Stopping short of liposuction, here are seven non-invasive, high-tech treatments that promise to shift fat from problem areas to reveal a svelte new you … and us! We reviewed three of them.
For various reasons, it’s virtually impossible to be as slim as the model whose gaunt frame taunts us from the page of a fashion or beauty magazine. One, she’s a six-foot 14-year-old who’s going through a growth spurt; two, she lives on cigarettes and champagne; or three, her curves have been digitally reduced, so even she’s not that skinny.
That said, we all want our bodies to look good, both in clothes and out of them. Though we’re stuck with our height and our basic body shape, most of us do have a degree of control over how much fat we carry; and that’s where lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise come in. We don’t, however, have much control over where our fatty tissue will tend to congregate.
Almost everyone has at least one such hated body part. For some, it’s fat thighs, a wobbly bottom or flapping underarms; for me, it’s my tummy. Remember that recent and horrible trend for exposing your stomach in jeans that barely skimmed the pubic mound? Thank goodness for everyone that I was well past the age of being a slave to fashion when that came along.
Though I believe whole-heartedly in the importance of eating right and getting your butt off the sofa, that’s not what this article is about. Instead, it’s about the range of exciting new technologies that promise to home in on the precise area that gives us grief.
It remains a sad truth that no diet or exercise can be targeted to remove the fat in a specific locality. Those thousands of crunches will strengthen your abdominals, for example, but the beautiful six-pack you may have developed will remain hidden under the fat you’re genetically predisposed to store there.
I first heard of liposuction in the early 80s, when the 20-something cousin of a friend of mine (let’s call her Roxanne) had it done. She’d always been pretty, plump and self-indulgent; and sure, she looked a lot trimmer afterwards. But it didn’t last. A couple of years and rather a lot of cake later, she was even larger than she’d been before.
As Roxanne’s story shows, however, spot fat reduction is not a get-out-of-jail-free card. The likeliest candidates are those who are not overweight, but instead have pockets of fat – such as belly rolls, muffin tops, saddlebags and arm dewlaps – that are resistant to a proper diet and exercise. And almost without exception, all the doctors and therapists we talked to stressed that the success of the particular treatment they recommend depends on the patient’s following a sensible diet and exercise regimen.
“FDAA-approved i-Lipo is the intelligent, non-surgical alternative to liposuction,” says Marianne Doele of The Body Firm. Rather than removing fat cells through surgical liposuction – which is invasive, costly, painful and potentially risky – lipo-laser aims to simply shrink the fat cells in your body. Within a relatively short period of time, and without any pain, you will experience fat reduction and achieve a slimmer, tighter shape all over.
During the procedure, about 500 calories worth of fat is released into your body from the specific areas treated – that’s equal to a large bar of chocolate or a family-sized bag of crisps!
Usually, one area is treated at a time: the stomach, thighs, buttocks, arms or any other area can be targeted. Eight 20-minute sessions are generally recommended – two treatments a week for four weeks – but the number of treatments will be determined during your consultation on the basis of your own goals, as will the length of your post-treatment exercise sessions. Treatments are comfortable and relaxing, says Marianne – just a slight warmth where the treatment pads are in contact with your skin.
Often, results can be seen immediately. Over the course of eight sessions, she says, you can achieve a dramatic and long-lasting reshaping of the body – completely safely and with no side effects.
Techy Stuff: How does i-Lipo work?
Cold laser energy, released through treatment pads, penetrates a few millimetres beneath your skin to target subcutaneous fat cells. There it triggers a chemical signal that breaks down stored triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol, which are released through the cell membrane and transported around the body to be burned off during a period of post-treatment exercise.
Cost : Expat Living readers can take advantage of a very special offer: just $59 (UP $250) for a first-time trial.
The Body Firm is at #04-20 Delphi Orchard, 402 Orchard Road. 6838 0331 | thebodyfirm.com.sg
Dr Valentin Low swears by the power of ultrasound to keep his slim, svelte clientele that way. As he rightly points out, people come in all different shapes and sizes. Every body type has areas that are predisposed to fat storage and, even with rigorous diet and exercise, these unwanted bulges often persist. Ultrasonic lipolysis is a non-invasive procedure with no surgical risks and can be successfully performed on arms, hips, abdomens, backs, inner thighs, outer thighs, and more.
As a body-sculpting procedure for both men and women, Dr Low likes the way it results in smooth, predictable contours and skin that is tighter and more toned, without any downtime – you can return to your normal activities straight afterwards. He generally recommends a series of from six to 10 sessions. Results can usually be seen after two or three sessions; sometimes immediately.
