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As the number of obese and overweight people is on the rise, so is the opening up of slimming centres! These clinics promise weight loss and fat reduction without any exercise. Sounds too good to be true? The fact is, technology and science have made it possible to lose inches with and without surgery. Dr Cindy, MD, lists out the pros and cons of five popular slimming technologies to help you make an informed choice.
The process of improvement of the definition, shape and smoothness of the human physique is called body contouring. In earlier days, doctors performed body contouring through invasive procedures such as liposuction. However, there are quite a few side-effects of liposuction including anesthesia complications, infections and even death.
Luckily, technology has evolved to give way to non-invasive techniques for body shaping. These modalities focus on targeting specific physical properties of fat so it can be selectively removed. However, the question remains, do these non-invasive methods really work? Read below to learn about the different body contouring technologies and what you should look for when opting for one.

Technology #1: Cryolipolysis
Cryolipolysis, in regular words, is the removal or ‘lysis’ of fat or ‘lipo’ through freezing (cryo). Essentially, fat is more susceptible to cold than the surrounding tissue, so through cryolipolysis, fat cells can be induced to die on their own without affecting nearby structures. Some common machines that use this type of technology are known as CoolSculpting or CoolTech.

Does it work?
As per small-scale studies, this science has proven to reduce the percentage of fat on the flanks or love handles by around 22.4% which is nothing to sneeze at! And, it has been US FDA approved. However, large studies have not been conducted and fat loss on other areas of the body is still being evaluated.

Technology #2: Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Essentially, this technology theoretically works by using a 635 nm laser to create a hole in the fat cell, ultimately causing it to deflate. Then, the lipids or fat is carried away by the body’s natural systemic flow and excreted. Common machines with this technology are known as i-Lipo or Zerona.

Does it work?
Typically, studies have shown that LLLT can work with other therapies such as liposuction. However, when used alone, its efficacy data is very limited. While a few studies have shown some inch reduction, others have shown no results thereby giving quite a mixed picture.

What are the side-effects?
There are minimal to no side-effects with this procedure.

Technology #3: Focused Ultrasound
In this procedure, ultrasound waves are focused directly on the fat layer whereby sound waves attack adipocytes (fat cells), inducing them to heat up and then ultimately die off. Since the ultrasound is specified to only the fat, there is no damage to surrounding tissue and the contents of the fat cells are carried away by the body’s natural lymphatic flow. Some common machines with this type of technology are known as Accent Ultra, UltraShape or MedContour or Liposonix. You could also try weight loss tips from our simple weight loss guide.

Does it work?
Large-scale studies have shown that using ultrasound technology can reduce your abdominal girth by nearly 4.7 cm on an average with the results maintained even after 12 weeks. These results led the US FDA to robustly approve this therapy for fat loss.

What are the side-effects?
Luckily, the side-effects for ultrasound technology are less than cryolipolysis and are usually limited to some mild redness. Some patients, in the case of high-intensity ultrasound therapy, may have some mild, localised tenderness which will resolve after some time.

Technology #4: Radiofrequency
Here, specific radiofrequency energy provides deep, controlled heating of the targeted fat while also tightening tissue, increasing collagen synthesis and improving blood circulation. This ultimately provides three benefits at once: inch loss, cellulite reduction and tightening of sagging skin. Some common machines with this type of technology include Accent Ultra, Thermage or Exilis.

Does it work?
Radiofrequency has been extensively studied and has been US FDA approved for nearly a decade. Multiple, large-scale studies have been conducted that have proven that radiofrequency causes inch loss, cellulite reduction and skin tightening.

What are the side-effects?
Essentially, some redness or mild bruising, but other than that, side-effects are minimal.

Technology #5: Combination Radiofrequency and Ultrasound
These days, the trend is combining technologies to exponentially improve the results from body contouring therapies.
As discussed above, Ultrasound and Radiofrequency are the most studied and tried-and-tested technologies for body contouring. When combined, they increase fat and inch loss while also improving cellulite and loose skin. A machine that incorporates both is the Accent Ultra.

Does it work?
Since two or more sciences are combined, the results are significantly better from traditional, single therapy solutions. And due to the added benefit of radiofrequency, the skin texture and tightness also improves. The results are long-term and are US FDA proven and approved.
The Accent Ultra also provides lymphatic massage which helps dissipate any residual fat thereby augmenting fat loss. Recent data has shown that this lymphatic massage is vital to promoting and maintaining long-term body contouring. Also read about quick-fix weight loss methods – do they work?

What are the side-effects?
Essentially, there may be some mild redness or bruising, but otherwise, this combination is entirely safe, pain-free and risk-free.