Body contouring for fat reduction not only has the obvious stated benefits of shedding fat, but can result in rejuvenated and smoother-looking skin.

As we get older, the amount of fat in our body changes. While some of these changes can be due to a loss of fat – such as a hollowing out under the eyes – most take the form of increased fat deposits. This can have a significant impact on our health and appearance.

Some of the facial areas commonly subject to fat accumulation as we age include:

  • The brow
  • The lower jaw
  • Under the chin
  • The neck

Elsewhere, fatty deposits can squeeze up into the connective tissue layers of the skin, giving skin an uneven texture. We call this cellulite, and it is common on the thighs and bottom.

Diet and exercise are vital not only in the fight to reduce fatty deposits in the skin, but also for overall health. However, as we get older, changes in our body chemistry make shifting fat much harder than when we were young.

This is where body contouring for fat reduction comes in. In the past, liposuction surgery was the only option, but now other non-surgical treatments are available to reduce fat levels in the skin and sculpt the body in the process. This results in rejuvenated and smoother-looking skin.

The three main cosmetic treatments are:

Each works in essentially the same way: by breaking up and dispersing fat cells so the body can remove or absorb them. They do so, however, by using different means, respectively:

  • Cold temperatures
  • Radio waves
  • Sound waves


Experts believe fat is slightly more sensitive to the cold than skin.

So if you apply exactly the right amount of cold temperature to freeze the fat, but not kill the skin above it (which is what occurs in frostbite), only the fat will disperse.

As you can no doubt imagine, this is a delicate business and expert practitioners should be the only ones who perform the procedure.


Those undergoing cryosculpting for fat reduction should refrain from taking aspirin or any other blood thinning medication for two weeks prior to the procedure to help reduce any risks of bruising.

They should also avoid applying make-up or perfume to the target area on the day.

The cryosculpting procedure is performed while you’re lying down, and a cup with a strong vacuum mechanism attached is placed onto skin that has been thoroughly cleaned.

This vacuum sucks the skin (and its underlying fat) into the cup. The cup is then chilled to a specific temperature for 30–60 minutes to break up the fat cells.

Cryotherapy is a gentle procedure, with many simply feeling a cold sensation.

For the best possible results, you can expect to return for several treatments, as the effects are incremental in nature.


You may experience transient discomfort during and immediately after the procedure.

If the treated area of skin is exposed to very cold temperatures, sometimes you’ll experience bruising and/or swelling when blood returns to the treated area as it warms up.

Practitioners recommend patients drink plenty of water for 24 hours after the procedure; this helps the body eliminate fat that has broken up.

Following a healthy diet and exercise routine can also help you achieve the best possible results.


Cryotherapy can sometimes affect the pigmentation of the area being treated.

The pigment producing cells – called melanocytes – are particularly sensitive to the cold, even in low doses. When melanocytes are gone, colour is lost permanently.

This is not a problem for fair skinned women, but it does mean dark skinned women should generally avoid cryotherapy. Dark skinned women are also more prone to the opposite problem, where cryotherapy can transiently cause increased pigmentation of the treated area lasting for up to several months.

The procedure can also result in permanent hair loss on the treated area.


Radio waves can also be used to break down fat cells under the skin.

The waves heat the cells, causing them to vibrate and break up, allowing the body to reabsorb them.

The radio waves are calibrated so they zero in on fat cells, identifying them through their water content, leaving healthy skin cells undamaged. They also stimulate blood flow, which promotes healing and creates a healthier skin tone.


Similar to cryosculpting, you should avoid taking aspirin or any other blood thinning medication for two weeks prior to the procedure to help reduce the risk of bruising.

You should also refrain from wearing perfume or cologne on the day of treatment.

Practitioners will thoroughly wash the target area before the procedure, which will take place when you’re lying down. They then use a wand with radio waves and pass it over the skin several times, about an inch above it.

Typically, to break down fat cells the device emits two types of radio waves to work in combination:

  • Unipolar
  • Bipolar

The only sensation you might feel is a slight tingling on the target area.

The effects of radiofrequency for fat reduction are incremental, so a series of treatments – usually six at bi-weekly intervals is required to attain the best results.

Due to increased blood flow during treatment, if you have had issues with blood clots or any other type of blood disorder, you should avoid the procedure. You should also avoid radiofrequency treatments of any type if you have a pacemaker or other metal implants, or braces.


The recovery time is very short for radiofrequency treatments, and you can go about your daily life unimpeded.

You may notice slight swelling in the first 24 hours or so afterwards, and a warm sensation on the skin in the treated area. This is normal and should disappear within the first day, if not the first few hours after the procedure.

If it helps, you can place an ice pack over the area to reduce the heat, or apply a topical cooling cream.

You should drink plenty of water following the treatment to help the body eliminate the waste created by the procedure. And, of course, following a healthy diet and exercise routine can help you receive the best possible results.


Ultrasound is a sound wave emitted at very high frequencies. When delivered at a specific energy and depth, the waves selectively vibrate fat cells, causing them to heat up. This heat actually makes the fat cells break down, and turns them into a liquid the body can reabsorb.


You don’t need to prepare for an ultrasound body contouring session.

Typically, you will lie down for the treatment and a practitioner will apply a thin layer of gel to the relevant area of skin. They will use two paddles, held a few inches above the skin, and move them one after the other over the area.

The paddles have different, complementary, functions:

  • Paddle 1 – massages the lymph system near where the target fat cells are
  • Paddle 2 – emits sound waves to break up fat cells
  • Paddle 1 – directs the liquid fat to the lymph nodes, which absorb it into the body

This application of sound waves is sometimes known as VASER, which stands for:

  • V – Vibration
  • A – Amplification
  • S – Sound
  • E – Energy
  • R – Resonance

While usually painless, with a slightly warming feeling, the procedure may result in slight discomfort.

If the treatment is on an area of the body near a large bone, such as the thigh, you might briefly feel intense heat as the paddles pass close to the bone.

This is because the ultrasound waves bounce back when they hit the bone, generating extra heat. Let the practitioner know if you feel such a sensation.

Typically, the procedure lasts between half an hour and two hours, depending on the treatment area.

The results of ultrasound for fat reduction are incremental; you will see a little change with each treatment, and will need between eight and 10 to see optimal results. You will, however, see some improvements after the first two or three sessions.

Practitioners recommend you have treatments at two-week intervals to give the body time to heal and flush out all of the broken-down fat cells before the subsequent session.


As with the other procedures, you should drink plenty of water afterwards to help the body eliminate waste the process creates, as well as follow a healthy diet and exercise routine to achieve the best results.


As it is a non-invasive technique, you will have minimal side effects with this procedure.

You might experience some inflammation or redness for a few hours after treatment, but that will dissipate quickly.



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