It looks like the summer is finally here. But if you’re breaking out into a sweat at the thought of denim shorts, help is at hand, as there are a number of non-invasive body contouring treatments that claim to help you lose inches and tone up, all without hitting the gym.
With the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS) reporting a dip in liposuction (down 14 per cent) and male breast reduction surgery (down 18 per cent), is it really possible to cheat your way to a better body? Our testers find out.
What is it? This spider-shaped machine claims to stimulate fat cells through four painless lasers. Makers say it works by creating a small opening in the fat cell’s membrane through which the fatty material exits, allowing the cell to collapse to a smaller size. They say it can reduce spot fat by 9cm in two weeks.
What happens? The machine is positioned over my bottom and upper thighs and each buttock is treated for 15 minutes. I don’t feel a thing. The clinic suggests a course of Velopshape II after the Zerona to firm up the sagging skin. This uses radiofrequency, infrared light energy, vacuum and massage to increase lymphatic drainage. The combined session takes 90 minutes There’s no bruising or side effects.
Did it work? After six sessions, I lose 10cm off my saddlebags.
BAAPS says: ‘How lasers work in this context is not fully understood,’ says consultant plastic surgeon and British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons member Lucian Ion. ‘But past treatments for wound healing with similar wavelength suggest it may be a combined effect on water redistribution and fat cells.
3D-Lipo claims to reduce fat and cellulite. What is it? 3D-Lipo claims to use a mix of technologies to reduce fat and cellulite, and tighten skin.
What happens? A body-sculpting treatment that offers not just instant but long-lasting results sounds too good to be true… but I’m willing to try it on my thickest area – a post-birth abdomen, where fat cells have collected like a globular flash mob. First stage: low-frequency ultrasound applied with a massage instrument, which makers say breaks apart fat cells. Second stage: radio-frequency skin tightening, supposed to contract collagen fibres and stimulate new collagen and elastin. Last stage: a vacuum therapy to tighten skin. During 90 minutes, the only slight discomfort is a metallic ringing in the ears during the ultrasound.
Did it work? The results are unbelievable. Without scalpels, I’ve lost 5cm – and it should last at least nine months.
BAAPS says: ‘Cosmetic ultrasound technologies evolved from techniques used in destruction of tumours,’ says surgeon Lucian Ion. ‘There is evidence to suggest they also have a viable and measureable effect in cosmetic applications.’
Try it: £140 per session
Coolsculpting is aimed at slim people who can’t shift fat pinches
What is it? Coolsculpting claims to work by freezing fat cells, which are crystallised then metabolised by the immune system. The process, also known as cryolipolysis, was discovered when Harvard scientists saw children who ate ice lollies had dimpling in their cheeks from loss of fat. The hour-long treatment is for small bulges of fat, so is aimed at slim people who can’t shift fat pinches on the upper arms, stomach, back and inner thighs.
What happens? A curved machine, like a hoover extension, is placed on the fat just above my hip. My love handle is then sucked into it while I lie on my side. I can feel the cold and although it’s uncomfortable, it’s not unbearable. When the suction is turned off, I’m greeted with a red, ice-cold sausage-shaped lump of fat that my therapist painfully massages flat, causing me to feel light-headed and nauseous. For the following two weeks, the area feels bruised and tingles frequently but the skin is neither broken nor discoloured. Both love handles are totally numb for six weeks.
Did it work? They say the crystallised fat takes up to two months to shatter but I saw a change within one month. Now, two months on, my silhouette is smooth and my waist is far more defined from behind. I would suggest you do both sides in one sitting to ensure the machine is placed equally on each side. I had separate treatments and I’m not sure my trimmed-down back looks entirely symmetrical.
BAAPS says: ‘This suggests the fat cells are frozen but it is more likely to be a change in local tissue biology,’ says Ion. ‘Formal studies to compare with other techniques are lacking.’
Try it: From £800 per body area.
Med Contour uses low-frequency ultrasound to break down connective tissue
What it is? Med Contour uses low-frequency ultrasound and claims the sound waves warm and break down connective tissue so it is redistributed throughout the body. Toxins and fluids are drained through the lymphatic system.
What happens? I ask my therapist to target the hips and back. First, a vacuum-like device is used on the clavicle and pelvic areas to open the lymph glands. Then I lie on my front for the ultrasound massage. Each side of my torso is treated for half an hour before more vaccuuming to encourage lymphatic flow. I’m warned the ultrasound plates might get warm and the sciatic nerve can twinge while the hip area is being treated. The continual movement makes it feel like a hot massage but the sciatic nerve became a little uncomfortable.
Did it work? You are told to drink lots of water to help the lymphatic flow, which carries on even after treatment. My measurements shrank between appointments. In total, I lost 13.5cm.
BAAPS says: ‘It has been difficult to demonstrate that low frequency ultrasound can effectively disrupt fatty tissue,’ say Ion. ‘But it is conceivable it may destabilise some fat cells, as well as assist lymphatic drainage.
Try it: £149 per one-hour session.