Liposuction alternatives: Are fat-busting devices effective?

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Liposuction alternatives: Are fat-busting devices effective?

Question

Are liposuction alternatives a good way to get rid of body fat? I've tried diet and exercise but still have love handles.

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Answer

Because of their newness to the market, it's too soon to tell if liposuction alternatives are a good way to remove excess body fat or if they'll replace traditional liposuction. Liposuction alternatives are cosmetic techniques for body contouring and fat removal. Liposuction alternatives are touted as safer ways to eliminate unwanted pockets of body fat, like love handles, because they don't involve needles, surgery or anesthesia.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two devices for the removal of specific areas of body fat:

  • CoolSculpting. This device is marketed as targeting unwanted areas of fat, such as love handles and back fat. CoolSculpting freezes and destroys fat cells in a process called cryolipolysis, which reduces the appearance of fat bulges. The manufacturer says your body harmlessly eliminates the destroyed fat cells.
  • Zerona. This device, sometimes called a medical laser, is marketed as a way to reduce the circumference of your waist, hips and thighs. Using cold energy, the Zerona laser essentially forces fat out of fat cells, resulting in a loss of inches from your waist, hips or thighs. The manufacturer says your body naturally eliminates this fat.

Other fat-busting devices are hoping to get FDA approval, too.

There have been few clinical trials to test the effectiveness of liposuction alternatives, and the trials that have been conducted included only a few dozen participants. The results have been mixed, with some participants experiencing fat loss and others seeing no beneficial effects.

Liposuction alternatives are said to have few side effects. Side effects with CoolSculpting can include temporary redness, minor bruising, tingling and numbness around treated areas. You may also feel intense cold during the procedure. Possible side effects with Zerona can include eye damage. Both devices also pose a risk of electric shock if not properly grounded. You can resume normal activities immediately after either procedure.

Liposuction alternatives aren't good options for everyone. They're meant for people who are generally fit but who have love handles or other pockets of fat that diet and exercise haven't eliminated. Liposuction alternatives are not for weight loss or large-scale fat reduction. They're used purely for cosmetic reasons.

And keep in mind that even after successful use of a liposuction alternative, diet and exercise are important — you can gain weight after this kind of body sculpting, and you can develop unwanted fat in other areas of your body.

Last Updated: 2010-11-10
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