Losing weight is a chore; it requires dedication, commitment, and sacrifice. And even with a drastic change in diet and a regular exercise regimen, there are areas that are just extremely stubborn and difficult to tone. But a new wave of non-surgical techniques to remove fat have been catching on nationally. We’ll examine two of them here: CoolSculpting and Emsculpting. Neither are meant to be implemented instead of diet or exercise, but they can be very effective supplements for those difficult areas.
CoolSculpting, known in medical terms as cryolipolysis, is an FDA-approved procedure that essentially freezes fat cells in certain parts of the body. A hose with cooling plates is attached to the desired region and left in place for a variable amount of time. Ultimately the fat cells will be destroyed. The body then processes the dead cells naturally over a period of weeks or months. There is no invasive technique required with CoolSculpting, and since no areas undergo cutting, recovery time is almost immediate, give or take some soreness or redness depending on where the procedure is done. Scarring is extremely rare, and in general, it is a low-risk process with results that look quite natural. But there are some caveats, and you should consult with a doctor to see if it’s appropriate for you to proceed with CoolSculpting.
Are there any adverse effects?
Serious adverse events are rare. There have been a few reports of enlargement of fat cells, rather than elimination after cold has been applied. This condition, paradoxical adipose hyperplasia, occurs mainly in men, and surgery is the only way to deal with the reverse effects of the process. Other rare events are hyperpigmentation, scarring, and frostbite in the area. After the procedure, it is not uncommon to experience swelling, bruising, soreness, itching, stinging, and redness. If you have the procedure done by someone who is not adequately trained, or who isn’t using authentic CoolSculpting equipment, you could be putting yourself at risk for untoward complications. Do your homework when looking for someone to do the procedure. Also, keep in mind that this is a cosmetic procedure, so most insurance will not cover it.
What is Emsculpting?
It sounds pretty wild, because it is! Ultimately, your body will end up breaking up fat cells and excreting them as waste, but there’s a much different experience with Emsculpting. Here, electromagnetic pulses are used to target some of the hardest areas to tone: the abs and buttocks. By essentially shocking the system, the process causes supramaximal contractions — a type of muscular response that regular exercise cannot induce. The muscles become overwhelmed and release an enormous level of fatty acids, which break down fat cells in the body and turn them into waste. You could do thousands of crunches and still not get this type of reaction inside the body. Some doctors have seen results of 20% fat loss and 19% increase in muscle tone over longer periods of time. But that regular, prolonged effort is something that’s important to keep in mind — this is not a one-time fix for belly fat or unwanted cellulite. Some doctors will recommend at least four sessions to see results, but again, this should be a complement to regular exercise and a healthy diet. The process may sound too good to be true, and it’s certainly pricey, but it is not a miracle cure for a steady intake of pizza and wine.
What is the downtime, and are there adverse effects?
There’s basically no downtime for Emsculpting. An abdominal treatment takes about 30 minutes and consists of three different stages. Working on the buttocks takes a different tack but is also not something that will leave you sore. But it is a completely unnatural sensation. Your muscles are being forced to contract sometimes up to a thousand times per second. That’s not going to feel normal, though it is not painful. Afterward, it can feel like you’ve done an intense workout, but in general, patients don’t have to recover from the procedure. There’s even a period of slower contractions at the end designed to flush the lactic acid that is generated by your muscles working overtime for that long.
It is not recommended if you have a pacemaker, though, or any other metal in your body, like a hip replacement. The electromagnetic waves can cause some serious problems with either of these pre-existing structures.