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After my “fat freezing” treatment courtesy of the Zeltiq CoolSculpting machine introduced to SA last year, I was sure that liposuction would by now be losing ground as a bulge-battling option.
Because even if a fatty layer is only minimally reduced in a non-surgical treatment, it’s enough to kickstart a lifestyle change that can reduce it more. And, ultimately, a person who is not obese must surely look at lipo – which has received an uncomfortable measure of bad press – as a last resort.
Now, with the introduction of i-Lipo to SA, the movement against liposuction will certainly have gained momentum. Its developers say the new laser treatment is the simplest, fastest and safest way yet to target fat, and it’s pain free. I know the latter because I tested it at a demonstration of i-Lipo recently, and all it entails is having four “paddles” (icepack-sized pads) strapped to you for 20 minutes, 10 minutes on each side. Immediately afterwards your measurement is down – in my case, by an impressive 4cm around the waist.
Basically, the the i-Lipo machine, which is made and maintained in the UK by Chromogenex, uses a low level of laser light to “empty” the stored fat contents inside fat cells.
Its makers say the laser paddles, containing nine laser diodes each, emit laser beams that absorb into the individual fat cells in the treatment area, temporarily opening pores in the cell wall through which the cell contents can escape.
The contents of the fat cells – called triglycerides which, with the treatment, break down into fatty acids and glycerol – are released into the surrounding tissues, where they are collected by the lymphatic system and then metabolised into energy. The skin, blood vessels and peripheral nerves are not affected.
It is claimed that one’s metabolism permanently removes the fatty acids and glycerol from the body, leaving smaller fat cells and giving about a 2cm loss. Unlike CoolSculpting, which destroys fat cells by freezing them, the fat cells are still there, just empty and, therefore, taking up less space.
Exercise post treatment is recommended, to accelerate the removal of the fat from your body. Without the exercise, some of the fat will be taken up again, which will lessen your result.
In the long term, you need to couple this with an ongoing healthy lifestyle, or the cells just fill up again as you take in excess calories.
The other “rub” is that eight sessions of i-Lipo are advised – two a week over four weeks. A session costs R500, so you’re looking at a cost of R4 000. The average loss at the end shows up as between 7 to 10 percent in circumference measurements, with every treatment typically resulting in a 2cm to 4cm loss.
Again, diligent eating and good exercise within a few hours of each treatment is imperative if you’re looking for long-term results. The “quick fix” result after one session, meanwhile, is a psychological booster more than anything. Miami-based plastic surgeon Rian Maercks has noted that the immediate gratification of losing centimetres is a “very reinforcing stimulus with strong psychological benefits”.
“In my experience it encourages people who might not otherwise be motivated to stick to a healthy regimen of diet and exercise. It helps to go home and see a visibly different body,” he says. I can testify to this, and, two days after my treatment, my pants still feel looser.
I followed up with a second i-Lipo session a few days later at the i-Lipo clinic in Northcliff, and again there was a 4cm loss. It’s not enough to be noticeable, as my daughter noted in the brutal, candid way children do.
But, as Maercks observes, motivation is half the battle won in the weight loss game and as far as I’m concerned, I’ve gotten flatter.
The i-Lipo course can be performed on tummies, thighs, buttocks, arms, calves and chin, but, as with CoolSculpting, the best results are on people who aren’t too overweight but have pockets of fat they want to shift. I would guess its best application would be before a big event, like your wedding. But, try not to ruin it afterwards by plumping out those fat cells with honeymoon hedonism.
* To find your nearest salon visit the clinic finder at www.chromogenex.co.za or call 011 079 4242 or 073 366 8004.