Techy Stuff: How does ultrasonic lipolysis work?
It uses specific multi-frequency waves to deliver a heating effect that selectively destroys fat cells and triglycerides, rupturing the fatty component of the tissue matrix while preserving the surrounding area. The disrupted fat is then naturally excreted after being processed by the metabolic system. The dedicated software operates on variable levels of low frequencies in order to reach the resonant effect for a mechanical action known as “dynamic cavitation”, which helps to break down the adipose membranes. At the same time, the surface of the skin is protected with “skin contact cooling” technology.
Cost : From $800 per session. Dr Valentin Low Aesthetic & Laser Clinic is at #08-03 Paragon Medical Suites, 290 Orchard Road. 6720 3323 | iplskinclub.com
MAXIMUS TRILIPO MED
Dr Christopher Ng recommends Maximus TriLipo MED, a combination of three advanced technologies: TriLipo RF, TriLipo Dynamic Muscle Activation (DMA) and TriFractional RF. It can be used to treat the face, the arms, the abdomen, the buttocks and the thighs, promising fat reduction, facial and body sculpting, cellulite and stretch mark reduction.
Patients can return to their daily routine immediately afterwards, says Dr Ng. The treatment is suited to both men and women, and particularly effective in helping postnatal women regain their figures.
How does it work?
Firstly, TriLipo RF uses focused radiofrequency energy to heat the subcutaneous fat tissue layer. The thermal effect accelerates natural fat metabolism and forces the release of liquid fat from fat cells into the extra-cellular matrix. The applicator accelerates drainage of the released liquid fat by applying external pressure on the fat cell layer. On the dermis layer, it heats up collagen fibres, causing them to contract and the skin to immediately become tighter and smoother. In parallel, the heating effect accelerates the metabolism of the fibroblasts, which augments collagen regeneration for long-term skin-tightening results.
Secondly, DMA pulses are targeted at the muscle layer, causing the muscles to contract. This elevates the underlying muscles and pushes the fat cells up towards the surface. The mechanical pressure of the applicator from above also presses on the fat cells, inducing liquid fat drainage.
Third, TriFractional RF energy creates microscopic columns of tiny wounds in the epidermis and dermis to stimulate the body’s natural healing response mechanism. After treatment, the untreated zones function as healing centres, leading to smoother and tighter-looking skin.
GynaeMD Women’s & Rejuvenation Clinic is at #04-03A Camden Medical Centre,
1 Orchard Boulevard. 6733 8810 | gynaemd.com.sg
EL’s Amy Reviews: TRIPOLLAR RADIOFREQUENCY
Cutis is conveniently located in a fairly quiet mall that offers a sense of privacy.
During the initial consultation, Dr Sylvia Ramirez tells me the TriLipo Radiofrequency (RF) treatment can be used on any part of the body. It’s most popular for fatty abdomens, thighs and buttocks, and for facial jowls; thankfully, she says I don’t have this problem. I opt for the abdomen area and my love handles, basically the bits of my body my youngest daughter likes to poke and say “wobbly jelly”.
How it Works:
TriLipo is an all-in-one, non-invasive treatment aimed at tightening the skin, treating cellulite, reducing circumference and lifting the face and body. The “tri” part of the name is derived from the fact it works concurrently on the dermis, hypodermis (fat) and muscle layers for triple-action fat reduction. By heating the skin tissue, it causes collagen to contract, resulting in immediate skin tightening and improvement in tone.
Senior Clinic Assistant, Fan, is my friendly therapist for the session. She applies glycerin to the target areas and starts up the RF device. It warms up quickly, and as she rolls it over the treatment areas I can feel a definite electrical pull that takes a little time to get used to. It’s not painful at all, but I don’t think I could sleep through the treatment, although Fan tells me some clients do nod off.
Dr Ramirez recommends a minimum of three sessions to really see a difference, and if you book eight sessions you get two of them for free. She also advises combining the sessions with her Weight Management Formula, which consists of supplements for health and weight-loss.
It includes her Super CLA Blend with Sesame Lignans; CLA, found primarily in meat and dairy products, supports the immune and cardiovascular systems, proper blood sugar maintenance, lipid profiles and body composition. The Optimized Irvingia with Phase 3™ Calorie Control Complex supplements, she explains, provides a combination of natural compounds that combat age-related fat accumulation.
Need to Know:
It’s best not to eat a large meal directly before your appointment, but other than that you can book yourself in as you like, and carry on as normal straight after the session.
