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Cellulite, Stretch Marks and Flab, Oh My!

Twelve years ago, while pregnant with my first son, I was ecstatic! At 9 months along, my stomach was as smooth as ever. Regular walking and slathering myself with cocoa butter lotion, convinced me that I was my own skin guru. Unfortunately, my bubble burst one morning when I awoke to see a map of London streets had sprawled across my abdomen during the night. I cried for two days, in mourning of my bikini wearing days that were now gone. When my son arrived, as joyful as we were that he had ten toes and a healthy appetite, I was dismayed at how bad stretch marks looked when they are conspiring with saggy skin and cellulite. Back then it seemed that my only two options were a mystical crème claiming to smooth that cellulite into oblivion or a tummy tuck. The first I was more than skeptical about and the second just wasn’t practical, especially as my child bearing days weren’t done. Wow, have times changed! Now it isn’t so much a concern about being able to reduce cellulite, tighten skin, and reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, but an all-encompassing choice of how.

Choices, choices
Medispas and day spas alike are advertising across the country that they can re-sculpt your body. While cellulite reduction and body contouring isn’t a new concept, there are quite a few new non-invasive products that have appeared on the market recently challenging historical methods. Each one targets the problem in their own way, although the basic concept is relatively similar: a source of light, heat, cold, or motion causes the fat cells to release the fat molecules they are holding on to, send them off to the lymphatic drainage system and they are flushed out of your system. The fat cells deflate causing the cellulite to minimize due to the fat cells no longer pushing up against the collagen. A variation of the same energy source that was used also stimulates collagen production in the body that tightens the skin up and improves oxygenation or circulation. Let’s take a look at the technologies now available.

Cold Lasers
These devises use low level laser therapy to energize the fat cells and release their contents. This liquefies the fat to prepare it for excretion.

Vacuum & Massage
This pulls the tissue, stimulating oxygen flow and increasing circulation, which in turn improves the reabsorption of fat.

This uses a low frequency wave to heat the fat cells to induce “death” in them, causing the body to break them down into fatty acids.

These ultrasonic waves rupture the fat cells causing them to dissolve into the body.

Cold Therapy
The fat cells are frozen to a temperature so that they are permanently destroyed. The cells are slowly released over the following weeks.

Combination Machines
A number of devices are coming onto the market that combine technologies to work together. One combines radiofrequency with magnetic pulses. Others include electrical current with radiofrequency and infrared energies. Some seem to throw everything together and hope for the best.

Decision Time
All are non-invasive. All claim to be virtually pain free or manageable with minimal topical anesthetic. So, how do you choose which you want to use? When deciding which intriguing method to pursue, one should consider the length and frequency of the treatments, time until results are visible, long term potential, and risks. Each session time varies from as little as 20 minutes to as long as an hour. Some show results after 1 week and some could take up to 2 months. Those that do permanent damage to the fat cells tend to be more long term than others, but that is of course dependent upon a person’s commitment to maintaining their weight and a healthy lifestyle. Swelling, bruising, and redness are all common risks associated with these procedures. However, be sure to review the individual side effects and contraindications provided by the manufacturer.

After Care
Many of the manufacturers recommend some form of exercise or whole body vibration after the procedure in order to immediately speed up blood flow and stimulate lymphatic activity. Maybe Betty Boop really was on to something when she strapped herself into the Belt Weight Loss machine.

The best part about these methods is that in many states you don’t have to be a doctor or nurse to use one. Many states allow the use of these machines by a medical aesthetician, laser technician, or medical assistant, and some require a supervising physician. Of course you want to check with your own state before jumping on board to own one.

The Small Print
Once you have settled on a device to add to your repertoire of services, do your homework first. As with any new service, be sure that you receive the proper training. Each of these devices is different and requires new proficiency prior to setting yourself loose to remodel the world, one body at a time. Have your medical director in place if required. Also, check with your insurance provider to be sure they are going to cover these procedures. Not all companies have an open mind when new technology is introduced. If you already have laser services covered withinyour medispa, then you may only need minor changes to include this. If you have a day spa or salon, chances are good that if you’ve upgraded your menu to include body sculpting, your insurance may need an upgrade as well.


Written by: Susan Etter

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