A healthy body constitutes optimal function, physiology and proportions, which is achievable through the right nutrition and exercise. Exercise drives the body to function and helps tone our body with more muscle and stronger bones, whilst it reduces the fat content by metabolism if our nutrition is balanced and healthy. However, our bodies are genetically and hormonally shaped differently and sometimes in need of a little assisting in certain areas with localised fat or cellulite.
Before we dig into which treatments can help us achieve that much wanted balance, let’s discuss the differences between conventional exercise, surgery and having body contouring treatments.
Exercise changes the muscle/bone/fat ratio and your metabolic rate, which is a huge benefit, BUT it doesn’t reduce the number of fat cells in any given area. Therefore, if you have more fat cells or cellulite in a localised area, i.e. the belly, thighs, flanks, double chin, bingo wings etc, then fat will always distribute to that area, unless your total body fat reduces to between 0 – 10%, which for most people is unrealistic to sustain. Additionally, age will become a factor as certain areas become saggy with wrinkles and loose skin.
In the case of surgical procedures, they typically remove the fat instantly and have a permanent result. Most surgical procedures can only work in broad measures and the outcome is somewhat unrefined with lack of skin tightening, although they can lift by excision. However, this of course carries high risk and long recovery with often unsightly scars.
Nowadays, with technology advances in our industry, non-invasive treatments are a possibility. Procedures such as HIFU & CRYO, do not affect your general metabolism or build muscle tone, but, they do reduce the number of fat cells in the treated areas permanently. Therefore, this means that these treatments can help spot reduce and change where the fat builds on your body. However, these treatments do not reduce your total fat percentage, neither can they help reduce your visceral fat, (the fat around your organs), but they can spot reduce stubborn fat areas, providing help to those areas that conventional exercise just can’t get to. As there are many options in the market, we would like to provide a more in-depth explanation for you.
AVAILABLE NON-INVASIVE BODY CONTOURING DEVICES
EMSCULPT is a fairly new device, which uses electromagnetic stimulation to induce supramaximal muscle contraction and reduce fat by lipolysis; which is not apoptosis or cell death. This is basically an enhanced gym exercising device, which helps you burn calories, whilst toning your muscles at a multiplicative rate, but it does not change the number of fat cells or their distribution. There is no cell apoptosis and the result only lasts, as long as the muscle tone and metabolism is maintained.
RADIO FREQUENCY or RF is an electromagnetic wave treatment, which has been around for decades, it creates heat and moderately tightens and reduces fat. It is not a focal application and affects all the tissue it penetrates. The outcome is based on a generalised medium heating of the tissue, which is hard to obtain without damaging the superficial skin and therefore can affects both the skin and the underlying fat tissue. It has not been proven to cause fat cell apoptosis (cell death) and the tightening mainly comes from the transient heating/tightening of the collagen coils and potential long-term collagen growth. Multiple applications are necessary to get noticeable results. The treatment has not proven to give sustainable long-term results for fat reduction or skin tightening.
CRYOLIPOLYSIS or COOLSCULPTING is a new device, which freezes the fat by applying a suction cup, which then cools down the area to between plus 10-20 degrees, for between 30-60 minutes. The larger the area, the longer the treatment. It relies on the fact that fat cells are more sensitive to cooling than other cells, including skin. It is best used for more bulky areas and often a series of 3 treatments, 4 weeks apart are required to obtain a final good result. This treatment reduces the number of fat cells permanently, as it causes apoptosis below a certain temperature. This treatment does not tighten or tone the treated area. Therefore, we usually combine it with HIFU to tighten the skin. The treatment is not painful and only has minor side effects, depending on the temperature and length of time which is applied. Pigmentation and transient desensitisation and uneven results are the commonest. The treatment takes effect 3-6 months later, when the body has metabolised the fat cells. It is a treatment for bulk, not for refinement!
HIFU or ULTHERAPY is high intensity focused ultrasound, which delivers focused energy to a selected target area without affecting any of the surrounding tissues, including the tissue it goes through. For body treatments, the target is both fat and skin at up to 13mm depth and for facial treatments, which are mostly for tightening and lifting, but it can also be applied to reduce fat. Each pass burns a number of holes at the selected dept, which means the fat cells are melted and die instantly, thus apoptosis. Furthermore, the tightening effect comes from directly shortening the underlying skin/collagen coils permanently and also possibly a long-term collagen growth effect. It is considered a very safe procedure as there are very few side effects like tenderness, swelling and some redness. Full effect is achieved after 3-6 months, once the body has metabolised and recovered the underlying affected areas but it is possible to see some instant results immediately after treatment. This treatment works extremely well on fat refinement, cellulite and tightening/lifting. Its pain level can be described from non-painful to moderate.
See below to watch video demonstrations of how HIFU can penetrate the target area without affecting any of the surrounding tissues, including the tissue it goes through.