When Flab Won’t Flee There are many options for fighting fat
By Elizabeth Anthony
Though many cultures view fat on the human body as a measure of riches and success, ours is not one of those cultures. Quite the contrary. And ridding the human body of fat is a multi-billion dollar industry.
The choices between diets, diet pills, cleanses and the like are as abundant as the promises attached to the products themselves. Beyond that, we often find that no matter how much we diet and exercise, we still aren’t able to rid ourselves of those pesky pockets of fat around our waistlines, thighs, arms, even faces. Most of us have figured out by now that we can’t control the way that fat is deposited throughout our bodies. Genetics, bad habits and age can nullify good intentions, hours of exercise and healthy eating habits. So, how does one combat the fat that won’t flee? Consider your many choices below.
The most well-known method for fat reduction is liposuction, an invasive treatment by which fat cells are surgically removed. With liposuction, small tubes are inserted into your body to remove fatty material. Liposuction is one of the most widely performed cosmetic surgery procedures, and many people mistakenly think that liposuction will reduce cellulite. Liposuction removes fat, but not from the areas where cellulite lives, which is right under the skin; therefore it does not get rid of cellulite. In fact, since liposuction can leave behind lax skin, cellulite may be more apparent after liposuction than before. This layer of loose skin is a result of a lack of elasticity in the skin from age or “stretching” and can be removed in a follow-up procedure.
Liposuction surgery should only be performed in a medical facility by a licensed, board-certified surgeon and general anesthesia is necessary. Many times patients may experience bruises, swelling and pain afterwards. With the innovation of “tumescent” liposuction, many of these issues have decreased or eliminated. However, despite its potential risks and complications, liposuction remains popular because of long-lasting and often dramatic results. If you have tried diets, exercise, creams, spa wraps and more, and you still don’t have the body you want, you might feel you are a candidate for liposuction.
Several advancements in liposuction treatments have given way to the technology of laser assisted lipolysis—a less invasive, less risky liposuction procedure that provides results with less downtime. Laser liposuction, which is known in dermatology and plastic surgery lingo as “laser-assisted lipolysis” is a new technique for improving body contours. It combines a laser with a cannula, or small tube, to liquefy fat cells and remove them with a very small incision, enabling better results with less downtime and greater flexibility.
Laser liposuction is introduced into the skin through the small cannula, which is only one to two millimeters in diameter. As in conventional liposuction, the surgeon moves the cannula back and forth and the laser transforms fat deposits into an oily substance that is then absorbed and eventually eliminated through the body’s lymphatic system.
Doctors report that patients experience less swelling, bleeding and bruising — mainly because the laser technology immediately closes small blood vessels. No stitches are required, and scarring is minimal. Some results are evident within a week after surgery, and more improvement is seen over several months.
Additionally, treatments are typically performed in short sessions under local anesthesia, enabling the patient to return to normal life more quickly. Compression garments must be worn after the procedure for a short period of time depending on the area treated.
Although it is not a substitute for traditional liposuction, laser liposuction is ideal for treating smaller areas with localized fat deposits — such as the face, neck, arms and breasts — that cannot be reduced through exercise or diet. Laser liposuction is also very effective for treating loose and hanging skin. Those in good health with normal body weight are good candidates for the procedure.
Ultrasonic liposuction, (Ultrasound Assisted Lipoplasty) or Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction (UAL), is a technique where the fatty tissue is removed with the assistance of sound waves which are beyond the range of human hearing. Safety is enhanced with this technique due to the surgeon’s ability to more precisely guide the cannula because the sound waves are doing the work. The ultrasonic energy is targeted to fat cells and creates less damage to other tissues such as nerves, blood vessels and muscles.
Ultrasonic liposuction is especially effective on fat removal from certain areas of the body known as “fibrous areas,” which include the abdomen, back, male chest and hips, though it can also be used in other areas as well. UAL additionally allows for more complete fat removal with less blood loss and less damage to surrounding tissues.
One advantage of ultrasonic liposuction over traditional liposuction is increased skin shrinkage. This is especially important in the abdominal area where loose skin is often present following pregnancy or changes in weight. UAL can facilitate fat removal from areas that have already been treated by liposuction in the past, and many physicians believe that ultrasonic liposuction yields a smoother contour when compared with traditional liposuction. UAL should only be performed by a surgeon who has obtained training in this technique.
If you feel the need for liposuction but aren’t so keen about going under the knife, you may want to consider some of the non-surgical liposuction alternatives. Trying one (or a few) of the many options may give you just the result you are looking for, all with less pain and expense than traditional liposuction.
One popular non-surgical method for getting rid of body fat is endermologie, which reduces the outward appearance of cellulite, as well as localized fat deposits. Through a specific regiment of suction and massage, this non-invasive treatment works to break down subcutaneous fat and works to increase collagen production for a fat reduction, skin tightening effect.
French plastic surgeons developed the techniques used in endermologie, and the process is now patented in the United States as well. Using rollers (which often feel like deep tissue massage) over problem areas, endermologie simultaneously utilizes suction to redistribute the skin and remove dimpling. Typically, patients require anywhere from 14 to 28 sessions of about 45 minutes each to see results, and they must also have monthly treatments afterwards to maintain the smooth skin look.
Endermologie works best on candidates who are between 30 and 45 years of age and who are relatively fit. Those who do not regularly exercise may see only temporary results, and those over 30 pounds overweight may not to benefit from the procedure. Beyond regular exercise, drinking lots of water on the day of procedures will help yield a better result. Many times doctors will ask their patients to drink eight glasses of water prior to the procedure and to maintain this as a daily habit afterwards.
Collagen Injection Therapy
Another type of non-surgical liposuction is collagen injection. Collagen is an enzyme which can destroy fatty tissue and which has been proven to work to get rid of unwanted fat cells when injected into a fatty area. The body will reabsorb the broken-down cells and eliminate them. The injections themselves are almost pain-free, but the burning pain and swelling sets in after a few minutes. This is actually a positive sign that the treatment is working. No dressing or bandage is required, but swelling may last for about 4 days.
After just two weeks, fat loss will be noticed; however, studies indicate three consecutive treatments are recommended. Reports indicate that the fat loss achieved through collagen injection treatments typically does not return, but as with many fat loss programs, new weight gain can build up new fat in the same areas. A balanced diet along with regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle is recommended to optimize and maintain results.
The next treatment should be administered after 6-8 weeks. Most patients need a series of 2-4 treatments, and may require up to six. Sometimes the effect isn’t visible before the third treatment.
Mesotherapy is another common non-surgical procedure for fat loss which involves injecting tiny quantities of natural extracts, homeopathic agents, pharmaceuticals and vitamins into the skin. It is used to eliminate cellulite, promote weight loss, treat aging or sagging skin and to rejuvenate the hands and neck. While liposuction does not treat cellulite, and may cause cellulite to become more prominent, mesotherapy treats cellulite directly, and many patients enjoy smoother skin and reduced fat in selected areas. Fat deposits are flushed from the body and do not reappear in other areas, which sometimes occurs after liposuction. Additionally, mesotherapy does not require hospitalization, general anesthesia or downtime.
Non-surgical fat removal options take between 1-6 sessions, depending on the chosen procedure. They are mostly painless, fast, and easy, and nearly everyone is a candidate. Some boast up to 10 centimeters decrease in circumference. However, it is important to remember that due to the mechanism of action, the results appear gradually over time, rather than the relatively instantaneous changes seen in liposuction.
No matter which method you choose to combat fat, keep in mind that regular exercise and a healthy diet will be the best methods you can employ to keep the fat off your newly sculpted and leaner body.