In our VG Rx series, The Violet Files enlists the best doctors in the business to dispense targeted beauty prescriptions. This week: targeting stubborn fat without surgery.
Written By JESSICA PRINCE ERLICH
Q: HOW CAN I ELIMINATE STUBBORN FAT WITHOUT SURGERY?
A: “I’ve done fat removal treatments on everything from the double chin to the cankles,” says Dr. Anne Chapas, a New York City dermatologist. “That’s the beauty of it, people can really sculpt the area they want.” With the help of a new crop of no-cutting-cutting-edge technologies Chapas can banish bulges by freezing, frying or emulsifying fat with little to no downtime. Choosing the right treatment depends on your build and the amount of fat you have. “Say it’s a little area of fat by the bra, or a tiny bit around the knees, or the neck, then handheld spot treatments, whether a radiofrequency device like TruSculpt or ultrasound device like Liposonix are great,” explains Chapas.
For larger areas like the stomach, hips, back, and thighs, “you need a broader treatment, and that tends to be more what CoolSculpting is for.” Through studies, doctors have confirmed that damage to fat cells occurs instantly during treatment, and over the course of several months are gradually flushed out by the body. “[Coolsculpt] removes the fat cells like it would remove any other damaged tissue in our body and it breaks down the fatty acids and triglycerides and uses it as energy.” And unlike liposuction, fat won’t make a surprise visit on another area of your body. So are you a candidate? “It is a good investment for someone who is within 15 pounds of their ideal weight, has a good diet and exercise program, and is going to continue that [routine] after the treatment,” says Chapas. Here, a breakdown of her blockbuster fat-busters.
HOW THEY WORK
This non-invasive, no-downtime procedure permanently shrinks fat cells using radiofrequency technology delivered through small hand pieces (half the size of your iPhone) placed over the treatment area for four minutes. Two sessions spaced one month apart are required. “It’s time-prohibitive to treat a large area like the thighs with a device this size,” explains Chapas. Bonus: because radiofrequency heats from the surface of the skin down, patients also reap tightening and cellulite-minimizing benefits in addition to fat reduction. Prepare for minimal discomfort. Results appear in four to 16 weeks.
To combat stubborn love handles, consider this handheld ultrasound device. It uses high-intensity heat energy to destroy fat cells, trimming an inch from your waistline in a single, one-hour treatment. Don’t expect much in the way of firming, warns Chapas: “the ultrasound devices bypass the top layer of the skin so, I don’t find I get as much tightening as I get with devices that heat from the surface all the way down.” Due to the uncomfortable nature of ultrasound, light anesthetics are administered prior to treatment. Results show in eight to 12 weeks and you may resume normal activities immediately.
To treat large surface areas on the body, this painless treatment freezes and crystalizes fat cells through a process called cryolipolysis. Chapas recommends two, hour-long appointments spaced two months apart during which the patient wears special applicators. On average expect to shed about a shot glass of fat per session. “It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s fairly reliable, but for people who don’t fit into the current applicators, that’s when we turn to the other heating devices, which I think work well,” Chapas says. Results appear in two to three months.
For patients with excess fat below the chin, “Kybella is the number one injectable treatment,” says Chapas. The doctor injects the main ingredient, deoxycholic acid, into the neck line and below the jaw to gradually break up and remove the fat that causes a double chin for a slimmer profile. For full and permanent results, two to six monthly treatments are recommended. Side effects like swelling, bruising, numbness, and redness are common in the treatment zone and can take a few weeks to subside.