What is Non-Surgical Body Sculpting and How Does It Actually Work?

Achieving your ideal body can be tough. You can spend hours at the gym and eat a healthy diet, but still have trouble with stubborn areas of fat.  You probably wonder how all the celebrities and influencers on social media look so toned in even the most difficult areas.  The answer is body sculpting. Treatments like Emsculpt Neo, CoolSculpting, SculpSure, UltraShape, Vanquish, and Kybella are popular choices to target areas of fat.

All these treatment options have some similarities:

  • They don’t require downtime
  • They are usually quick- 30 to 60 minutes
  • Usually require multiple treatments- generally two to four sessions
  • Full results usually take up to 3 months to be evident (it takes about this long for the body to process and dispose of fat)
  • Minimal pain or discomfort
  • Some of these treatments result in some temporary redness, swelling, bruising, and tenderness 

So, what are the differences among these treatments?

Cold Treatments

CoolSculpting (an Allergan product) is one of the more recognized treatments in fat reduction.  It utilizes temperatures low enough to destroy fat cells but not damage your skin.  The device has multiple applicator sizes that pull a portion of your skin in by suction and then cool it to down to destroy the underlying fat. This procedure can be used on multiple body parts including the chin, arms, abdomen, love handles, and thighs.  It has been found to effectively reduce body fat by 20-25%. One complication of CoolSculpting that is making the news is paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, or more commonly referred to, the “stick of butter” effect.  This complication requires surgical revision with liposuction.

Heat Treatments

SculpSure (a Cynosure product) is one of the more recognized names in heat treatments for fat reduction. It is FDA approved and uses laser energy to damage fat cells.  The heat is safe on the skin and internal organs.  SculpSure has a flat applicator which makes it more challenging to treat curved body areas.  It’s best for treatment of the abdominal area and thighs.

Ultrasound Energy

UltraShape is an example of fat reduction that utilizes ultrasound energy to break down fat.  It’s the most time intensive of these options taking about one hour per session.  Your provider will move the device around manually.  It works great on the abdomen and isn’t meant for other areas.  It is FDA approved.

Radiofrequency Energy

Vanquish is an example of radiofrequency (RF) fat reduction. RF produces wavelengths of energy that create heat and destroy fat cells. You must be well hydrated before an RF procedure as it targets the water in your cells.  

Deoxycholic Acid Injections

Kybella (and Allergan product) is the only FDA approved brand of deoxycholic acid for non-invasive body contouring.  Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring bile in the body that helps break down fat during digestion.  This product is injected into targeted areas once a month for up to six months.  Local anesthesia is required.  The FDA has approved its use for under the chin.

Muscle Stimulation

Emsculpt Neo (a BTL product) is the first and only non-invasive body shaping procedure that provides simultaneous fat elimination and muscle building in a combined 30-minute session.  It works by simultaneously emitting both radiofrequency (RF) and high intensity electromagnetic energies (HIFEM+).  The end result is more fat reduction (on average 30%) and muscle growth (on average 25%) than any other single product.  It also has broad appeal as it can treat patients up to a BMI of 35.  It is FDA approved for treatment of 9 body areas: biceps, triceps, abs, quads, hamstrings, calves, inner thighs, and outer thighs.  There is no pain and no downtime.  Unlike the other devices, Emsculpt Neo has two different hands- free applicators that provide a diffuse and even treatment over the targeted area. It has been studied in over 30 clinical trials.

How much do these treatment options cost?

CoolSculpting– The average cost of CoolSculpting is between $2000 to $4000 per session.  More than one session is generally required.

SculpSure– SculpSure comes in at a slightly lower price than CoolSculpt.  It averages about $1400-$1500 a treatment.

UltraShape– Sessions on average run $1500-$2500.

Vanquish– A package of 4 treatments is approximately $3000.

Kybella– The average cost of each Kybella treatment will range from $1200 to $1800.

Emsculpt Neo– The average cost per session for the Emsculpt Neo is between $850-$1000.

How do you find a good provider?

It’s always crucial to do your homework and choose your aesthetic provider carefully.  A trained physician is your best bet for good results.  Groupon, Living Social, and ad magazines are great for advertising, but these discounted offices might not provide you the best results.  

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