The old adage, "If it’s too good to be true, then it must not be true" applies to sooooooo many things in cosmetics. In 2010, consumers around the world spent over 330 billions on cosmetics products and supplies according to Harvard business report. It is a growing industry that is not well regulated. Many of the products advertise are minimally effective or not effective. As consumers we are inundated with a deluge of infomercials on this cream and that scent and how they can improve our appearances and appeals. Most of these products end up tossed in the back of many drawers or in wastebaskets everywhere.
Similarly, the body image and body shape industry suffers from the same disregulation. We are atttracted to the newest technologies and gadgets and are always looking for the next miracle. Science has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last century but we have not yet discovered the fountain of youth, or that gene will allow us to indulge ourselves and not gain a pound, or that machine that will exercise for us while we sit on the couch. These maybe technologies of the future but for the present we still have to fight aging hands and fists, and pay for that piece of cake in sweats and tears.
Basically, we need to be aware and informed consumers. Everything is not what it appears and you can’t just believe what you hear or read at face value. You need to be a bit skeptical. Ask the questions. Do the research. There are so many advertisements out there on how to get rid of body fat. We all want that. We all get drawn into the latest but maybe ignorant to the fact that it may not be the greatest for us.
Let me help you out by summarizing the top 5 technologies on fighting fat out there, comparing the effectiveness, risks, benefits, and costs to the gold standard, traditional, asleep, surgical liposuction. I hope this will help you decide on what is best for you. Note that all these technologies can be applied in the office setting under local anaesthesia.
1. SmartLipo – Laser-assisted tumescent liposuction, minimally invasive procedure is performed in the office using a small laser to heat the skin and melts the fat. This can stimulate collagen production, tighten skin, and break up the fat cells. The volume reduction is similar to traditional liposuction with minimal risks. It is lower in cost than traditional liposuction and is a bit easier to recover from but recovery will depend on the volume of fat removed with relation to the starting fat pockets. The result is smoother due to smaller instruments being used in general, however, results are highly dependent on your physician’s experience and aesthetic talents.
2. CoolLipo – Laser-assited tumescent liposuction, minimally invasive procedure is performed in the office using a small laser to heat the skin and melts the fat. (Deja vu – It is almost exactly the same technology as SmartLipo with a few differences, enough to get its own FDA approval.) The name can be confusing because it is not a cold laser. It is a hot laser and the name is just a marketing tactic; CoolLipo – how "cool" is that. The benefits and risks are ditto to Smartlipo so you can reread above.
3. Tickle Lipo – Tumescent liposuction, minimally invasive procedure performed with a rapidly circling suction cannula. The technology is in the suctioning device. No, it does not literally tickle you but the vibration it creates may be ticklish to some people. There is not a skin tightening benefit that is added aside from the fat removal itself. The reduction of fat can be comparable to the first two methods above. Again, your result will depend on your physician. It should cost less than the laser methods above because it lacks the collagen stimulation and promotion of skin tightening benefit.
4. Body Jet lipo– Water jet assisted liposuction, minimally invasive, liposuction using water jets to assist with the fat extractions. Risks, results, and costs are very comparable to the options above. The fat in this case can be used for grafting. Your final look will again be determined by your physician’s expertise and not the technology.
5. CoolSculpting – Freeze your fat, non-invasive. Multiple treatments are required with this method. Your fat pockets are squeezed between two cooling plates and cooled to a temperature where fat cells can die and will be removed by your own body. The fat reduction is much less than liposuction and the results may not be visible for about 3 months. Because the fat destruction is less, the discomfort is less, and recovery is quicker but this has to be repeated sometimes 3 to 4 times in the same area before reduction can be seen. It can be an option for someone with very small fat pockets who does not want anything invasive, not even a small needle. It does destroy fat, albeit, minimally. Don’t expect wow results from this procedure. You will see subtle reduction over an extended period of time. The cost of this procedure maybe more expensive than laser liposuction after 3-4 treatments for the same area.
6. Zerona – Light therapy, Non-invasive. The “arms” with lights hover over the area of treatment. There is no direct contact with the body and the light will promote destruction of some fat cells. There is no pain and no downtime. Too good to be true? Remember, you don’t get significant fat destruction and improvement without your body protesting this a bit. If it does not hurt a little, then it does not work. There is certainly some fat cells destruction but when you have 50 billion fat cells, destroying 100 cells will not make any difference in your body. The cost for this would be too expensive at any price in my opinion. Let me know if you disagree. I have seen many patients who have been disappointed by this technology. The hype is way bigger than the result.
I hope this gives you a clearer idea of what is out there as you move forward in making a well informed decision for you and your body.