The Skinny on Non-invasive Fat and Weight Loss Techniques
May 05, 2015 11:22PM
● By Patricia Staino
Humans have long wished for a magic pill they could swallow to achieve the perfect body without diet and exercise.
Recently, a number of non-invasive techniques have become available to people who want to tone up their problem areas, as well as for those who want to lose weight and develop better habits to sustain the weight loss. With the increasing number of methods available, questions arise as to their
effectiveness and safety.
There are a number of non-surgical liposuction methods that use techniques such as lasers, ultrasound, radio frequency and, in the case of CoolSculpting, cold.
CoolSculpting technology delivers precisely controlled cooling through a paddle applied directly to the skin to target the fat cells underneath. The treated fat cells are frozen and die. Following the treatment, over time the body naturally processes the fat and eliminates these dead cells permanently.
The process was discovered by Harvard University scientists Dieter Manstein, M.D., and R. Rox Anderson, M.D., who observed that some children got dimples due to eating popsicles. The idea that cold can selectively affect and eliminate fat cells without damaging the surrounding tissue drove the
development of cryolipolysis, the science on which the CoolSculpting procedure is based.
According to the machine manufacturer, patients may experience deep pulling, tugging, pinching, numbness or discomfort during the procedure. Following the procedure, typical side effects include temporary numbness, redness, swelling, bruising, firmness, tingling, stinging and pain.
Lauren Levy, the marketing director for Versailles Spa in Darien, recently underwent the procedure on her inner thighs. The slight discomfort at the start of the procedure doesn’t last long, she says. Following her treatment, she felt no worse than she did after a hard pilates class. “CoolSculpting sells itself. It’s what men and women have been dreaming of for time immemorial—no diet, no exercise, no downtime,” she states.
The average patient needs just one treatment to the specified area. Each treatment is clinically proven to reduce fat cells in the treated area by 20 to 25 percent. Patients will start seeing results about three weeks after the treatment. The area will continue to shrink for about three months.
“This is the gold standard in non-surgical body sculpting. It is based on science that has been clinically proven, it’s cleared by the FDA, and it works,” says Levy.
CoolSculpting is not a weight-loss technique, but a body-contouring procedure. As such, it is not an option for every patient who seeks a consultation. The procedure is for patients looking to get rid of spots of stubborn fat they can’t lose through diet and exercise – not for those that want to achieve significant weight loss.
Sometimes confused with laser liposuction (one method of which is called Lipo-Lite) invasive, Lipo-Light is a relatively new method that uses LED lights.
According to the machine’s manufacturer, the heat from the LED lights causes the fat cell membranes to temporarily alter the permeability of the cell. This brief change allows the fat to seep into the interstitial space where it is processed by the lymphatic system. Once broken down in the blood stream, some of the fat will be used as fuel by the body; what is not consumed as energy will reach the liver where it will either be oxidized or re-processed for storage. It is unknown how much gets oxidized versus re-stored.
Between four and eight treatment pads are placed against the skin of the treatment area. The procedure takes up to 20 minutes. The recommended number of treatments is two per week, completing a full course over a four-week period, according to the manufacturer. Patients are expected to exercise immediately following the treatment, in order to burn the energy in the body that the dispersed fat has created. Patients see instant results, which multiple providers claim are permanent.
“With Lipo-Light, you are instantly motivated, you see immediate results, and it will stay that way if you eat right and exercise,” said Diane Bahr-Groth, of Mind-Body Transformation Hypnosis Center in Stamford. She offers Lipo-Light to her patients and has used the method herself.
Like CoolSculpting, the goal of Lipo-Light is body contouring, not weight loss. The manufacturer says a patient can lose two to six inches over the course of treatment; Bahr-Groth has lost three inches from her waist after using the machine four times.
Patients need to be fairly healthy to use Lipo-Light; those with diabetes, HIV, thyroid issues and cancer should not undergo this treatment.
