Laser is the trend that continues to attract attention and adoptees because it’s an attractive alternative to traditional plastic surgery for treating fat loss. There is a host of options for fat loss and weight loss, and non-invasive laser treatment can be a safer, faster, more effective way to treat fat reduction.
Read on to get to know more about laser treatment and how some of the most common fat removal procedures compare to each other.
Cryolipolysis is cold” fat loss technique that is often confused with LLLT. It’s a non-invasive, non-laser fat reduction technique that is actually cold! It uses the “fat freezing” method, cooling fat cells so much that they die.
The administrator chooses the best size and shape of equipment for your chosen treatment area. Then that patch of skin is vacuumed so it comes into contact with cooling panels. Both the vacuum and cooling effects cause discomfort, although this should subside as the skin becomes numb. The fat is cooled for up to an hour. Then you are free to go.
Like LLLT, cryolipolysis is non-invasive. You can achieve results without having to deal with incisions and recovery time.
However, unlike LLLT, there are more limitations on who can take advantage of cryolipolysis. While LLLT can treat patients with a BMI above 30, cryolipolysis is best for people who are close to their target weight and just need help with areas that are impervious to diet and exercise. Also, because cryolipolysis uses a vacuum, candidates with loose skin won’t benefit from the procedure.
Finally, if you have cold-related conditions, such as cryoglobulinemia or cold hemoglobinuria, cryolipolysis is not recommended for you.
There will likely be some soreness and bruising after the procedure, but it shouldn’t be bothersome after a few hours.
While side effects are mostly limited to discomfort during and immediately after the session, there is a risk of asymmetry. For example, if you are targeting your abdomen, the equipment will be placed equally on both the right and left sides of your body, but each side may react differently. The treatment can be repeated if you don’t get the results you want.
If you choose laser lipo, you’ll start to see fat-reduction results almost immediately. While you’ll see changes to the site within the first week, it could take up to six months to see the full benefits of the procedure. Unlike with LLLT, it takes time to see the results. The expulsion process is encouraged by exercise and drinking lots of water. Target areas will appear smaller only after the cells are eliminated.
In contrast to its “cold” fat loss siblings, radiofrequency lipolysis uses heat. It too is a non-invasive procedure.
The radiofrequency lipolysis method heats fat with radio frequency. No equipment comes in contact with your skin—it can target fat cells specifically, killing them off while preserving surrounding tissue.
Sessions last about 30 minutes each, once a week for three or four weeks.
Because radiofrequency lipolysis equipment doesn’t make any contact with your body, it’s an attractive alternative to invasive fat loss options. Treatment requires no preparation, no anesthesia, and no recovery time.
Some people experience mild erythema following radiofrequency lipolysis. Erythema is inflammation of blood capillaries, caused by increased blood flow. The capillaries dilate and show up as redness on your skin.
Some studies show radiofrequency lipolysis significantly reducing stomach fat in as little as four to six weeks.
Also known as soft laser biostimulation, low-level laser therapy (LLLT) was initially used in conjunction with traditional liposuction to accelerate healing. It’s often used in physical therapy to assist with pain relief and muscle recovery. It’s now recognized for promoting fat loss on its own, and it gained FDA market clearance in 2010.
LLLT is a non-invasive procedure that shrinks fat cells. When low-level light is applied to targeted areas, fat cell membranes develop temporary pores. This allows fatty acids, or lipids, to escape the cell into areas where it will naturally be eliminated from the body.
Once the lipids are expelled, the fat cells remain. This may seem troubling, but it’s actually preferable to destroying them, which can be harmful to surrounding tissue.
That’s why LLLT is called “cold” therapy — not because anything is actually cold, but because it uses less harsh, low-level light, which won’t damage cells. In contrast, surgical lasers that destroy tumors need to use a higher frequency. In laser fat loss, the frequency isn’t high enough to negatively affect body tissue: it stimulates cells rather than attacking them.
