There is nothing like a new year to make us take stock of— our careers, our friendships and our figures. Unfortunately, the latter may not be where you’d like it thanks to the 6-week eating bonanza that begins for most of us at Thanksgiving and ends somewhere around December 31. Whether your issue is a few extra holiday pounds or a genetic pre-disposition to carry excess pockets of fat in certain areas of the body, restoring proper body proportion can make you look and feel more vital. And there is nothing better than kicking off a new year believing that you can conquer the world.
While there are quite a few really effective body contouring modalities out there, one of my favorites is actually a non-surgical procedure called SculpSure. It is basically a laser that destroys the fat cells with heat. I have had the incredibly good fortune to be the Medical Director at Cynosure, the maker of SculpSure, since 2013. I was also a principal investigator in the initial studies that led to its FDA approval as well as the continued studies into its further applications. This has given me a true birds eye view of the ins and outs of the procedure. So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer, as honestly as possible, the questions that I hear most often from potential patients.
Does SculpSure Really Work?
Yes. I have seen some truly amazing results with SculpSure. But here is the catch — only in the right patient. This begs the question, of course: Who is the right patient? For starters, none of the body contouring procedures are about weight loss. They are about restoring proper proportion by eliminating stubborn pockets of fat. So, SculpSure is ideal for patients who:
- Are within 10 pounds of a maintainable goal weight
- In good health
- Exercise regularly
- Are bothered by isolated pockets of excess fat
- Have good skin
SculpSure is a 1060nm laser that is directed at and has an affinity for fat. It works efficiently on targeted areas of troublesome fat. The body then eliminates the disrupted fat through the lymphatic system.
One of the reasons why it’s important to see a plastic surgeon who offers the full array of body contouring procedures is that you want someone who will truthfully assess your body and recommend the best procedure or procedures for your individual anatomy. Then, you can make an informed decision. Bottom line, a happy patient is someone who has realistic expectations as to what, exactly, a procedure can deliver.
How Much Fat Will Be Removed?
In all honesty, I tell my patients to expect a 20% reduction in the number of fat cells in whatever area or areas that we treat. But this is per treatment. A 20% reduction/improvement is the same for most non-invasive body contouring devices – both those that use laser and those that use cold. Now one of the things that is great about SculpSure is that it is extremely versatile. While it was only initially FDA approved to treat the:
It is now also FDA approved to address excess fat in the:
- Inner/outer thighs
- Bra roll
- Under the chin
However, one of the main downsides of SculpSure is that it requires more than one treatment. Most patients will need at least 2 treatments, spaced 4-6 weeks apart, in order to achieve their ideal results.
Is SculpSure Painful?
Here is the thing about pain: every patient experiences pain differently. So, while some patients do find SculpSure to be easily tolerated, others do not. And patients can get very anxious at the thought of pain. My goal with any procedure that I perform is to make it as tolerable and stress free as possible. Not only is it the best thing for a patient’s peace of mind, but it also creates the right atmosphere for healing.
Nitronox is a new angle on pain control for my SculpSure patients. It is a mixture of 50% medical nitrous oxide and 50% medical oxygen that works to “take the edge off”. It is basically a minor breathing treatment that temporarily makes you more tolerant of potential discomfort. It is self-administered via a mask that you hold against your mouth so you control how much or little medicine you need. And it wears off immediately which means there is no need to have someone drive you home as there is with anesthesia. I have found it to be hugely beneficial for my SculpSure patients.
If I Gain Weight, Will the Fat Go Elsewhere?
Most patients don’t really understand fat. We are all born with a certain number of fat cells. For many of us, more of these cells wind up in one area, like the abdomen, than another. SculpSure destroys the fat cells in the targeted area permanently. These fat cells do not ever grow back. But if you gain a significant amount of weight, typically more than 10 pounds, then your remaining fat cells will swell or grow larger. And this will once again throw off your body contour. This is why it’s really important to be at a maintainable goal weight before undergoing any body contouring procedure, whether it be surgical or non-surgical. So, if your muffin top is looking more like a popover, come in and talk with me about SculpSure. Together, we can have you bathing suit ready by March.