Understanding the Ins and Outs of Body Contouring
There’s no shame in getting a little help. Plenty of guys work out in order to look good, and it can be tough if all of that effort doesn’t pay off as much as you want. Luckily, we’re living in a body-contouring renaissance, in which technology has made it easier than ever to supplement exercise. These treatments are designed for detail work, so they’re best for people who want to "refine their appearance," according to plastic surgeon Darrick Antell. But they can also help kick-start a weight-loss routine if you don’t already have one (like me) or need a little more motivation to get to the gym (also like me).
Freeze (or Melt) It
When CoolSculpting ($2,000 to $4,000 per treatment) was approved by the FDA in 2010, it sparked a revolution in noninvasive fat removal. Instead of getting surgery, people could freeze fat cells, which killed them and allowed them to be flushed out by peeing. The treatment—it feels not unlike targeted hypothermia—now takes about 45 minutes per area, and the parts of the body that can be worked on include not just love handles but also the arms, stomach, and most recently the chin. Other treatments rely on the same approach but different technologies, like SculpSure, which hyper-heats the fat with a laser, and Tru-Sculpt ID, which uses radio-frequency energy. There is a minimal recovery period, and the average patient can see a 20 to 25 percent reduction of fat in the area in three months.
Build Around It
Most body-contouring technologies focus on fat reduction, but a new device called Emsculpt helps build muscle. It's like those electric belts you see advertised on late-night infomercials, but, you know, it actually works. It's akin to an MRI in that it uses similar electromagnetic energy to hyper-stimulate the targeted muscles. (Right now it's approved for your abs and your butt.) "You're giving your body a workout you couldn't do on your own," says cosmetic dermatologist Paul Jarrod Frank, who says one session of Emsculpt (less than $1,000) is equivalent to doing 20,000 crunches in 30 minutes. "Four treatments make about a 15 percent difference in the muscle development," says Frank.
Many people are attracted to noninvasive body-contouring solutions because they don't want to have surgery, but now liposuction barely counts. It still involves cutting and operating beneath the surface, but depending on the area and the amount of fat removed, it can be done under local anesthesia. "You can do it on Thursday and go back to work on Monday," says plastic surgeon David Shafer. And as opposed to noninvasive options, "one treatment may be all you need to reshape problem areas," says Antell.
New developments in liposuction have benefited both the doctor and the patient. Smartlipo, for instance, uses a laser to melt fat (making it easier to suck out), tighten skin (so it bounces back faster), and seal blood vessels (to cut down on bruising). BodyTite is similar but uses radio-frequency waves instead of a laser. These new technologies allow for more detailed contouring and a more delicate approach. And unlike with noninvasive options, you don’t have to be in pretty good shape already to see a difference. In fact, they’re probably the best options for those of us who need a little extra help. "There's never a question of, 'Did it make a difference?'" says Shafer. "There's no substitute for sucking that fat out."
This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.