You’ve been exercising, eating well, watching your weight go down, but for some reason there are areas of your body that refuse to respond. Maybe it’s a persistent pooch of the belly, maybe a spare tire, or even smaller resistant areas such as rolls below the bra line or inner thigh. These areas of unwanted, stubborn fat are a common concern for many cosmetic surgery patients, both in the San Francisco Bay Area where I practice and beyond. Despite your diet and exercise efforts, localized fat can be difficult to get rid of permanently. Could SculpSure be the answer that’s right for you?
Editor’s Note: Dr. Mitchell Blum is a highly experienced expert facial plastic surgeon in California’s San Francisco East Bay area. Board certified in both Facial Plastic Surgery as well as Head and Neck Surgery, he has performed more than 7,000 facial plastic surgery procedures in his career.
Liposuction has been one of the most popular and top performed cosmetic procedures for many years, with good reason. This surgical procedure safely, effectively, and permanently reduces fat and refines the body contour.
In recent years, nonsurgical or minimally invasive alternatives to liposuction have been gaining popularity. These body contouring treatments typically do not require an incision or anesthesia, and they often come with less downtime.
Read on to learn the difference between the two fat reduction approaches and discover which one might be right for you.
Liposuction is a surgical fat removal procedure that first became popular in the 1980s. During the procedure, a board certified cosmetic surgeon carefully and precisely removes excess fat through a small, hollow tube called a cannula. Suction is applied as the surgeon moves the cannula through the fat deposit, removing excess fat cells and sculpting a slimmer body contour.
Liposuction is particularly effective at removing fat in the legs, belly fat, love handles, the spare tire and other fat deposits in the abdomen, back, arms, face, and neck. It provides more dramatic results than other noninvasive fat reduction procedures, however, it has a longer recovery period (up to six weeks) and typically costs more than its nonsurgical counterparts.
Nonsurgical fat reduction treatments use different modalities to target and eliminate unwanted fat cells through a topical, rather than surgical, procedure. Popular nonsurgical body contouring treatments include Cool Sculpting and SculpSure. Both are FDA approved for non-invasive fat reduction
SculpSure is based on controlled hyperthermic or temperature injury to fat cells. Heating the fat cells to target temperatures causes injury. Then the body’s immune system steps in to clear the body of those cells and the treated area shrinks.
The basis of treatment is similar to that of CoolSculpting. But while the CoolSculpting device uses cold to injure fat cells, SculpSure uses heat.
In the original SculpSure experiments, Dr. Decorato and colleagues performed studies on abdominoplasty specimens. From this point, they directly compared CoolSculpting and SculpSure. They found one flank treatment with the new hyperthermic laser treatment was equivalent to one flank treatment with the CoolSculpting device.
But that’s where similarities seem to end. The ideal length of time for each SculpSure treatment is 25 minutes. That is less than half of the recommended 60-minute cycle for CoolSculpting, according to Lawrence Bass, M.D., a plastic surgeon in New York City and lead investigator in one of two FDA studies for SculpSure.
Dr. Bass, who has done more than 100 SculpSure cases in various clinical studies for Cynosure, says SculpSure works by passing 1060-nm diode laser light through the skin to achieve target temperatures of 42 to 47 degrees Celsius.
So, [it’s] not a coagulation temperature. [It is] a temperature that shocks the fat cells, and they die over a few weeks. It’s an apoptosis mechanism,” Dr. Bass says. “At the same time that the fat is being heated, the skin is being chilled by the applicator head. So, this is something that can treat all skin types because there’s no reaction in the skin. Whether you’re fair or very dark skinned, the skin remains unaffected.
CoolSculpting is performed by pulling, sucking and cooling fat between two plates. With the SculpSure device, there is no suction; there is no pulling of the tissue. The device lays flat on top of the tissue, while energy penetrates into the tissue and causes thermal injury to fat cells, according to Dr. Decorato.
Versatility is another benefit of using SculpSure, according to Dr. Bass.
With SculpSure’s four separate applicator heads, I can treat multiple areas at once. Or I can adjust the pattern or arrangement of how I place the four heads, depending on where the patient needs it,” Dr. Bass says. “With CoolSculpting, you’re limited by the applicator shape and size. And if the patient is very young and very tight, and they don’t suck into the applicator, you can’t really go after their fat at all.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both liposuction and nonsurgical body contouring.
Liposuction is a more aggressive method of fat reduction and creates a trauma in the treatment area. Patients will experience soreness, bruising, and swelling for up to 10 days after the procedure. CoolSculpting and SculpSure treatments are typically gentle with minimal discomfort, both during and after treatment.
Liposuction results are visible after the swelling goes down and the treated area heals, although the final result is not seen for 6 months. It takes longer to see results from SculpSure and other noninvasive fat reduction treatments, which become increasingly noticeable in the weeks and months following the procedure. While neither liposuction or nonsurgical body contouring treatments are a replacement for weight loss, liposuction does offer more dramatic and longer-lasting results, in addition to some skin shrinkage.
The healing process after liposuction requires patients to restrict everyday activities for several days after the procedure and to use caution when restarting exercise. SculpSure does not require an extended healing period and patients can return to normal activities immediately, though slight soreness and swelling are to be expected. Though your results will be less noticeable with nonsurgical fat reduction, you will be able to return to work and get back to your life much sooner.
Liposuction may be an excellent option for reducing larger deposits of excess fat. It can significantly improve your figure in several areas at once. Some negatives include a higher cost and greater risk for health complications than noninvasive techniques.
Nonsurgical fat reduction may be a better fit if you are already at your ideal weight, have good skin elasticity, and want to target smaller, stubborn trouble spots. However, the results will not be as dramatic and multiple treatments may be necessary.
So, when diet and exercise aren’t enough to reduce or eliminate stubborn belly fat, love handles or a persistent spare tire you have several alternatives to choose from. Liposuction, Cool Sculpting and SculpSure can all provide good results. If you want to minimize pain, length of treatment sessions, and downtime, SculpSure is an excellent treatment to consider. I provide this service to patients in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Please share this article using the links below: