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Non-Invasive Body Contouring

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If you have any stubborn fat you can’t seem to get rid of, no matter how much you diet and exercise, liposuction at our Columbus, Ohio office is a foolproof solution. Here are some frequently asked questions about liposuction that may be able to help you determine whether or not it is the best option for you:


At the Columbus Institute of Plastic Surgery, Dr. Shah specializes in both non-surgical and surgical body contouring procedures.  A national leader in body contouring surgery, he combines decades of experience with knowledge of the latest advances to deliver the very best results for patients.  Come find out what a difference his dedication to excellence makes!


Have you ever been bothered by stubborn fat on your thighs, tummy, flanks or arms but did not want to consider liposuction because of concerns about down-time or recovery?  Do non-invasive body contouring treatments like CoolSculpting, Liposonix, or Vanquish seem like a good solution to this dilemma?  If so, read on to get an honest assessment of how these treatments “stack-up” and compare to traditional treatments like traditional liposuction and laser-assisted liposuction.


Improvements in technology have made it possible to achieve non-surgical fat reduction through procedures such as CoolSculpting®.  CoolSculpting® is a technology that safely freezes fat to improve the contour of unsightly bulges of the body that are resistant to exercise and diet.  It has become one of the most popular non-surgical body contouring treatments in a short period of time.

During a CoolSculpting consultation, a  physician, nurse or medical assistant will assess the problem areas that are of concern.  Discrete bulges that can easily be grasped with two hands and pulled away from the body respond well to this treatment.  Soft, “doughy” fat responds much better than hard fibrous fat.   Popular areas for treatment include the upper and lower abdomen, love handles, bra rolls, arms, and inner thighs.  A treatment plan of one to two treatment sessions is developed.

Treatment involves a reasonably comfortable procedure performed in the office without any medications.  A cool gel sheet is applied to protect the skin.  A suction cup device is applied to the problem area which sucks the skin and fat in and gently freezes the fat.  The crystallization of fat leads to permanent clearance of these fat cells and byproducts through the lymphatic system and liver.  The permanent reduction in fat cells leads to a reduction of 20-22% in size of the bulge.  More noticeable improvement can be achieved with two sessions separated one month apart.  After the procedure, patients can drive themselves home and resume light activities that same day.  Some patients may experience numbness, tingling or a mild burning sensation after the treatment and for a few weeks afterward.  One of the disadvantages of this treatment is that the cold treatment does not tighten or shrink loose skin, so patients with loose skin are not ideal candidates.


Less popular technologies like Liposonix, iLipo, and Vanquish use ultrasound, radiofrequency, and laser energy to heat up a layer of fat below the skin without heating up the skin excessively.  The goal of the treatment is to heat up the fat cells to 42 degrees Celsius for a specified period of time.  If fat can be maintained at this temperature for long enough without hurting the skin or causing pain, then the fat cells undergo a natural process called “apoptosis”, shrivels up and dies.  Fatty acid contents of the fat cells are absorbed by your lymphatic drainage system, processed in the liver and excreted by your gastrointestinal tract.  Fat reduction from these technologies range from approximately 10-20% per treatment.  It is possible to return to light activities the same day.  Swelling, soreness and occasionally bruising can occur with these treatments.  Because these devices use heat, some small degree of skin tightening can occur with these treatments, but it is hard to measure.  One disadvantage is that these heat-based treatments tend to be more uncomfortable and can be painful in some circumstances requiring narcotic and sedative medications.  If these medications are taken, you would not be able to drive yourself home.  Not all patients respond to the same degree with any of these treatments.  There are good responders, average responders, and non-responders.  A few of the remaining technical challenges for these devices that affect outcomes include 1. Their ability to keep fat evenly heated at 42 degrees for long enough, 2. Keeping the fat heated without burning the skin or causing excessive pain and 3.  The modest pace at which these treatments have their effect.


If you are a busy, health-conscious person with modest expectations, CoolSculpting would be great to reduce fat in the lower abdomen by about 20% per treatment.  To get a harmonious result you will need to treat the surrounding area around the belly button.  This would mean about 2-4 cycles at a minimum at about $675-750 per cycle, depending on where you live.  To see a really noticeable result, you will probably need two separate treatment sessions one month apart, then you will need to wait three months to see the final results.  The other Non-Surgical Body Contouring devices such as Liposonix, iLipo and Vanquish are also plagued by the need for multiple treatments and long wait time before you can see a noticeable result.  If your provider is honest with you, they should tell you that not all patients respond to either of these two types of treatments so there will be some non-responders.  In these situations, another procedure like liposuction is the go to procedure for salvaging your situation.  The benefit of the non-surgical approach is that you will not have surgery, no scars, no downtime, but you will have some swelling and soreness after the procedures each time.  As you can probably tell, the cost and issues of the non-surgical approach quickly start to add up.  Unfortunately, it is not as simple and amazing as it sounds in the advertisements. 

In contrast, a small area such as the ones that most patients are concerned about can be treated with laser liposuction or regular liposuction to reduce the fat on average by 55-80% in one simple step.  Depending on how much is removed, this procedure can be done under local anesthesia for one price in one step.  You will return to regular home activities in days, light exercise in two weeks and full contact sports in 4-6 weeks.  If you do the math, you will quickly find out that liposuction is a much better value than all of the non-invasive treatments when you stack up costs, steps and results.  You will have to decide if the perceived stigma of liposuction surgery, small 3 mm incisions and a  short recovery is enough to discourage you.  For some people, they don’t care about getting minimal results at considerable expense with CoolSculpt or other non-surgical treatments as long as you don’t have to have surgery.  For others, results and cost are the primary considerations and Liposuction would be a better choice. This is coming from a doctor who has considerable experience with both treatments.  You have to decide what your values and priorities are!

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