completing treatment. Coolsculpting does not treat or tighten any loose skin overlying the area treated. Temporary effects include bruising, swelling, redness, tingling and numbness for up to 4 weeks. 

The newest arrival to the body sculpting scene is the Emsculpt Neo®, which uses HIFEM (High-Intensity Focused Electro-Magnetic) technology combined with Radiofrequency (RF) energy to achieve both up to 30% fat loss and 25% muscle gain in specific areas of the body. The treatment is delivered through paddles that are applied to the area being targeted. HIFEM causes muscles to contract in an ultra-intense way that is not possible through exercise alone, leading to increased muscle volume, resulting in increased muscle strength and tone. The RF energy, which delivers comfortable but penetrating heat, works synergistically with HIFEM to stress the fat cells and ultimately cause fat reduction. RF energy can also help to tighten some of the slack and improve the appearance of the skin. A treatment series consists of 4 sessions, each lasting about 30 minutes, given once to twice a week. Despite the intensity of the workout, there is minimal if any muscle soreness and no downtime. Results can be seen as soon as a month, but full results take about three months to be fully apparent. 

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