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Non-Surgical Shaping: Flatten Those Tummy Bulges, Slim Those Thighs and Lose the Double Chin (Kybella)

Over the last several years new techniques and technology, approved by the FDA, have evolved to non-invasively and without surgery thin heavy thighs, flatten belly bulges and melt chin double chins.

Here is a review of available methods used to treat various body areas:

CoolSculptingSlimming the Body Contour

  • CoolSculpting is mainly used for removing fat on the body, love handles, abdomen, bra fat.  The technique works with a suction applicator that freezes fat cells (cryolipolyisis) to break down the cell walls and cause fat cells resorption by the body.  The system uses various shape and size applicators targeted to specific body areas.  Positives include the non-invasive nature of the procedure with permanent results and little to no down-time.  The Negatives include the need for multiple treatment sessions each lasting about an hour, which add to the time and cost.  Patients may be left with a loose, hanging skin envelope when fat is removed and the overlying skin does not tighten. There is a varying amount of discomfort during treatment.
  • UltraShape from Syneron destroys fat cells using focused ultrasound to destroy cell walls. It is FDA-approved for abdominal fat contouring. Positives are its non-invasive nature with permanent results and no down-time. As with other non-invasive methods, the Negatives include that multiple treatments may be needed and the lack of skin tightening. There is a varying amount of discomfort during treatment.
  • SculpSure from Cynosure uses laser technology to heat adipose tissue and disrupt fat cells for elimination by the body. It is FDA approved for use on the abdomen and flanks.  The Positives and Negatives are the same as for the above methods.

Lose the Fat and Tighten the Skin

focused ultrasound to tighten skin and shrink subcutaneous tissuesWhile the above techniques destroy fat, they do not tighten the overlying skin, thus potentially leaving a loose, flabby skin envelope.  The following devices claim to tighten skin, induce collagen formation as well as produce some degree of fat destruction.  They use radiofrequency (RF) technology to gently heat the skin to reduce skin laxity and generate new collagen.  RF can also break up fat cells for fat reduction.

  • ThermiSmooth, Viora, VelaShapeIII (with infrared light), Vanquish all use radiofrequency for skin tightening, collagen synthesis and fat destruction. The Positives include non-invasive technology to tighten and firm skin. The Negatives include need for multiple treatment sessions and varying degrees of pain and discomfort during treatment.
  • Ulthera uses focused ultrasound to tighten skin and shrink subcutaneous tissues. The Positives and Negatives are similar to the above modalities.

Get Rid of That Double-Chin

  • Double-Chin, KybellaKybella by distributed by Allergan, involves serial injections into the chin of a substance, deoxycholic acid, that breaks down fat in the targeted area. Positives are that it is easy to perform and yields permanent results.  Negatives, however, include that multiple treatments (up to six) may be needed, treatments need to be spaced no less than a month apart, and there may be post-injection bruising, tenderness, redness and swelling.
  • CoolSculpting by Zeltiq introduced the small “CoolMini” applicator to add submental fat to CoolSculpting’s treatment areas.  Positives include a non-invasive approach, not involving needles, to tackle the double-chin problem. The Negative include that the applicator must be applied to the fat deposits for 45 minutes, more than one treatment may be necessary, and there is treatment discomfort.

The above are all non-invasive technologies.  These non-invasive techniques should be compared to surgical alternatives.  While not non-invasive, “minimally” invasive liposuction can more precisely target areas of concern and usually requires only one procedure to address problem areas.  The cost, time involved and discomfort are comparable or less than that for non-invasive techniques.  Prior to scheduling and paying for a non-invasive shaping and tightening procedure, it is wise to obtain a consultation with a provider experienced in minimally-invasive liposuction.