When it comes to getting rid of stubborn fat and overcoming signs of aging, doctors and patients have lots of options these days. Beyond the obvious cost and recovery differences, how do the results of some of these newer options compare with liposuction, tummy tucks, and traditional facelifts?
Body Contouring Breakthroughs
Even if you exercise and eat right, you may still have stubborn fat deposits that won’t go away. Since the 1980s, liposuction has been the gold standard for removing fat deposits. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), “liposuction slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits and improving your body contours and proportion.”
Liposuction can be used to treat more and larger areas in one procedure than non-invasive treatments with consistent and predictable results. However, it is not possible to improve lax skin tone with liposuction, according to ASPS.
Most patients return to work in a few days following traditional liposuction and the day after a laser-assisted or SmartLipo procedure. Since patients are put to sleep for traditional liposuction, there is the risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolus. SmartLipo does not pose these risks, since patients are not put to sleep for the procedure.
One of the newest alternatives to liposuction, SculpSure, is a noninvasive procedure that uses light-based technology to reduce stubborn fat. According to the SculpSure website, “Laser energy targets and heats fat cells below the skin’s surface, raising their temperature to damage their structural integrity. For three months following the treatment, the body’s lymphatic system processes and eliminates the fat cells.” The treatment destroys up to 24 percent of the treated fat.
Patients see results in as little as six weeks and optimal results in 12 weeks from one treatment, and more than one area can be treated during a session. Dr. David Berman offers SculpSure and recommends that all patients receive two treatments, spaced four to six weeks apart. The treatment takes just 25 minutes with no downtime and no scars.
“The [SculpSure] treatment destroys up to 24 percent of the treated fat.”
Dr. Berman even used SculpSure himself to treat his love handles, chronicling his experience on his website, where he explains the process. “The laser paddles are attached, and for the first five minutes, the paddles just get warmer. I found the first 5 and 10 minutes definitely very warm. However, the analogy I was given was to think of it like a hot bath that you get into. At first, you think, wow, that is hot, but rather quickly you get used to it. Also, the heat actually cycles. You experience 45 seconds of heating followed by 15 seconds of cooling.”
Dr. Berman did not experience any adverse effects or downtime, but he says some people have reported some soreness the day after the procedure. He underwent two treatment sessions six weeks apart, saw definite improvement and is happy with his results.
One of the main factors that would determine whether SculpSure or surgery is right for a patient is skin elasticity. “The big reason for a tummy tuck is loose skin,” Dr. Berman said. “We can decrease the fat, but if someone has poor skin tone and a moderate amount of loose skin, it will still need to be surgically removed with a tummy tuck.
“However, you don’t have to be at your ideal weight at take advantage of SculpSure. If you don’t have significantly loose skin, even if you are overweight, SculpSure can help you look better by reducing fat in the treated areas.”
Dr. Berman tells his patients, “It’s a partnership. I can reduce but not eliminate excess fat in a specific area. However, if you can reduce your overall body fat, through increased exercise and better food choices, then you will get an overall better result, both in how you look and feel.”
Another body contouring option is a minimally invasive procedure called BodyTite. It is similar to SmartLipo, but BodyTite uses radio frequency energy to melt fat.
Dr. Csaba Magassy offers BodyTite to his patients. He explains that it is considered a minimally invasive procedure because a small puncture is made in the skin and a probe is inserted to reach and melt the fat cells.
Dr. Magassy usually sedates patients for the procedure, but it can be done with local anesthetic. Although treating each area takes approximately 15 minutes, multiple areas can be treated in one visit. Downtime with BodyTite depends on the extent of the treatment and ranges from one to two days and up to 10 days.
Patients can see results immediately and will continue to see improvement as the body eliminates the dead fat cells for three to four months after the one-time procedure.
Dr. Magassy has abandoned SmartLipo procedures in favor of BodyTite because he said, “You get about 40 percent skin contraction with BodyTite and about 15 to 20 percent with SmartLipo.” Still, he said there are cases where traditional surgery is necessary, such as after a large weight loss which leaves lots of excess skin.
The BodyTite manufacturer also developed FaceTite to apply the technology to areas on the face and neck. According to the manufacturer, FaceTite offers a less traumatic and less costly procedure than a facelift with no scars or post-operative swelling and discomfort. Patients see optimal results in six to 12 weeks, although they will notice an immediate difference.
Dr. Magassy also offers FaceTite, and explains that it works to remove excess fat cells and tighten sagging skin below the chin and in the jowls for a more youthful appearance. Other anti-aging procedures that get a lot of buzz these days include injectibles or fillers and weekend facelifts.
The weekend facelift, so-called because many patients feel they can return to normal activities after only a weekend to recover, uses barbed sutures to lift the skin up. “It only lasts for two or three months,” said Dr. Magassy. “Barbed sutures work for just so long before they work through the tissue. People used to come in and ask for that, but they were very unhappy patients, so I quit doing those.”
“Injectibles add volume to areas where we lose volume as we age, such as in the cheeks and lips,” said Dr. Magassy. But they aren’t for everyone, because they won’t help with sagging skin.
According to Dr. Berman, “Fillers and techniques such as SmartLipo to the neck area can hold off a facelift for many years and sometimes forever, depending on the person. However some people will still need a facelift. “I think it will be many years before we can do away with a tummy tuck or facelift for everyone,” he said.
Dr. David E. Berman
Dr. David E. Berman is Fellowship trained and a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in both Canada and The United States. He has been practicing cosmetic plastic surgery in Northern Virginia for over 14 years. Dr. Berman is well known amongst his peers and patients for his honesty as well as his excellent, safe, and natural surgical results. Dr. Berman is highly praised & sought after in his area of expertise: Breast, Body, and Facial Cosmetic Surgery.
Berman Cosmetic Surgery
1 (855) 851-4798 | www.bermancosmeticsurgery.com
14 Pidgeon Hill Drive, Suite 100 | Sterling VA 20165
Dr. Csaba L. Magassy
Dr. Csaba L. Magassy is one of the Washington area’s best-known and most highly regarded plastic surgeons. Specializing in surgical and non-surgical procedures, Dr. Magassy has helped thousands reach their cosmetic goals. With over twenty years of experience, Dr. Magassy has achieved the ability to reflect nature’s most beautiful work in each of his patients.
Plastic Surgery Associates, PC
(703) 790-5454 | plasticsurgerymclean.com
1300 Chain Bridge Rd | McLean, VA 22101