Also, note that the procedure is not FDA-cleared. This is not necessarily because the process isn’t safe but, according to the FDA website, LED lights are not the same as lasers and therefore are covered by a different set of standards than those of the FDA.
The Acu-Thin program is meant for the patient who seeks weight loss. It uses auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture) to decrease cravings and appetite. A number of studies have found ariculotherapy is effective for weight loss and results can be achieved with or without needles. The needles or pads stimulate the vagal nerve in the ear, which raises serotonin levels. This can help tone the smooth muscle of the stomach, which results in appetite suppression.
Patrick Guerin, DC, of Westport Chiropractic and Acupuncture in Westport, says patients will notice a difference within 24 hours of the first treatment. During the weekly follow-up office visits, the doctor applies Acu-Thin Pressure Point Patches to maintain the pressure on the ear points until the next visit. To reinforce the effects, the patient is given an Acu-Thin Pen – a piezo electric device, which emits a small charge to stimulate the ear points and allows for at-home “touch-ups” between appointments.
Guerin offers a personalized program, which includes herbal and meal supplements that help patients lose weight without hunger, cravings or calorie counting.
“Acupuncturists have known for many years that there are specific points in the human ear that can be stimulated to help dramatically control various addictive behaviors,” he says. “These treatments are well documented and are in use in clinics throughout the world to aid recovery from all sorts of addictions by relieving cravings.”
Patients can expect to lose one to two pounds per week.
“There are no side effects, only side benefits,” Guerin explains. “Patients also often notice less anxiety and stress and more serenity during the process of weight loss. It is true weight loss without diet, drugs or exercise.”
Virtual Gastric Band
While Mind-Body Transformation offers Lipo-Light to patients as part of its mission to empower clients, the main focus of Bahr-Groth’s practice is hypnosis. She is a registered consulting hypnotist with more than 23 years of experience in mind-body therapy.
While she offers a traditional program for weight loss, she is also certified in the Virtual Gastric Band Hypnosis Program. Developed in England, the method is an alternative to placement of a gastric band around a patient’s stomach, which carries the typical risks and discomfort of surgery and can result in side effects such as regurgitation of food. The virtual gastric band eliminates these issues.
Bahr-Groth is one of the first hypnotists in the United States trained in the method. With the Virtual Gastric Band method, she says clients have an average weight loss of seven pounds in the first week, followed by a loss of one to two pounds weekly after that. With a 95 percent success rate, her patients lose weight naturally, without following a diet plan.
“It changes people’s patterns and habits, and that’s what people want; they want to be more in control,” she says.
The process starts with thought field therapy – a system that integrates the meridian system as well as applied kinesiology – to discover the emotional root of a patient’s overeating. Bahr-Groth then takes the patient under hypnosis through the “surgical” procedure; after the session, the patient subconsciously believes she has a gastric band in place. From then on, she will eat smaller portions and make healthier choices because the brain thinks the body is physically incapable of doing otherwise.
Unlike CoolSculpting or Lipo-Light, hypnosis can achieve significant weight loss and help patients make changes in their eating and exercise habits.
Although they are still significantly cheaper than traditional liposuction, none of these options are considered cheap. CoolSculpting costs around $600 to $800 per session (although often only one session is needed). The fees for Lipo-Light are approximately $150 to $200 per session with multiple sessions required. Hypnosis can run $100 to $300 per session; multiple sessions are needed for weight loss issues.
Patricia Staino is a freelance writer living in Holly Springs, NC, who spends her free time teetering in tree pose and sneaking off to read. She can be reached at [email protected].
Greenwich Medical Spa
1285 E. Putnam Ave, Riverside
Versailles Medical Spa
106 Noroton Ave, Darien
Hypnosis, Virtual Gastric Band, Lipo-Light
Mind Body Transformation
1177 High Ridge Rd, Stamford
Westport Chiropractic and Acupuncture
256 Post Rd East, Westport