Comfort is another big reason that LLLT is many people’s preferred laser treatment for weight loss goals. You lay down for 30 minutes and the session is over!
Finally, LLLT is the only method cleared by the FDA to address fat reduction in individuals with a BMI over 30. It’s also cleared to treat the whole body — not just waist, hips, and back. It can also target smaller areas like ankles and calves.
Because there’s no heat, no incision, no anesthesia, and no tugging, there’s no recovery. Period. On top of that, no preparation is required beforehand.
Repeat that 30-minute session once a week for six sessions. By the end of those six sessions, results will be noticeable.
This fat removal method only targets the under-chin area.
Injection lipolysis injects a strategic amount of deoxycholic acid into a pre-mapped grid under your chin to disintegrate and absorb fat cells. While it isn’t a surgery, it does involve needles. Your doctor will use local anesthesia.
Depending on your doctor’s recommendation, you will undergo one to six treatments.
Not all fat loss options can target small areas. Injection lipolysis is unique in that it specifically addresses fat under the chin.
While this fat reduction method requires no preparation, there is a recovery period between each session. Swelling, pain, redness, and bruising will take a few weeks to heal, so your sessions will be four-six weeks apart.
You’ll see results once the inflammation subsides. These results are long-lasting, as long as you don’t gain weight. While side effects are uncommon, nerve injury (and an uneven smile) is always possible.
There’s another laser weight loss method that uses light waves, but this one requires surgery. Also known as ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL), it has a lot of similarities to traditional liposuction.
First, a surgeon pricks a stick into your skin, which releases high-pitched sound waves that liquefy fat cells by destroying their membranes. The surgeon then sucks the liquefied fat out using a suction tool called a cannula.
If you are treating a large area, you will likely undergo surgery in a hospital. For a smaller area, the surgery will take place in a medical office and you may go home immediately after, assuming there are no side effects. In both cases, local or topical anesthesia is required.
Since UAL is a surgery, some preparation is required. For example, you’ll be asked to stop taking ibuprofen or any other blood-thinning medication starting many days prior. Additionally, you’ll want to schedule a few days off of work or school for recovery.
If you are interested in traditional liposuction, you may consider UAL as a complementary procedure. It often supports traditional liposuction because it’s more precise. After liposuction does most of the work, UAL addresses body contouring. Because of this, UAL doesn’t directly support weight loss.
UAL’s risks and recovery period are more significant than the laser fat loss and other fat reduction options previously discussed. Since it’s a surgery, there’s always risk of infection. And because the procedure uses high temperatures, burns or nerve damage are possible. There will likely be some bruising and swelling afterwards.
Your doctor will advise you on when to resume exercise so you can keep blood flowing and avoid clots. The whole recovery period can take up to two weeks.
Lifestyle counseling is recommended in conjunction with UAL. While 80 out of 609 people treated between 2002 and 2008 were happy with their results, over a third of them gained weight.
When you consider the balance of comfort and results, LLLT is an excellent laser treatment for weight loss goals.
The fact that LLLT is non-invasive can make all the difference. With no preparation and no recovery required, you don’t have to disrupt your life to undergo a confidence-boosting treatment that you’ve been looking forward to. And on top of that, consider the extra financial cost of prescriptions or surgeon’s fees.
A1: After the lasers cause fat cells to expel their lipids, the only thing your body has to do is get those acids out. Because the lymphatic system does an amazing job of processing fatty acids, you really will lose that fat. Once fat comes out of a cell, it has to leave the body.
A2: Low-level laser therapy is the only laser weight loss technique that doesn’t require you to already be in tip-top shape. Because it’s approved for treating patients with a BMI over 30 (as well as super-fit patients), it’s an incredibly inclusive laser treatment for weight loss goals.
A3: One study at Harvard saw an average loss of 3.51 inches in the waist, hips and thighs in two weeks. Emerald Laser saw 5.91 inches lost in four weeks.