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 in Sandton 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.
PLUMPING UP YOUR SEX ORGANS
Carboxytherapy, which entails carbon dioxide being administered to the cutaneous and subcutaneous layers of the skin and is normally used to treat stretch marks, cellulite, and scars – or to simply boost your skin’s health, is now being used to rejuvenate the sexual organs of both men and women.
The treatment programme for men involves six to 10 weekly treatments whereby Carboxytherapy – micro-injections of carbon dioxide gas – is used to stimulate the production of new capillaries in the penis, which purportedly improves circulation and blood supply. For women, the treatment is similarly used, aimed to increase circulation and production of new capillaries in the vaginal tissues and labia.
Reported results for men include improved cosmetic appearance as tissues regain plumpness, improved strength and size due to improved circulation and improved sensation. For women, they include improved cosmetic appearance – the labia are plumped up – and improved sensation to the area.
The Skin-Body Renewal clinics, where the treatment is called 3D female/male rejuvenation, have seen a small but steady flow of people wanting Carboxytherapy targeting their genitalia.
Owing to the sensitive nature of the programme, the treatments are performed by a medical doctor. The treatment schedule involves an initial consultation and possibly blood tests. In men, this is important as erectile dysfunction is a primary indicator of cardiovascular disease, and as such would need to be referred on.
“Life’s stresses take their toll on sexual performance,” says Dr Debbie Norval from the Body Renewal clinic. “There’s an increased demand for help in this area. Sexual dysfunction affects 30 to 50 percent of women today, and can be attributed to low sexual desire, finding it difficult to get aroused or have an orgasm, experiencing pain during intercourse, or to various medications, chronic diseases or ageing. In menopausal women, fewer sexual hormones are produced which results in atrophy or degradation of the tissues around the perineum, as well as a loss of function, tissue turgor (crepey/flacid), sensation and response to stimulus.
“Carboxytherapy replenishes the blood supply to restore the function of these tissues.”
Is it painful? “No. You feel a tiny prick, like that of an acupuncture needle, and the sensation is more discomfort than anything else,” says Norval.
A 3D male/female rejuvenation session takes between half-an-hour to an hour, and costs R750.