Body sculpting, made popular by celebrities like the Kardashians, has risen in popularity in recent years. Some of these treatments claim to literally kill fat cells (apoptosis) so your body loses fat and looks slimmer. But do body sculpting treatments really get rid of fat?
Yes, body sculpting gets rid of fat cells and reduces the appearance of fat on targeted areas of the body. Whether using heat, cooling, or ultrasound, body sculpting treatments kill fat cells that are then excreted over the next couple of months, which is when you’ll see full results.
Body sculpting actually kills or shrinks the fat cells in the targeted areas. The cells that are killed are gone forever and won’t grow back. It is still possible to see fat in those areas again, however, like if you gain weight through unhealthy diet or lack of exercise. The fat cells that are still present in that area, the shrunk cells, will expand in size, even though those fat cells that were killed won’t come back.
Body sculpting treatment is not a major weight loss treatment. It’s best for those within a few pounds of their goal weight who maintain a healthy lifestyle through diet and exercise. Body sculpting is best used to get rid of stubborn fat that can’t be reduced through exercise.
Let’s break down the different body sculpting treatments.
This FDA-approved treatment, also known as cryolipolysis, freezes the fat cells in an area of your choice. Once the fat cells are frozen, they die and are excreted by your body naturally over the course of a few months. Many patients who undergo CoolSculpting see a reduction in fat in the targeted area in the months following the recommended two treatments. The results are permanent as long as your weight is maintained.
CoolSculpting can be used on most body parts, so if you wish to target multiple areas at once this is a great option. Treatment on a single area only takes about 30 minutes. CoolSculpting is also an FDA-certified treatment that targets the double chin!
If you’re sensitive to cold temperatures due to an existing medical condition, CoolSculpting might not be for you. Some individuals reported minor pain or short-term side effects after the treatment. A very rare side effect (less than 1%) can occur where extra fat grows in the area that was treated and must be surgically removed.
Rather than using cold, WarmSculpting uses heat from lasers to kill fat cells. It has the same general process—fat cells are targeted, killed, and slowly excreted by the body. It is also FDA approved for certain areas of the body. Over the course of the few months after your treatments, you’ll see a reduction in fat in the targeted area.
WarmSculpting is ideal for people who have small areas of stubborn fat but otherwise are in good physical condition. The results are also permanent as long as the patient maintains their weight and physical health.
The shape of the device makes it hard to use on curved body parts, so it’s a little more limited than other options. Some patients report feeling a slight burning sensation due to the heat, although the device does have cooling on during the treatment.
Body FX treatment uses radio-frequency energy and lasers to reduce fat cells and stimulate collagen growth. This new collagen growth tightens your skin and can reduce the appearance of cellulite, a major win! In six months, most patients see a difference in skin tightness and fat amount.
One of the major benefits of Body FX is that it simultaneously targets fat cells and tightens the skin. Most other body sculpting treatments only kill fat cells, so this is a great option if you would like to tighten loose or sagging skin in addition to getting rid of fat cells and minimizing cellulite.
Some minor side effects, such as redness, swelling and itching, may be experienced the first few days after your treatment. They should go away on their own in a few days. In addition, the results may take longer to appear than other treatments—full results may appear six months after the final treatment.
Emsculpt offers similar results to other body sculpting treatments, but with a different technique and focus. Emsculpt doesn’t set out to kill fat cells—rather, it strongly contracts your muscles extremely fast, more than you ever could by doing an ab workout. Fat is reduced as a result of that extreme muscle strengthening and building. Don’t think of this as a substitute for exercise—think of it as an additional exercise to get you over the top results.
The results of Emsculpt are similar to that of other body sculpting procedures, except muscle is built during the procedure as well, so you will most likely feel stronger as a result. You’ll most likely see more defined abs or a lifted butt. This device is FDA approved to treat abs, butt, arms (triceps & biceps) and calves.
Emsculpt is ideal for those who are looking to primarily build muscle, not just reduce fat. This treatment will show more defined abs and a more lifted butt, as well as defined, tighter arms and calves, which is desired by many patients.
Emsculpt won’t reduce large amounts of fat, so if that’s your primary goal Emsculpt might not be for you. Some patients say the vibrations or contracts are slightly uncomfortable.
UltraShape works to target fat cells by using ultrasound energy. That energy kills fat cells so your body can excrete them like it would any other natural fat. It’s also FDA approved. Most patients see noticeable results after the recommended three treatment cycle, with full results seen a few months after the final treatment.
In a clinical study, 100% of patients said UltraShape was comfortable, which differentiates it from other body sculpting treatments that can be mildly painful or uncomfortable. The treatment also has no side effects after the treatment, such as redness or bruising.
UltraShape is only certified to be used on the abdomen and stomach area, so it’s limited in terms of what fat it can target. The procedure also takes longer than other treatments—up to an hour long.