Almost 40% of the adult population of the United States is considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many others do not fall into this category, but nonetheless are considered overweight, when their Body Mass Index, or BMI, is calculated. Still others are carrying weight that they wish was gone for aesthetic reasons. Regardless of which camp a person falls into, when they are seeking non-surgical weight loss options, as their provider, it is up to you to solve their problem. Some non-surgical methods work better than others depending on age and body type. Sometimes a surgical approach will actually be better. Here we will go through some of the basics – a topic that will be covered in greater depth at SCALE 2019 Music City in May.
Non-Invasive Fat Removal Is Not For Everyone
According to the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, “Liposuction may be an excellent option for reducing larger deposits of excess fat. It can significantly improve [a] figure in several areas at once. Some negatives include a higher cost and greater risk for health complications than noninvasive techniques. Non Surgical fat reduction may be a better fit [for those] already at ideal weight, have good skin elasticity, and want to target smaller, stubborn trouble spots. However, the results will not be as dramatic and multiple treatments may be necessary.”
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons agrees. In their 2017 article, “What Are the Best Options for Noninvasive Fat Removal”, they wrote:
A person’s body will create fat cells at only two developmental stages in life. The first stage occurs during embryonic development in utero (development in the uterus). The second stage of development occurs when one goes through puberty. Shedding excess weight can prove difficult as genetics, age, diet and loss of mobility are all risk factors for fat accumulation. All too often individuals look for alternative options to liposuction for help removing that excess and/or unwanted fat. While these options do not replace liposuction, they offer an alternative to surgery… One should work to maintain a healthy lifestyle before and after any treatment. Diet, exercise and metabolism can contribute to one’s outcome and maintenance of fat loss. Each patient is unique; therefore, each person should receive a personalized treatment plan from their plastic surgeon. A noninvasive treatment may not be right for you.
If non-surgical options will work for your clients’ needs, then there are some that are more interesting and work better than others.
These include the following.
Otherwise known as ‘fat freezing’ or the brand name ‘CoolSculpting,’ this is one of the hottest trends in the cosmetic procedures industry right now. It uses cooling technology to break down fat deposits in targeted areas. It has proven quite effective as a short term fat loss technique. It works best for people who are at, or very close to, their target weight, but have small spots, such as their arms, that they are seeking fat removal from.
A study was published in 2018 looking at its use for fat removal in arms, which it proves to be a good mechanism for removal of stubborn underarm fat. (Source). That study was picked up on by a number of beauty and fashion magazines, and the trend grew large. While it may be slowing down a little bit there is no reason to believe that people will stop seeking out CoolSculpting in 2019 and beyond, or that research and development will not lead to it being even more effective in the future.
In 2018 the FDA cleared EMsculpt for use as a fat burning device. It uses high intensity focused electromagnetic fields delivered to the orbital fat pads, which does not completely eliminate the fat. However it has a really interesting side benefit of stimulating muscle growth, which was not mentioned in the patent application, but has been reported on:
The electromagnetic pulses stimulate muscle contractions in the abs, what the company calls supramaximal contractions — as many as 20,000 in a typical 30-minute treatment. We actually burn fat, because of the intense muscle contractions, it needs fuel. So as these muscles are contracting, it breaks down fat to supply the energy, Katz said. He conducted one of seven clinical trials on Emsculpt using CT scans, MRIs and ultrasound to demonstrate both the fat reduction and muscle increase. After four 30-minute sessions, the results are pretty clear… In addition to the tummy, Emsculpt can also be used on the outer thighs and buttocks. The company is developing applicators for inner thighs, knees and arms. (Source).
These types of results will most likely lead to a lot of clients seeking out the treatment from those who offer it.
These energy-based devices help with body contouring by targeting sonic waves at fat pockets. It leaves the surrounding tissues unharmed. The fat cell walls are broken down and the fat is then able to be metabolized by the body.
As noted by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, the “FDA cleared ultrasound fat reduction treatments include UltraShape, which uses a pulsed ultrasound technology, and Liposonix, which uses a high intensity focused ultrasound.” A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, found only three ultrasound treatments led to noticeable and identifiable reduction of fat in the flanks. (Source). This technology is also expected to see significant market growth in the coming year.