At some time or another you’ve likely wondered what non-invasive fat reduction treatments do to the body, and if they really work. Just the sound of it seems intriguing enough to make one curious as to whether they can truly whittle down muffin tops, shrink belly pooches, and firm up saddle bags. All of them claim to contour those parts of us that are genetically programmed to be shaped that way, which are the same parts that diet or exercise alone can’t eliminate. But, how much contouring can they actually do, and how quickly will results show up? Being an industry insider, I’m exposed to nearly all the various gadgets and equipment available to professionals. To stay on top of the game, I make a point to research all this technology to understand what the industry is up to, and where it’s going. There’s a lot to learn, which can be overwhelming to the average consumer who is trying to figure out what works, and which of these treatments is best for them and their needs. As someone who wants to get a treatment (or two) done myself, I wanted to investigate the best options for when that day comes where I will splurge on my vanity. Since good information is best when shared, here’s my insider take on what’s out there. I’ve narrowed down all the viable options to 3 treatments based on the following:
Let’s dig in, shall we? Coolsculpting Coolsculpting uses a patented cooling technology – similar to Cryotherapy – to target very specific areas of accumulated fat, such as love handles. One treatment takes an hour, with no down time afterward. A hand-held applicator is positioned on bulges of fat, which then vacuums it into the applicator. The “bulge” is held between two metal plates that apply a specific cold temperature that chills the fat without harming surrounding tissue or skin. The chilled fat cells are destroyed and begin to die over several weeks, which the body will eliminate through the lymphatic system (simply put, you pee it out). What’s left is a reduced layer of fat at the treated area. This is controlled by your body’s own natural response mechanism, so this happens a bit slowly. Change is typically noticeable within 2-4 months from the initial treatment. Often, more than one treatment is needed to achieve desired results. Coolsculpting is ideal for candidates with stubborn fat that have a certain amount of protrusion that you can grab and hold onto beyond a 1” pinch test. Although it has been approved for treating the thighs, it is more often applied to the flanks (muffin tops) or lower abdomen (belly). Since results typically show over a 2-4 month period, it’s best to plan ahead if you are considering Coolsculpting in preparation for an event, like a wedding or a vacation. Side effects are minimal, such as redness, temporary nerve pain and some swelling. However, some cases of indentations caused by the edge of the vacuum applicator, or small lumps triggered by the cold procedure itself, have been reported. Everyone’s body will respond differently, so it’s best to allow enough time for these to show up and resolve. Liposonix Liposonix is a unique treatment that targets the mid-level layer of fat in larger, more general areas of the abdomen. The procedure takes an hour, with no downtime afterward. Rather than cold, it uses thermal ultrasonic energy to destroy the fat and stimulate the collagen around the treated area to firm up skin. A hand-held applicator gently glides across the target area, moving in a pattern to achieve the desired post procedure shape. The applied ultrasonic heat penetrates deeper than cold, destroying the fat cells, thereby causing them to die over several weeks. The body eliminates the damaged fat cells through the lymphatic system (similar to Coolsculpting, you pee it out), leaving behind a reduced fat layer at the treatment area. Results from this procedure can be seen over 2-4 months after the procedure, and multiple treatments may be performed if needed. Candidates for this treatment must have good skin tone, and a doctor must be able to pinch at least 1” of tissue on a pinch test. It is approved for waist circumference reduction, where a typical patient will lose about 1 pant or dress size after the initial Liposonix treatment. Some people report mild soreness or bruising after this procedure. So, if you are considering this treatment prior to a special occasion that will expose that part of your body, it’s recommended that you consider this potential side effect and plan ahead to allow enough time for the bruising to dissipate. Additionally, with results showing within 2-4 months later, good planning is recommended for those who are considering Liposonix for a special event, such as a wedding. Zerona Zerona uses low-level “cold” lasers to disrupt fat cell membranes, increasing their permeability. This causes the fat cells to leak its contents into the interstitial fluid, where the body can burn it up or later re-absorb it. Although the fat cells remain intact, they are decreased in size, leading to a slimmer silhouette. Zerona’s technology is based on photo-stimulation, or laser light stimulation, meaning that no part of the device actually touches the body. The laser diodes hover from above, emitting cold laser light in a circular pattern above your target areas. These lasers trigger receptor sites on the fat cell to open a “pore” where its contents can empty. A treatment lasts about 40 minutes, usually split between 20 minutes facing up and 20 minutes facing down on the treatment table. Zerona’s results are best when 6 treatments are scheduled 2 days apart over 2 weeks. A commitment of 1 month is ideal, combined with some light cardio (such as walking) and a modified diet. Given this, Zerona would work well for someone looking for faster results, and can actively participate in aiding the process to get those results. So, if you have an upcoming event that you don’t have much time to prepare for, but want some contouring done, Zerona may be a good choice. However, it needs to be noted that long-term results are not well reported. A good candidate for Zerona treatments is no more than 30lbs above their ideal body weight. It can be used to treat areas of fat from the neck down to the thighs, though typically it is used on the waist, hips and thighs. There are no notable side effects to be aware of, or to plan around should a special occasion be scheduled in the near future. These are the clear differences to note between Coolsculpting, Liposonix and Zerona:
Coolsculpting specifically targets fat cells just below the skin, but is not designed to target the mid-level layers of fat. It leaves skin and surrounding tissue unaffected, and is not known to firm up skin. This is actually a good thing because you wouldn’t want patches of skin firmer than areas that were not vacuumed into the applicator…would you?
Liposonix’s ultrasonic thermal technology is heat-based, and must travel through the skin and tissue to reach fat cells. This non-selective procedure triggers a tightening of collagen in the skin and tissue to assist in firming up treated areas. Since Liposonix glides over the skin and can cover larger areas, it can smooth out texture in an even way.
Due to the design of Coolsculpting’s vacuum applicator, it is ideal for bulges of fat that you can grab and hold onto.
Liposonix’s gliding applicator combined with a patterned map of the treatment area allows for more control to achieve the desired shape of the your results.
Zerona is based on laser light stimulation, and does not actually touch the body.
Zerona’s results can show up within a month, but requires active participation of a modified diet and light cardio exercise to achieve best results.
Coolsculpting or Liposonix destroys fat cells that are permanently eliminated from the body, while Zerona leaves fat cells intact and does not eliminate them.
Permanent elimination of fat cells means that your body’s genetic shape can be contoured by Coolsculpting or Liposonix treatments.