Traditional liposuction requires an invasive procedure to remove fat from areas such as the abdomen, thighs, neck, and arms. But there's another way to achieve similar results, without surgery or even downtime. It's called "laser lipo," and it relies on laser energy instead of incisions to slim the body quickly and with minimal effort on the part of the patient. (Sometimes the term "laser lipo" is used to describe conventional surgical liposuction that incorporates lasers to enhance the results, but that's not how we're using it here.)
We asked Heather of Advanced Laser Body Care in Chicago to help us understand how exactly the treatment works.
How does laser lipo work?
Unlike conventional liposuction, the idea of laser lipo is not to remove fat cells—it's to shrink them.
During each session of i Lipo—the brand of laser-lipo device Advanced Laser Body Care uses—a
technician places pads equipped with laser diodes directly onto the skin, allowing the laser energy
to penetrate the fat cells and temporarily perforate their membranes. This causes the fat cells to
release their stored fatty acids, glycerol, and water into the body and then shrink, potentially
resulting in lost inches. The body then flushes out the expelled fat-cell contents via the lymphatic
system or burns them for energy.
"Think of your fat cells as groups of juicy grapes," says Heather. "The laser beam reaches the fat cell
and shrinks the contents, and those grapes become raisins."
Who's eligible for laser lipo?
The pool of ideal candidates for laser lipo is a little bit smaller than for traditional lipo because the
procedure isn't perfect for extensive weight loss. It might be right for you if you're:
- Only about 2 stone over your ideal weight
- More concerned with "problem areas" than total-body weight loss
- In good health with good skin elasticity
Still not sure? Make sure to schedule a consultation!
What is the laser lipo process like?
"You're gonna be very relaxed," says Heather. "We're gonna put you in a nice little cocoon, which helps speed up that metabolic process."
From there, technician applies the pads to the targeted area, inundating it with laser energy for about 10 to 20 minutes. If necessary they may then move the pads to focus on another area and repeat the treatment. And... that's about it. You may see a difference immediately, but for best results you'll need to return.
Here are some fast facts about the recommended cycle:
Though some clients begin to notice results after only a few sessions, most require 6–8 treatments to see maximum results.
Two treatments per week for four weeks are recommended.
Because the treatment is not invasive, no downtime is required.
How much does laser lipo cost?
The cost of laser lipo can vary considerably depending on the size of the area you want to treat, as well as your location and the experience of the clinic you visit. A typical series of 8 sessions can easily cost upwards of £1,500. However, look for Groupon deals on laser weight-loss treatments, which can cut costs dramatically.
i-Lipo vs. Zerona
There are many trade names for various laser body-contouring treatments, and discussing them can get confusing since those names are sometimes (incorrectly) used interchangeably. Two popular laser devices, the i-Lipo and the Zerona, both use low-level laser energy in their nonsurgical lipo treatments, but they're not quite identical. The i-Lipo device contains more than 30 laser diodes, and it's applied directly to the skin in the form of pads. By contrast, the Zerona device hovers just above the skin and uses just 5 diodes. Some believe this difference makes Zerona more comfortable but the i-Lipo more effective. There's far from a consensus on this matter, though.
What areas can be treated with laser lipo?
All parts of the body that store fat can be treated.
The most common treatment areas include:
- under the chin
How long do laser lipo results last?
Because i-Lipo does not destroy fat cells but rather empties them of their contents, the fat cells are capable of storing fat again. A balanced diet is the only way to ensure lasting results.
"When you're at home we want you to make some good dietary choices," says Heather.
"[Eat] lean protein. Stay away from alcoholic beverages and sugar." Those who take in more calories than they burn will see their improvement start to decrease over time.