Weighing in on body contouring

Posted on January 19th, 2010 by Gina

American Health and Beauty, the Texas-based website for 2 of the 3P’s of Vanity – Processes and Plastic Surgery, reported on their reader’s “Top 5 Minimally Invasive Body Contouring Brands” in 2009. We thought they were interesting choices, so we checked in with a couple of our trusted resources to see what they had to say, as well as adding our own experience and opinion:

SmartLipo: (as opposed to DumbLipo?) Also called Laser Lipolysis, this treatment melts fat and destroys fat cells from targeted areas.  Using a small incision to insert a small tool that “washes away” fat, the procedure has very little downtime because the liquefied deposits are flushed out through normal bodily functions.  According to Realself.com, of the 400 people who reviewed the procedure from all parts of the country, more than 70 percent were happy with the results.  Depending on the size of the body part, the cost ranges from $3000-$8000.

Body ThermageThermage is a minimally effective technology previously used on faces for non-invasive uplifts.  Reinventing itself as a body contouring procedure, Thermage uses radio waves to heat the collagen in deep tissue and firm it up.  The idea is a bit like cooking a chicken breast – raw chicken is loose and flimsy, cooked chicken is solid and firm.  If only it really worked that way.  Of the 175 Realself.com reviewers, only 38 percent thought it was worth it.  In the spirit of full disclosure, this sucker, er, reporter tried Thermage on her face a few years ago and experienced minor results.  Costs range from $1500-$4000, and I’m not telling you where I fell in that spread.

Zerona: LookinGood previously reported on this procedure and despite the publicity it has received from Rachel Ray, the verdict on its efficacy is still out.  Realself.com has only 14 reviews of Zerona, for instance, and so far they aren’t great, with headlines like “the only thing that got thinner was my bank account.”  Zerona is a space-age looking external device that allegedly puffs up fat cells making them more porous; the body then excretes the fatty cells.  You need 4-6 visits to the doctor for a full treatment, and it should reduce your bank account by about $2500.

VASER Lipo:  This one is a new one for LookinGood. VASER is an acronym that stands for Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance, and utilizes, of course, sound waves. Similar to SmartLipo, a tiny tool is inserted under the skin that emits ultrasonic waves for emulsifying the fatty cells in small areas.  VASER, however, can be liposuction – it sucks out the fatty cells like traditional lipo, or the area is massaged so that the cells are absorbed into the body for normal excretion.  VASER Hi Def is a procedure that appears to be a contouring tool for men, where the device is precisely focused around targeted muscle groups, giving the muscles more visual definition from lack of fat (take a look at this picture.) Sound Surgical Technologies says that more than 100,000 people have tried VASER, but Realself.com reviews are almost split 50/50.  Again, depending on the size of the area treated, the cost runs from $2000-$10,000.

LipoLite: Last, and perhaps the least, LipoLite is described by American Health and Beauty as “a tiny incision … into which a precise and powerful laser beam liquefies fat cell deposits.”  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  What makes this different from SmartLipo is that the device is made by a different company and used on smaller areas of the body, like the neck or face.  We urge caution here, however.  There are very few reviews and at least one plastic surgeon who calls it a gimmick.

Body contouring has proven to be safe, effective and worthwhile to hundreds of thousands of people.  Do your homework, though. Or, just Ask LookinGood!

One Comment on “Weighing in on body contouring”

  1. Body Contouring Chicago

    I disagree with the take on Thermage. Websites that ask for reviews are probably only going to get upset reviewers and will miss out on many happy customers.

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