What It's Really Like To Try Non-Surgical Fat Removal
"A few weeks after my final treatment, I was changing in the bathroom when I glanced in the mirror and did a double take."
There's probably one thing about your body that bugs you. For some people, it's their butt. For others, it's a double chin or breasts they deem to big or too small. For me, it's always been my belly.
It isn't huge, but it's there. And it always has been. I can't remember it ever being flat (maybe when I was eight?), and I can't recall a time when I didn't reflexively "suck it in" for a photo. And no matter how many times I've passed up the breadbasket over the years or crunched my way through an abs class, that persistent bit of pooch was always a constant.
And then I had kids. Two of them. And the stomach situation took a nosedive. Eventually, I built my core strength back with regular Pilates sessions and barre classes, but the belly fat perched on top refused to budge.
My stomach had stopped even pretending to try.
I've toyed with the idea of a tummy tuck, but a quick Google search confirmed it wasn't for me. As frustrating as the issue was to my self-esteem, it really wasn't nearly dire enough to risk surgery. I didn't need an overhaul—I just wanted to feel a little better in my jeans. And maybe not be offered a subway seat any time I wore an empire waist dress.
A few months back, I began to hear rumblings about a treatment called BTL Vanquish, which apparently used heat to melt fat and didn't hurt (unlike Coolsculpting, which I've heard can feel like you're being frozen to death. Because you practically are.). I did not need to hear more. I made an appointment to see what it was all about.
Vanquish, I would learn, the latest non-invasive treatments to treat excess fat around the abdomen area. (It is also approved for thighs.) Unlike Coolsculpting, Vanquish relies on heat. "It uses radiofrequency to target the fat layer of skin, causing apoptosis or cell death,". "The fat cells are then cleared naturally through lymphatic channels."
It is painless and requires a series of four, 45-minute treatments spaced one week apart. And oh yeah, it's permanent unlike coolscultpting which shrinks the fat cell only , whereas Vanquish destroys the fat cell. There will be no reincarnation. "Once you kill a fat cell, it's gone. This doesn't mean you now have a free pass to eat your way through life though. With fat reduction, the cells around it could get bigger,". "You have to maintain a healthy weight and lifestyle."
A typical result after four treatments with Vanquish. Note this is not me—my before/after shots are under lock and key.
And this health kick should actually start before your treatment. The best candidates for the procedure are people who are in decent shape with a bit of excess fat. "It's not really for super large volume reduction, but more for patients who need a little extra help in contouring or sculpting,". Loss of 2-4 inches from the waist line are common.
The only other real disqualifiers are having an implantable device such as a copper IUD or a hip replacement (they can disrupt the machine's energy) or deeper visceral fat versus the more superficial subcutaneous kind. "It's not penetrating below muscle", so any fat underneath the abs will not be changed, "You have to be able to pinch it."
Risks are minimal. "You may get an inflammation of the fat where it feels firm or tender or looks red, but this is temporary, "It's a super safe treatment." Depending on the area, you'll pay $500 to $750 for each of your four sessions.
Sold, I tugged up my shirt, My localized, subcutaneous fat was deemed perfect for the procedure (yay?), so we headed into the treatment room. I laid back on a chair that was reclined completely flat, while the nurse positioned the device over my belly. It's a sort-of semicircle-shaped panel that adjusts to contour around your body and sits approximately an inch or so away from your skin.
Here I am in the Vanquish machine.
So, what does it feel like? Imagine lounging with a heating pad on the low to medium setting or laying out in the sun on a warm (not hot) day. The heat is mild enough that I wouldn't even describe it as "hot." It's just a nice wash of warmth that feels pleasant. There is absolutely nothing remotely resembling pain or even discomfort.
The hardest part of the treatment by far is that you can't use your phone during it. "Because of the mechanics of the positive and negative electrodes, metal and signaling devices can disrupt or even break the machine.
I pretended it was ten years ago and I read a stack of magazines. You could easily nap, too.
When the 45 minutes was up, the nurse came back to perform a Cellutone treatment. This is a short, optional add-on that many doctors include to further enhance results. "Cellutone is way of mechanically massaging the injured cells to aid in their removal. "It smooths you out and has the added benefit of skin tightening." The noisy, handheld device looks and sounds medieval, and feels like eight minutes of an industrial eggbeater thumping on your belly. Weirdly, it felt good.
I came back and did it all over again the following week and for two more weeks after that. I had been told that people can start to notice results after the second treatment, but I really didn't. Even after the last one, I wasn't sure. I thought maybe something was different?
Then my waist felt kind of tighter? Maybe my stomach was smallerA typical result from Vanquish after four treatments.
A few weeks after my final treatment, I was changing in the bathroom when I glanced in the mirror and did a double take. My stomach was practically gone , and noticeably, undoubtedly different—and smaller.
It has been now six months since my last Vanquish treatment and I've maintained the results. (Even despite some serious post-election stress eating.)
I've become a bit selfish though. My tummy-fat isn't totally gone, so I'm considering another session or two.
Clinical trials have shown that you can get additional benefits from more treatments. But I'm happy. Very. My jeans fit better and I actually still get a pleasant little surprise every time I happen to catch myself changing in the mirror.