THE BLOG

Fat Facts: Is It All Over for Lipo?

17/10/2014 11:57 BST | Updated 16/12/2014 10:59 GMT

Do you suffer with stubborn unwanted pockets of fat? You're not alone, and it was recently reported over 60% of UK women would like to see the back of specific lumps and bumps.

There are many colourful pills and fad diets out there that promise to provide dramatic results on reducing the look of these fatty areas, but most do not produce the results they promise. For some men and women a more permanent solution is required, with many turning to invasive, costly and often time consuming treatments like liposuction.

Sure, the results are usually striking but procedures like these - as with any surgical procedure, cosmetic or not - come with their own set of risks and complications. There's been much talk in the media over the last few years regarding non-surgical alternatives to fat reduction, many of which are now flagged under the universal title of body contouring treatments. These energy-assisted treatments offer a smoother contour and shape to the body without the pain and risk of surgery; but can they compete with their more traditional counterparts?

The truth is (fairly obviously) that there's a big difference between a surgical procedure and a non-surgical alternative. While in many cases they have a similar goal - to make the patient feel more confident about their body shape - these treatments could not be more different.

With that in mind let's explore the pros and cons of liposuction versus non-invasive alternatives.

Liposuction

What is it?

Liposuction is also known as lipoplasty or liposculpture and, simply put, is the removal of excess fat from under the skin by suction. There are various types but traditionally, lipo involves small, thin, blunt-tipped tubes (cannulas) being inserted through tiny cuts in the skin. Fat is then suctioned out through these tubes and the plastic surgeon moves the tubes around under the skin to target specific fat areas.

Pros

There's no doubt that liposuction offers fairly immediate results. Fat is removed from the body therefore leaving you with a smoother shape. Providing you eat well and exercise after the surgery you should maintain the result for the future. Surgeons agree that fat cannot return to the treated area once you've had liposuction, so as long as you look after yourself you shouldn't see the bulge return.

Cons

While techniques have improved vastly over the last decade, this procedure is still invasive and can be quite painful, and you may well be left with a bruised appearance to the treated area. It's not cheap either; the average cost of lipo is around £2,500 but this can increase heavily if the area of concern is large. Despite a popular misconception that lipo isn't a surgical procedure, it most certainly is and it should be considered as carefully as any other invasive option.

Energy-Assisted Fat Reduction

What is it?

Body contouring using an energy-assisted device is big news right now. From heat-based devices that destroy the unwanted fat cells with radiofrequency energy to their colder counterparts that freeze the flab, there are lots of options which work in different ways with varying degrees of success.

Pros

Treatment is convenient and requires no recovery time. Heat-based body contouring treatments are quick and take around thirty minutes on average, which is a huge plus. They can be slipped into your daily routine without too much inconvenience and you can return to work or your daily schedule right away. With new devices like Vanquish - a contactless body contouring system - a large treatment area can be tackled at once. Celebrities are also flocking to treatments like this left, right and centre, making them the 'cool kid' of the cosmetic surgery industry right now

Cons

The results are subjective; some people see a great result immediately, others may have to wait. A course of 3-4 sittings of some fat reduction treatments will probably be needed in order to gain the full potential of results, which means you will need to plan the treatment into your diary for a few months.

And what do the experts think?

Well the jury is still out when it comes to traditional versus modern forms of body contouring, but it's good to see many surgeons and cosmetic doctors are including non-surgical fat reduction devices to their clinics, understanding that combination treatments can provide great results. Energy-assisted treatments have also been accredited by many experts as a great tool to improve self-esteem without going under the knife. In fact, I recently spoke to Dr Kannan Athreya, a cosmetic doctor and GP from Essex, who told me he believes in offering a combination of diet and exercise advice along with treatments like Exilis body contouring, because looking and feeling your best promotes physical as well as psychological well-being.

At Cosmetic magazine, we are frequently asked which type of procedure we recommend, but as with anything relating to aesthetic treatments - it's an individual decision. Each has its own merit and points for and against although non-surgical options are, in the right hands, generally the safer option.

If you're considering either type of treatment, do your research and make sure you choose a qualified and experienced practitioner to guide you through this (often confusing) decision.

Be informed and be safe.

As I always say, you only get one body; look after it.