It’s February, so we’re going to assume you’re exercising, eating right and doing all you can to be the best “you” you promised to be in the new year. (You’re at least trying, right?) But what if, despite all those crunches and all that kale, you still have parts of your body that are being, well, stubborn? Yup, we’re talking about those love handles, those saddlebags and that belly bulge that’s been hanging around for so long that you’ve started considering names for it. Have no fear, next-gen body shaping is here.
No, we’re not talking about liposuction. There are no knives or incisions, anesthesia or recovery time involved in the newest body-shaping techniques. In fact, we’re not talking surgery at all, but nonsurgical, noninvasive shaping, sculpting and contouring of the bod you got in order to annihilate fat cells and, in the case of one of the newest contraptions, increase muscle mass without endless trips to the gym.
Sure, there are caveats. The treatments are not intended for weight loss, and most work best on clients who are already within about 20 pounds of their ideal weight. And you do need to keep living a healthy lifestyle post-treatment in order to maintain results. That being said, the results we’ve seen are pretty gosh-darn inspiring and most definitely deserve a closer look.
To get you started, we asked Connecticut experts for their take on three of the latest nonsurgical techniques designed to help you rid yourself of the flab you have that is sooo 2018. Take a look and see which might work best for you — and remember to talk over any plans you make with your doctor first. In the meantime: Here’s to a new year and a new you! Everybody smile and say, “Oat milk!”
Catch a wave
What is it? The process is known as ultrasonic cavitation, which uses ultrasound waves to cause fat cells to burst and be expelled from the body.
What areas of the body can it be used on? The entire body, including the face.
How many treatments are needed? Three to six sessions per treatment area are recommended for optimal results.
How much does it cost? An introductory Cavi-Lipo treatment at Caviliposonics in Enfield is $99. Additional treatments cost $200 or less, depending on the package you choose.
Cavi-Lipo, also known as ultrasonic cavitation, utilizes ultrasound waves to cause fat cells to rupture (that’s the cavitation part), emulsify and be eliminated from the body. The process “basically comes down to bubbles,” explains Nancy Melody, owner of Caviliposonics in Enfield. Thousands of teeny-tiny air bubbles (formed by the soundwaves), that shimmy, shake and eventually expand so much that “the walls of the targeted fat cells burst,” says Melody, and the liquefied fat is moved through the lymphatic system to the liver, where it can be safely metabolized and eventually excreted from the body (yes, that means when you use the loo).
Melody had been in the field of medical ultrasound for nearly 40 years when she first heard talk of Cavi-Lipo, which received Food and Drug Administration approval in the U.S. in 2012. “I’m a ‘show me’ kind of person,” Melody says. So she traveled to Boston to see the equipment in action, quickly declared “I’m in,” opened Caviliposonics in September 2013 and has never looked back. To any doubters she says simply, “I wouldn’t still be here if it didn’t work.”
Unlike some other treatments (more on those later), Cavi-Lipo can be used to treat the entire body, including the face. The process, Melody promises, is “completely painless,” and doesn’t require any downtime for recovery, but, she cautions, is not a way to lose weight, but rather inches.
Cavi-Lipo sessions last between 30 to 40 minutes, and a course of three to six sessions per treatment area is recommended for optimal results. “Sessions must be at least three days apart in order for the body to have time to flush everything out,” Melody says. Drinking plenty of water, exercising and avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy carbs for three days following treatment can aid in the process.
So what kind of results can one expect from “Rosie”? (Caviliposonics’ machine is named after the robot in The Jetsons.) The biggest loss Melody has witnessed is a whopping 13½ inches, but “typical” results for the abdomen, for example, are between a half-inch and 2½ inches per treatment.
One bit of advice: “Cavi-Lipo” is the brand name of a machine used to perform ultrasonic cavitation, but the name is often erroneously used to reference different brands. Not all ultrasonic cavitation machines, however, are created equal. “In order for cavitation to occur, sound waves must be between 20 and 30 kilohertz [kHz],” Melody says. (Cavi-Lipo machines operate at 25 kHz.) “Anything over 30 kHz [and there are those machines out there] is not going to be strong enough to cause cavitation.” Always ask!
Ice, ice baby
What is it? A patented process known as cryolipolysis freezes fat cells, which are then absorbed and naturally shed by the body.
What areas of the body can it be used on? Flanks, abdomen, thighs, “double” chins, back, underneath the buttocks, upper arms and below the jawline.
How many treatments are needed? A single session can reduce fat in the treated area by 25 percent.
How much does it cost? CoolSculpting at Esana Plastic Surgery Center & MedSpa in New Haven and Guilford ranges from $750 to $1,200 per area.