Fan took waist and hip measurements before and after the treatment, and noted a 2.5cm reduction in the circumference of my waist, and a 2cm reduction across my hips. The next day I felt a dull ache in my stomach, as you’d feel after a heavy session in the gym.
Cost: The treatment has been replaced with BTL Exilis Ultra, a slimming and anti-ageing treatment that tightens the skin, treats cellulite, and lifts the face and body. It combines radiofrequency and ultrasound energies to stimulate collagen and target fat cells underneath the skin. Try it at a trial price of $200 for one session at Cutis Medical Laser Clinics! The clinic is located at 9 Scotts Road #08-07 Pacific Plaza 228210 Singapore. 6801 4000 | cutislaserclinics.com
FACIAL SHAPING WITH FILLERS AND BOTOX
According to plastic surgeon Dr Wong Chin Ho, who specialises in advanced face-lifts, facial contouring and shaping can also be achieved effectively and safely with fillers and Botox – and with no downtime.
Two groups can benefit: Firstly, young patients with congenital weakness of the skeleton or enlarged jaw muscles. Fillers can be used to augment flat or sunken mid-cheeks, foreheads or brows, and this contouring subtly but profoundly enhances the aesthetics of the face. A congenitally enlarged, square jaw can be treated by injecting Botox into the muscle and the salivary glands to re-shape the face, also giving the visual impression of significant weight loss with slimming of the lower face.
Secondly, for older patients who have lost facial volume (fat) with age, fillers are used to restore the contours of youth. Areas treated in this way include the forehead, the temples, the mid-cheek, the chin and the jaw line. Persistent or habitual contraction of facial muscles may result in bands and laxity, especially in the lower neck. For this, Botox injected into the superficial neck muscle, the platysma, will relax and lift the neck, giving a smoother and shapelier neck and jaw line.
Anti-bruising and anti-swelling medications may be used to speed up recovery, which takes a day or two.
Cost : Botox starts from $500 per area; fillers start from $800.
Verne Reviews: COOLSCULPTING (or Cryolipolysis)
The reason I’ve been wanting to try this fat-busting technology is that – unlike many others that aim merely to shrink your fat cells, meaning the cells could easily fill up again with triglycerides the very next time I do a crispy pork belly roast – cryolipolyis vows to freeze them to death and kill them off forever. That’s worth a go!
The warm and friendly Dr Charlotte Yung is overseeing my treatment at The Chelsea Clinic’s China Square Central branch. CoolSculpting is also available at nearly 30 different clinics in Singapore; for the full list, go to www.coolsculpting.com.
For me, there’s only ever one – an intransigent lower-belly roll that’s been there forever. After assistant Clara has weighed me on a machine that also assesses bodily fat content (no, you don’t want to know), and photographed me in a nifty pair of blue disposable shorts, Dr Yung “marks up” the target area with a black pen; this is to show where to attach the applicator. Fortunately, there’s an applicator size especially for this area; other shapes and sizes are available for love handles, back fat, thighs and arms.
How it Feels:
Completely unlike anything I’ve experienced before! I’m comfortably seated in a reclining chair. Now, Charlotte and assistant Clara cover the treatment area with a cool, gel-soaked “membrane” that does the important job of protecting the skin, nerves and blood vessels from the intense cold that’s about to be applied; only fat cells will receive the effect.
As they place the applicator over my lower belly, I gasp as it sucks the entire roll of fat between its two rectangular plates and grips on tight. The cooling technology is switched on and the timer set to 60 minutes. Help! But the feeling is more weird than painful. After 10 to 15 minutes, freezing cold delivered by the applicator’s plates has numbed the area; what’s more, I’ve got used to the gripping sensation. I’m ready to check my email.
They’ve warned me it’s not a pretty sight, so I’m not too alarmed at the end when the applicator is removed to reveal a long, frozen sausage below the belly button. A few minutes of gentle massage later, it’s more or less thawed – if a little swollen and pink.
Need to Know:
For the next week, it’s a bit swollen and tender, but the oedema is not enough to stop me going for a jog the very next day. All soreness should disappear after two weeks or so.
Scientific testing has shown that each session of CoolSculpting reduces fat in the treated area by an average of 20 per cent. First results can be seen after two weeks, and Dr Yung thinks I should see a good result as I’m in reasonable shape and the excess fat is fairly localised. The full result of the treatment becomes evident at the end of two months, once the body has naturally eliminated all the dead fat cells. The question is, would I do it again? The answer is yes.
Cost : From $1,000. For clinic listings, either call NeoAsia at 6552 7787 or go to www.coolsculpting.com.
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