So you want to get rid of unsightly pockets of fat but can’t stand the thought of undergoing traditional liposuction where the doctor suctions out the fat through a surgical incision? You may be surprised to find out that there are several new ways to have liposuction without surgery!
You may recognize the names laser liposuction, Smart Lipo, Slim Lipo, laser lipolysis, ultrasonic liposuction or VASER liposuction, but those are all considered surgical procedures because the fat still has to be removed via small incisions. But there are non invasive liposuction techniques that use some method to break down fat (e.g., ultrasound, laser, injectible compounds) and cause it to be removed from the body naturally.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, liposuction was one of the top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2010 (over 200,000 procedures). Thousands more patients are taking advantage of non surgical liposuction as well.
Non surgical liposuction
There are two main techniques for non surgical liposuction – chemical injection and thermal heat. Keep in mind that these options are not cheap and are most successful when targeting small areas of fat.
- Mesotherapy – Mesotherapy is also called “injection lipolysis” and is one of the more popular non surgical liposuction techniques. It includes methods named Lipodissolve, Flab-Jab, LipoZap and others. Chemicals are injected into the fat cells. This “melts” the fat which is then expelled from the body through urination. The procedure is reportedly safe but up to 30 chemicals may be used to create the “cocktail” and you must be cautious if you suffer from allergies. Discuss this with your doctor. You may encounter some bruising or swelling after treatment, but these should diminish in a few days. Each treatment costs between $200 and $700. You may need several treatments before you see the results you are looking for. The U.S. FDA has not approved the use of mesotherapy.
- Thermage – This method of non surgical liposuction involves a heated laser that melts fat below the skin, tightens skin and stimulates collagen. Thermage can cost from $2,500 to $9,000 for one treatment. Patients say there is no soreness or pain but redness, swelling and blisters may last for several days. Thermage is FDA-approved.
- UltraShape and LipoSonix – Available in Canada, Mexico and 50 other countries, these non surgical liposuction methods have not been approved for use in the U.S. High frequency ultrasound waves are transmitted through the skin to destroy the underlying fat cells. The fat is removed naturally by the body. The price ranges from $3,000 to $7,000 and you can expect to have about three treatments before you see results. Patients claim the results are good and the procedure apparently causes no pain, bruising, bleeding or risk of infection.
- Endermologie – This treatment has been approved by the FDA and is primarily used to reduce cellulite. A machine gently kneads the skin to reduce fat and stimulate collagen and elastin. Some patients report pain and are unhappy with the results; others are pleased with the results after 10 to 20 treatments. The cost for a treatment package averages $1,600.
- Velasmooth and Accent XL – These devices use radiofrequency energy to dissolve fat cells. The fat is absorbed by the body and expelled in the urine. They are useful for tightening skin and reducing cellulite and fat. The devices have been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. You can expect treatment to cost between $2,000 and $6,000 and you may need several treatments to see results.
- Zerona laser – This FDA-approved device is one of the newest options for non invasive liposuction geared toward small trouble spots. The laser produces a low-level (or “cool”) energy that creates a biological reaction in the fat cells, causing them to empty and deflate. The excess fat is then processed by the body and expelled naturally without any negative side effects.
- Zeltiq CoolSculpting (also called Cryolipolysis) – This FDA-approved body contouring treatment works particularly well for small areas of fat such as love handles. A gel patch freezes fat cells and causes them to self-destruct. They are later reabsorbed in the body. Patients say the after-effects of the treatment feels like a mild sunburn. Side effects may include temporary bruising, tingling, and tenderness. Each treatment costs around $1,500.
- Topical creams and lotions– There are always over-the-counter lotions and creams claiming to melt fat. Some researchers believe that, if these products work at all, they do so by causing fluid loss rather than fat loss. Their effectiveness is unproven.
Non surgical liposuction may be a good alternative for people who hate needles, and don’t want the side effects from traditional liposuction. However, there are differences of opinion as to whether these non surgical liposuction options are safe, reliable, or work at all. Consult your doctor before deciding on any method of non surgical liposuction.