CoolSculpting uses a patented process known as cryolipolysis to freeze fat cells, which are then absorbed and naturally shed by the body — a process that started, if you can believe it, with a popsicle.
Once upon a time at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, dermatologists Dieter Manstein and R. Rox Anderson observed that infants and young children who ate popsicles sometimes developed what is known as “popsicle panniculitis,” an inflammation of the tissue in their cheeks (we swear, it’s a thing!). In some cases, excessive ice-pop exposure even led to dimples, which the pair theorized was the result of the treats freezing and eliminating pockets of fat in the kiddos’ chubby little cheeks — lightbulb!
CoolSculpting was first approved by the FDA in 2010 to treat clunky love handles. In 2012, treatment was cleared for the abdomen, followed in successive years by treatments for thighs, “double” chins, back, underneath the buttocks (kind of brings new meaning to the phrase “freezing your butt off?” doesn’t it?), the upper arms and, in 2018, below the jawline.
Esana Plastic Surgery Center & MedSpa in New Haven and Guilford began offering CoolSculpting in 2013 and “have seen it become more widespread with each passing year,” Dr. Javier Davila says. “People are much more accepting of the concept, and even if they haven’t had a treatment themselves they know someone who has had it done — and seen results.”
Procedures generally take between 35 and 45 minutes of “machine time,” Davila says. You should expect to feel intense cold initially, which usually subsides within 5 to 10 minutes as the area numbs, some pulling or tugging as fatty tissue is drawn into an applicator cup to be treated, and you may also feel what Davila describes as a “burning sensation” when frosty tissues are rewarmed via a vigorous five-minute massage. Fun fact: the lipids in fat cells crystallize at warmer temps than the water in other types of cells, thus ensuring no permanent damage is done to the skin, nerves or any other tissues. Temporary side effects include redness, swelling, bruising and tingling.
And now the news you’ve been waiting for: “You can expect the fat in the treated area to be reduced by about 25 percent,” Davila says — but you do need to be patient. Results can begin to show as soon as three weeks following treatment, but the most dramatic results take two to three months.
Want the very latest in body shaping? Emsculpt, deemed one of the top emerging trends of 2018 by medical-aesthetic treatment hub realself.com, is it.
What is it? Electromagnetic energy induces 20,000 muscle contractions in a 30-minute session, both creating new muscle mass and destroying fat cells.
What areas of the body can it be used on? Abdomen and buttocks. (Calves, biceps and triceps are expected next.)
How many treatments are needed? Four 30-minute sessions over a two-week period are recommended, with the best results seen at the three-month mark.
How much does it cost? The average cost of an Emsculpt procedure at Greenwich Dermatology is $3,000 for four treatments. A maintenance treatment recommended every three to six months runs between $450 to $750.
“[Emsculpt] is truly a revolution in body sculpting,” says Dr. Henry Gasiorowski of Greenwich Dermatology, one of the first practices in the country to begin offering the procedure in July 2018. “It’s the world’s only procedure to simultaneously build muscle and destroy fat,” explains Gasiorowski, which it does via High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic (HIFEM®) technology that induces “supramaximal muscle contractions not achievable through voluntary contractions.” But let’s put it this way: how many sit-ups or squats do you get in during a trip to the gym? Twenty, 50, perhaps 100 on a really good day? The supramaximal contractions during a 30-minute session of Emsculpt are equivalent to 20,000 sit-ups or squats.
When exposed to these mama-of-all-contractions, the muscle tissue is forced to adapt, and responds by “remodeling” its inner structure, which leads to new muscle mass as well as enhanced fat metabolism through the destruction of fat cells.
Emsculpt has been cleared by the FDA for use on both abs and glutes (or, if you want to get specific, “improvement of abdominal tone, strengthening of the abdominal muscles, development of firmer abdomen, [and] strengthening, toning, firming of the buttocks”), but word around the office, Gasiorowski says, is that technology to treat calves, biceps and triceps is in the works.
So … does it hurt? “You don’t feel any pain,” Gasiorowski says, “but it’s definitely an odd sensation.” (We’ve got to say that “odd” doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off when considering that you get to lie down as you intensely “work out” — especially when clinical studies report an average 19 percent reduction in fat, a 1½-inch average loss in waistline circumference and a 16 percent increase in muscle mass.) Afterward, the treated area might be mildly sore, similar to what you feel after a strength-training workout, and the soreness could last for a day or two, according to practitioners.
Four 30-minute sessions over a two-week period are recommended, with the best results seen at the three-month mark and continued improvement possible for up to six months following treatment. Again, patience is key.