Some Alternatives to Liposuction

Liposuction used to be the only alternative for people who wanted to get rid of belly fat. Liposuction works, but like all surgical procedures it has its risks.

By: Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D.

For most people, January is a time for good resolutions that will make up for the dietary excesses of the holidays. It’s hard to say no to all those delicious cookies and treats, which is why after New Year’s Day, waistbands seem tighter than they were in November. Going on a diet and getting more exercise are excellent ideas for getting in shape, but why stop there? The latest technologies available at a dermatologist’s office can redefine waists, get rid of love handles, and even tighten sagging bellies.

Liposuction used to be the only alternative for people who wanted to get rid of belly fat.

Liposuction works, but like all surgical procedures it has its risks.  Scars, bruising and numbness are not unusual, and recovery takes several weeks. Two new technologies accomplish much of what liposuction does, but without the risks and downtime.

CoolSculpting, also known as cryolypolisis or fat freezing, is rapidly becoming a popular and mostly pain-free in-office procedure. Patients lie down for one to two hours while a fat freezing device is targeted at specific areas. Most patients feel so little discomfort that they read or watch a movie during the procedure. When it’s done, usually the only sign that the procedure has been carried out is a little redness which soon disappears. Immediately after the procedure, people can go to the theater or to a party.

The amazing thing is that without the patient doing anything else, the frozen fat in the belly and love handles is going to break down and be eliminated through urine. The process is gradual, usually taking four months, but at the end, people have usually lost at least one dress size. The difference is especially dramatic in the waistline. “I’ve got my waist back!” is the constant refrain I hear from patients. Menopausal woman, whose bodies seem to thicken no matter how much exercise and dieting they do, love CoolSculpting.

CoolSculpting has been around for less than two years, but already it has competition from a technology that was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Instead of freezing the fat, Liposonix machines break it down through ultrasound vibration. As with CoolSculpting, the fat is eliminated in the urine over the course of several weeks. Liposonix has been safely used in Canada and Europe for several years. It seems to be both more expensive and more painful than CoolSculpting, but according to patient accounts, the results are seen more quickly, something to consider for people who want to look trimmer for a big event.

Finally, there is Thermage CPT, which uses radio frequency to stimulate collagen production and tighten skin. I can speak with authority on Thermage CPT, because it has become a runaway success in my practice, by far the most popular procedure I perform. Unlike CoolSculpting and Liposomix, which so far is only approved for use on the abdomen, Thermage CPT can be used anywhere on the body or face. It is truly remarkable when it comes to lifting sagging bellies without plastic surgery. Many people use it in conjunction with CoolSculpting, because fat freezing contours the body, while Thermage CPT firms the skin.

Unlike CoolSculpting, Thermage CPT is a painful procedure, and patients do need to take painkillers before having it done. But afterwards there is no pain or swelling, or indeed any sign that it was done. Like CoolSculpting and Liposonix, Thermage CPT’s full benefits do not become apparent for several months. Anybody who wants to look taut and firm on the beach in July should have Thermage, CoolSculpting or Liposonix done in January or February, before the groundhog is dragged out to see his shadow.

© 2011 Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist

About the Author:
Debra Jaliman, MD, author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist, is a board certified dermatologist with a private practice in New York City. Internationally recognized for her research and work in clinical and cosmetic dermatology, Dr. Jaliman has a reputation for using cutting-edge technology and the latest in skin care, as well as for being the “last stop” doctor, the one who fixes what others can’t. She is an assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a member of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery. She is a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology and is regarded as an authority in her field by journalists and cosmetics industry, appearing frequently on television and in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Allure, Glamour, Self, andInStyle.

For more information please visit liposuction, coolsculpting, Dr. Debra Jaliman, M.D and follow the author on Facebook and Twitter.


Photo: Alexander Staubo