So, you want to reduce the appearance of fat but want to avoid surgery? Nonsurgical fat reduction may be just what you need.

Why consider nonsurgical fat reduction?

Following are some common reasons why you may want to consider nonsurgical fat reduction:

  • You are in relatively good shape but have modest bulges of fat on your abdomen, flanks, back or thighs that you’d like removed.
  • You have pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise.
  • You wish to achieve a trimmer look without having to undergo an invasive surgical procedure.

It is important to note that nonsurgical fat reduction is not a weight loss treatment. This procedure is best suited for treating very limited volumes of fat of the abdomen, flanks, back and thighs. Because larger volumes of fat require multiple nonsurgical treatments, liposuction is probably a better option for larger fat accumulations.

What is nonsurgical fat reduction?

Nonsurgical fat reduction is a procedure that uses specialized equipment to create a controlled injury to small volumes of fat. Currently, there are two types of devices used for nonsurgical fat removal: ultrasound and cold energy or cryolipolysis. Both allow outpatient treatment resulting in efficient and consistent fat reduction as well as enhanced body contour.

Pros
  • Effective in diminishing stubborn areas of unwanted body fat.
  • Outpatient treatment with little to no downtime and minimal discomfort.
  • No incision required.
Cons
  • Multiple treatment sessions may be needed to produce satisfactory results.
  • Small burns are extremely rare but have been noted with ultrasound devices.
  • Temporary redness and numbness may occur.
  • These are the top three pros and cons to weigh when considering nonsurgical fat reduction. If you want to focus on those specifically unique to you, please consult with your aesthetic plastic surgeon.

The two main types of nonsurgical fat reduction

Depending upon your needs, your surgeon may recommend one of the following treatment modalities:

Ultrasound
  • Premedication is usually not needed.
  • Your treatment areas are marked by your surgeon.
  • A technician applies a thin layer of gel to your skin.
  • The ultrasound transducer head is then moved over the treatment area. The same area may be treated more than once.
  • Your session may last anywhere from a half hour to several hours.
Cryolipolysis
  • The fatty area is sucked up into a handpiece between two metal plates and the area is slowly cooled.
  • Current treatment guidelines are one hour per site.

 

Though clinical studies show cryolipolysis works, this is an “off-label” treatment according to FDA guidelines. The FDA acknowledges that “off-label” treatments may represent the state-of-the-art treatment.

There are currently two types of devices used for nonsurgical fat removal: ultrasound and cold energy or cryolipolysis. Your board-certified plastic surgeon will determine what is best for you based on his or her experience, your body type and your cosmetic goals.

Ultrasound

Think about ultrasound energy like sunlight. A magnifying glass can focus sunlight to ignite paper. Above and below the point of focus, paper does not burn. In a similar manner, by focusing ultrasound energy, only fat near the focus point is injured. Your skin (above the focus point) and tissue (below the focus point) are protected. Your body then slowly absorbs the damaged fat. One or more treatments may be needed.

Cryolipolysis

This treatment disrupts fat using a form of controlled frostbite. Research has shown that during frostbite fat cells freeze before skin freezes. Cryolipolysis works in the same way, freezing fat but not your skin. The “frozen fat” dies and is absorbed by your body over time. One or more treatments may be needed depending upon the amount of fat to be eliminated.

Preparing for your procedure

Your surgeon will provide you with pretreatment instructions and answer any questions that you may have. In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:

  • Stop smoking before undergoing treatment to promote better healing.
  • Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.
  • Regardless of the type of procedure to be performed, hydration is very important before and after treatment for safe recovery.

Nonsurgical fat reduction is usually performed on an outpatient basis. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after treatment and stay with you at least the first night following treatment.

Now that you know more about nonsurgical fat reduction, you’re ready to discuss it with a member of our team and decide if it is right for you.