Fat Chance

While the New Year is often the time people are most determined to get into shape, not everyone wants to work for it. Fortunately noninvasive technology available to medical spas, including cryolipolysis, low-level laser, radiofrequency, and ultrasound, helps bridge the gap between real and ideal bodies. As a result, nonsurgical fat reduction has soared with record year-over-year growth. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, nonsurgical fat reduction procedures were up a whopping 42 percent in 2014 with more than 135,000 procedures performed. “The trend in body contouring for the past several years has been a steady increase in consumer demand for noninvasive, nonsurgical, wash-and-wear procedures that do not require anesthesia or downtime,” says Sarvar Kothavala, vice president of marketing for the Americas for Syneron Candela.

Healthy Habits

According to doctors, the best candidates are already fit, active, and eat a balanced diet, but they are struggling with stubborn excess fat pockets. “Noninvasive body-shaping treatments are not a substitute for diet, exercise, and a healthy lifestyle,” says Kothavala. “The best patients are at or close to their ideal weight with minimal skin laxity.” As such, typical results include inch loss and circumferential reduction but not significant weight loss. On the flip side, visible results can provide extra incentive for patients to adopt other healthy habits. “When a patient sees faster results, they tend to stay more focused than with diet and exercise alone,” says Sharon Cobley, director of Laser Lipo, makers of Strawberry Laser. She adds that this is especially true for those with a significant weight-loss goal looming. “Clients that do the best with this type of treatment are those who are motivated for a true lifestyle change,” says Aaron Flickstein, D.C., clinical director for FIT Bodywrap. “Incorporating a service like this into their wellness journey will not only provide real results but also set them up for a healthier future.”

Mix and Match

Savvy medical spas are combining devices and technologies to offer a personalized slimming program for clients. “We are already seeing a rise in combination treatments with fat-dissolving injections and body shaping and skin-tightening energies,” says Kothavala. Marina Peredo, M.D., dermatologist and owner of Skinfluence (New York City) recommends combination treatments with CoolSculpting and VelaShape III or UltraShape. “There are many advantages,” says Peredo. “It’s like gourmet cooking. You add a little spice here and a little spice there until it’s just right.”

Device manufacturers make this easy with multitasking machines to eliminate unwanted fat and treat related concerns simultaneously. “When it comes to body contouring, we believe in layering technologies for the most amazing results,” says Karyna Mesia, national trainer for Silhouet-Tone. For example, Silhouet-Tone’s PR Cell 2G combines lymphatic drainage, skin folding, and subdermal deep kneading. Similarly, Chromogenex’s i-LipoXcell incorporates low-level laser, near infrared vacuum, and radiofrequency for smooth skin and a slimmed appearance. Says Flickstein, “I believe this industry has really shown the possibilities are infinite.”

Weighty Matter

According to an Aesthetic Surgery Journal report on body-contouring devices, scientific research is still limited in this area, as most study a small group of participants, receive support from manufacturers, or have financial interests in the companies. “Look for solid clinical data, and visible results with minimal discomfort, risk of side effects, and downtime for patients,” says Kothavala. “Patient safety and efficacy should always be paramount.” Here are a few significant devices that have earned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stamp of approval for specific body-contouring and fat-melting abilities.

  • BTL Industries Vanquish for circumferential reduction of the abdomen area
  • Chromogenex i-Lipo for circumferential reduction
  • Chromogenex i-LipoXcell for circumferential reduction
  • Erchonia Zerona for dissolving superficial fat
  • Syneron Candela UltraShape for fat cell destruction
  • Syneron Candela VelaShape III for circumferential reduction
  • Zeltiq CoolSculpting for fat reduction in multiple areas


Expert Energy

Learn how the underlying technologies work to blast fat fast.

Cryolipolysis: Body fat is cooled to a temperature near 4 degrees C for up to an hour, resulting in fat cell death without damage to surrounding tissues. Final results take months to appear. CoolSculpting relies on a variety of sizes of applicators fitted with cooling plates to treat specific areas.

Low-level laser therapy: The device emits cold-laser energy into the body, targeting the fat cells and leaving other tissues unharmed. It mimics the natural metabolic process, so the contents of fat cells are released, broken down, and eliminated from the body.Devices such as Zerona, i-LipoXcell, and Strawberry Laser shrink fat cells using cold lasers.

Ultrasound: High-intensity, focused sound waves disrupt and dissolve fat cells. The energy, like that used in UltraShape and Liposonix, is precise and destroys fat cells, leaving neighboring tissue unharmed.

Radiofrequency: Controlled energy is delivered to areas of excess fat, heating fat cells deep within and destroying them. Heating adipose tissue to 45 degrees C with radiofrequency energy causes a 60 percent loss of cell viability. For example, Thermage, Vanquish, and VelaShape III use this technology.

Equipment from the following companies hone in on fat and help uncover svelte figures.

BTL Industries



Fit Bodywrap

Laser Lipo

Onyx Medical



Satin Smooth


Solta Medical

Syneron Candela