All of us have areas on our bodies that just don't quite live up to our hopes and desires. We each store fat differently, and some studies have shown that genetic makeup helps determine how each person's weight is distributed. In other words, you may want to thank your mother for those lumpy hips or the stubborn love handles that don't want to let go.
Diet and exercise do help, but sometimes, they're just not enough. For some, surgery like liposuction or tummy tuck is the solution, but others may wonder if non-surgical options will do the trick. If you're looking at fat-reduction treatments, learn which body parts yield the best results.
Who Can Benefit From Fat Reduction Treatments?
Not everyone wants to go under the knife for a couple of extra inches around the midsection, but that doesn't mean you don't want to look your best. When it comes to fat reduction, there are a number of non-surgical treatment options available, but depending on the treatment, it may be most appropriate for a specific area of the body.
"Non-surgical fat reduction techniques are not for the severely overweight. They really work best for those with exercise-resistant problem areas," says Cameron Rokhsar, MD, a physician at New York Cosmetic Skin & Laser Surgery Center and an assistant clinical professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Choosing the Right Fat-Reduction Treatment Method
Not all non-invasive fat reduction treatment methods are the same, and no one particular method is right for every patient. In his experience, Dr. Rokhsar has discovered that cryolipolysis techniques such as CoolSculpting, a contouring treatment by Zeltiq that freezes the fat so that it can be naturally eliminated from the body, works best on patients who are carrying a few extra pounds. "When the patient is heavier, I prefer CoolSculpting," he says.
The non-surgical Zeltiq CoolSculpting treatment works by sucking the fat into a hand piece between two cooling plates. The plates then cool the fat bulge to a temperature cold enough to destroy the fat cells. The process takes approximately one hour.
Rokhsar says the upper and lower abdomen and waist areas are some of the best body parts for this particular fat-reduction treatment. CoolSculpting may also work on the arms, if there's enough fat to fit between the plates.
Information available on the CoolSculpting website describes the ideal candidate as someone within 20 to 30 pounds of their ideal body weight who is maintaining or losing weight.
Ultrasound fat-reduction treatment methods, like Liposonix, work by moving a treatment head across the area of fat. The device emits a high-intensity ultrasound energy that targets the fat and destroys it. "Liposonix reaches 2 cm below the surface area, so you have to be able to pinch an inch of fat to use it," says Houston plastic surgeon, James Boynton, MD, of Boynton Plastic Surgery.
Liposonix works well on the inner thighs, areas of the outer thighs where saddlebags form and the abdomen, according to Dr. Boynton. And the treatment may also offer an additional benefit. "Heat causes collagen to denature and reform," explains Boynton, "so for that reason, you may see a little shrinkage, or tightening, of the skin."
Areas Where Fat-Reduction Treatments Shouldn't Be Used
The face and other areas where the nerves are close to the surface are not the best body parts for fat reduction treatments. Areas that lack enough fat to be properly treated should also be avoided.
Researching treatment options and consulting with a qualified, experienced physician is the best way to ensure you choose the most effective fat-reduction treatment.