Want to get rid of the pooch under your belly button or an inch of fat on your inner thighs? What about back fat, love handles or even cankles? The technology is here for you to just take it all away.
BURN THAT FAT
“We live in an exciting era of advancement for noninvasive fat removal and body contouring. Although traditional liposuction remains a great choice for many, more people are turning to noninvasive, no-anesthesia treatments,” says Arash Akhavan, M.D., of The Dermatology and Plastic Surgery Group in New York City. “None of these devices are for weight loss; they’re for the reduction of fat,” says Heidi Waldorf, M.D., director of laser and cosmetic dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “These new treatments heat the fat—-using laser light, ultra-sound or radio frequency—to destroy it. Once fat cells are destroyed, they are naturally eliminated from the body.”
BTL VANQUISH ME ($500–$750 per session; series of four recommended) is one such treatment. The FDA-cleared device, which uses a large panel that emits radio frequency energy, is a favorite of board-certified dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D. “It’s ideal for the abdomen, as it evenly treats the whole area, from flank to flank. The procedure also works well on tougher fat, as well as squeezable, softer fat.”
SCULPSURE($2,000–$3,000 for a series of four treatments) is yet another radio frequency device. It is FDA-cleared for use on the abdomen and love handles, but is undergoing clinicals for usage elsewhere. “The SculpSure laser specifically targets the fat cells with heat. They’re damaged permanently, and after the treatment your lymphatic system clears them away. SculpSure has been shown to eliminate up to 24 percent of fat volume,” says Mitchell Chasin, M.D., of the Reflections Center for Skin & Body in New Jersey. “SculpSure works best for those who are living a healthy lifestyle—-eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly—but still have stubborn problem areas. We find this treatment is perfect for those who have hit a plateau, as well as those who want to pair the procedure with a targeted plan for fat loss,” adds Chasin.
“The ideal candidate for noninvasive fat removal is one that has localized “pockets of fat.””
—BRUCE E. KATZ, M.D.
“LIPOSONIX ($1,500–$4,000 for one session) is another noninvasive fat loss treatment, but it uses high-intensity focused ultrasound energy to damage fat cells. It’s a longer treatment than SculpSure and many report it to be uncomfortable. However, it has ten years of safety and proven effectiveness behind it,” says Chasin. “The ideal candidate for this noninvasive fat removal is one that has localized “pockets of fat” that diet and exercise just can’t get rid of,” says Bruce E. Katz, M.D., director of the Juva Skin & Laser Center in New York City. “Obese patients are not ideal candidates for noninvasive body contouring treatments.” Nor are those with hanging skin or skin folds. These cases are best treated with a surgical procedure.
“It takes two to three months after [noninvasive fat removal] treatments for the body to flush out the fat cells. I advise patients to start the procedure in the spring to notice the results by summer,” says New York City dermatologist Anne Chapas, M.D.
“It’s important to assess what the underlying issue is,” says dermatologist Francesca Fusco of Wexler Dermatology in New York City. “Sometimes I see women who think they have an excess fat issue when it’s just loose skin.” The good news is that noninvasive devices address both fat removal and tightening.
Hollywood skin care guru Jamie Sherrill, aka Nurse Jamie, R.N., combines KYBELLA, an FDA-approved injectable procedure that dissolves unwanted fat pockets in the chin, knees or ankles, with firming treatments like ULTHERA, in which ultrasound energy is used to tighten loose skin to slim and contour the lower leg and cankles. Her Kybella and Ulthera cankle combo starts at $500, and most clients need two sessions. “There is zero downtime, and most patients are happy after one to two treatments,” says Nurse Jamie.
Moving back up the body, FUTURA FIT ($600 per session), a pain-free alternative to liposuction, uses ultrasound and electrical current to define and tone muscles. “It’s like a supercharged personal trainer,” says Jeannel Astarita, an aesthetic laser specialist in New York City. “It works well on the core but also really defines, lifts and firms the thighs and butt.” Astarita says her typical results are extraordinary for her superfit clients. Butts are firmed and dramatically lifted, and there’s clear definition in the legs and back muscles, she claims. Some patients say the treatment took them to another level.
“I really don’t believe in noninvasive treatments that don’t actually remove the fat.”
—AARON ROLLINS, M.D.
Cosmetic surgeon and body-sculpting specialist Aaron Rollins, M.D., of Elite Body Sculpture in Beverly Hills, is not a fan of the aforementioned noninvasive treatments. He argues that next-level fat removal needs to include, well, actual fat removal. His patented AIRSCULPT method (starting at $4,000) involves a minimally invasive freckle-size puncture hole: “There are no needles, scalpels or stitches. The patient is awake, and after the procedure he or she can walk out and have lunch.”
LIFT THAT BOOTY
Bet you didn’t know you could get the results of a surgical Brazilian Butt Lift without the operation. If you’re not in good enough physical condition to take advantage of Futura Fit and you don’t want to go under the knife for a traditional BBL, Rollins’s AirSculpt method might be for you. He takes patients’ fat—usually from the waist or the abdomen, again—while they are awake, and then injects the fat into the butt. “The amazing part is, since the patients are awake we give them a mirror and they can give us input such as “Bigger” or “Rounder,” much like when getting a haircut,” says Rollins. He adds that the effects are considered permanent, but if a patient loses or gains a lot of weight the results will diminish.
The FDA-approved THERMI-SMOOTH BODY, another promising firming procedure, uses a laser for skin tightening and cellulite. “The ideal candidate is anyone who has any loose skin anywhere on the body,” says Jamé Heskett, M.D., founder and medical director of the Wellpath, a wellness center in New York City. “It works for the face, neck, arms and legs. Areas like the abdomen or arms might take only 10 to 15 minutes. While areas like the back of the thighs and buttocks might take 30 minutes.” There is zero downtime and no discomfort. Three sessions, costing $1,500 to $2,000, are usually recommended for optimal results.
SMOOTH AND PERFECT
“[One of] the biggest breakthroughs in the treatment of cellulite is the FDA-cleared CELLFINA [$3,000–$6,000 per treatment, depending on the area],” says Akhavan. “With this procedure, the cellulite dimples are anesthetized with a tiny local injection [similar to what you would get at the dentist’s office]. After that, a narrow, oscillating instrument breaks down the fibrous bands that cause cellulite,” he adds.
Astarita reminds us that with any cosmetic procedure you should “ask to see before and after pictures of the provider’s own work, rather than those provided by a device manufacturer.” And “regardless of how qualified a doctor or technician seems to be, you should seek treatment by someone who spends time explaining everything and hearing your concerns during your consultation. If they don’t have time for you before they take your money, they certainly won’t afterward,” advises Astarita.
Prices for the procedures in this story vary by physician, facility and market. Consult your primary care doctor before proceeding with any cosmetic procedure, noninvasive or otherwise.
This story appeared in the April 2016 edition of ESSENCE magazine