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How to.... choose the right body contouring treatment

Our must read guide to the latest, greatest body contouring treatments for sculpting and contouring

The number of us booking body contouring treatments globally has quadrupled since 2012, according to a report from the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. And with lockdown restrictions easing across the UK, we predict this number is likely to increase again.

Body contouring is an umbrella term that includes a variety of different treatments, allowing you to safely achieve a more toned, shapely body over multiple sessions. 

Mostly non-invasive or minimally invasive, they include fat-dissolving and skin-tightening procedures such as CoolSculpting, which makes use of a procedure known as cryolipolysis. This works by suctioning skin and cooling it to a freezing temperature, thus reducing it by up to 25 per cent.

As one of the fastest growing categories in aesthetics, non-surgical fat-reduction procedures are currently booming, partly because they are designed to support active, healthy lifestyles, rather than replace them. This holistic approach means results are likely to be more long-lasting.

Emsculpt is a case in point. Perfect for strengthening abdominals and complementing an exercise regime, it uses high-intensity focused electromagnetic energy to trigger muscle contractions that cannot be achieved by voluntary muscle action.

Meanwhile, treatments like SculpSure use heat to kill fat cells via a laser – like CoolSculpting, it takes around three months to see maximum results.

“This is a great time to book body contouring treatments as we are not only getting ready for summer, but also preparing to get back to 'normal' life and socialising with other people again,” says EV Expert Dr Vincent Wong.

“Most of us have been unable to exercise normally over lockdown, so body contouring treatments can help give us that boost of confidence and motivate us to get back to our usual routine pre-lockdown.”

Who is a candidate for body contouring?

“Body contouring procedures are non-surgical treatments that can help tone the body and achieve a better shape,” explains aesthetic physician EV Expert Dr Bhavjit Kaur, Co-Founder of London's Health & Aesthetic Clinic. “Many people choose non-surgical treatments as the procedures are comfortable, the sessions are short, and there is little to no downtime.”

You should expect to undergo a few sessions, however. “Non-invasive treatments mostly involve multiple sessions,” says Dr Kaur. “They not only help to get rid of stubborn pockets of fat to sculpt, augment and improve the shape and silhouette of the body, but they can also help to temporarily improve the tightness and appearance of the skin, along with improved muscle toning.”

Body contouring is best suited to healthy adults who are able to combine their treatment of choice with a diet and fitness plan. The ideal patient profile is someone close to their weight goal.

“These treatments are for someone who has tried everything, but maybe they have some stubborn fat that does not move or perhaps after their weight loss, or pregnancy, they’re left with some loose skin or dips (like hip dip),” Dr Kaur says. “I’d also recommend body contouring treatments for clients who don’t want the downtime or risks of an invasive procedure like liposuction or surgery.”

What should you ask your doctor beforehand?

“Always double check your doctor's qualifications to ensure that you are in safe hands,” says Dr Kaur. “Never feel awkward to ask about their experience, the technology (if applicable), patient feedback, success rate and before/after images. The initial consultation is a crucial part of the journey, so be sure to communicate your aesthetics goals clearly to your doctor and ask if the treatment is right for you.”

It’s very important that the treatment plan is co-created by you and your doctor, so feel free to ask lots of questions and include your feedback on their ideas. “Remember to also ask about products used, pricing, longevity of results, downtime and side effects,” Dr Kaur advises.

Treatments should always be guided by your specific needs so ensure that your plan feels tailor-made. “Don’t feel uncomfortable asking your doctor to explain why a treatment will address your concerns, if that’s not clear,” she suggests. “Ask what products will be used in each area, and make sure they have explained what can realistically be achieved and how long the results will last.”

Our experts have chosen three must-try treatments – each one has minimal downtime, no risk of scarring or infection, and results that, when properly administered, can rival that of more invasive surgery.


How does it work? 
HIFU (High Intensity Focussed Ultrasound) delivers ultrasound energy to fat layers under the skin to destroy fat cells. A quick treatment with no downtime, it is non-invasive and pain levels are tolerable.  

 “The heat energy also helps with collagen production and regeneration in the skin, so the area appears tighter and lifted,” explains Dr Wong. “It can be used on the abdomen, arms, thighs, knees and buttocks.”

“HIFU disrupts the subcutaneous fat cells without damaging the skin,” adds Dr Kaur. “The energy is delivered across the skin surface at a moderately minimal intensity, but this energy becomes focused in the subcutaneous fat resulting in adipose tissue disruption.”

Who is it for?
Dr Wong suggests HIFU is ideal as a post-pregnancy treatment, and for those of us with small areas of fat who’d like to see skin tightening and lifting at the same time as fat removal.

“It can be used on smaller pockets of fat, such as double chins or inner thigh fat,” explains Dr Kaur. “Often only one treatment is needed and some results can be seen almost immediately after treatment, though they continue to develop.”


How does it work?
An affordable and highly effective, targeted treatment, Aqualyx is a gel-based solution that's injected into fat layers.

“An injectable aqueous buffer system with a modified cholanic acid compound,  Aqualyx alters the surface tension of the fat cell membrane and increases the permeability of the membrane,” says Dr Kaur. “This is then followed by the application of an ultrasound device, which causes the movement of liquids both inside and outside the fat cells. As a result the fat cells start to balloon and break up.”

Micro droplets of fatty liquid leaks into the body, which are then metabolised through the lymphatic system and excreted.

“Aqualyx works well on double chins, jowls, upper arms, hips, buttocks, and the abdomen,” Dr Kaur explains. “It is almost painless, although some people feel a slight stinging sensation for a few seconds after being injected. Lidocaine is mixed in the solution for pain relief.”
Who is it for?
“It’s ideal for those with 'stubborn areas' of fat and those wanting to achieve their ideal body curves,” says Dr Wong.  “The changes are gradual, so it allows the skin to adapt as well.”

“Expect some slight stinging or burning sensations and/or slight swelling for 1-3 days after treatment, and the area may be  swollen or bruised for up to two weeks,” warns Dr Kaur. “The results are visible within two weeks and it also provides some skin tightening.”


How does it work?
A medical device for muscle strengthening, toning and sculpting – particularly the abs, glutes, hamstrings and thighs, as well as calves, back, arms and pelvic floor – TeslaFormer uses Functional Magnetic Stimulation (FMS) to contract targeted muscles.

“The FMS is used to deliver strong magnetic energy to the peripheral nerves to stimulate muscle contraction,” Dr Wong explains. “It allows muscles to achieve strong contractions (up to 100 per cent contraction) that cannot be achieved with regular exercise (approximately 40 per cent contraction).”

Unlike electrical muscle stimulation (EMS), FMS is more comfortable and doesn’t require direct contact to the skin, as it uses magnetic waves instead. It reaches the deeper layers of the muscles, which EMS cannot.  

Who is it for?
“It's ideal for those that want to build muscle and burn fat locally – clients often request it to create a six-pack or to reshape and contour their buttocks,” says Dr Wong. “It’s also great for anyone who wants to build general muscle strength and those with urinary incontinence.”

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