Many lifestyle factors contribute to the inability of an individual to lose their stubborn belly fat and to achieve the body aesthetics that they have always dreamed about. Despite the countless attempts of dieting and relentless efforts with intense exercise plans, improvements in physique may still be insignificant. Thus, many individuals look to body contouring techniques and/or plastic surgery as a solution for tackling their unwanted body fat. Over the course of the past ten years there has been a significant increase in people undergoing body contouring procedures, specifically the traditional tummy tuck surgery. Additionally, there have been new and emerging non-surgical techniques which target body fat as an alternative option.
The traditional procedure for removing unwanted fat in the abdominal area is the tummy tuck procedure, otherwise known as an abdominoplasty. This is often the recommended approach for patients that are seeking to shed excess body fat and abdominal skin which is sagging post-pregnancy or post-weight loss. It is a surgical process which eliminates the fat and skin from the middle and lower abdomen while tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall. A tummy tuck is a transformational procedure as it produces very dramatic results – up to 90% improvement in fat reduction for some patients. The surgical process itself lasts approximately two to four hours, depending on the patient and the amount of work required to achieve their aesthetic goals. It is important to remember that because this is a surgery, the concern of a significant, linear scar extending from hip-to-hip afterwards is an unavoidable component of the procedure.
A newly developed alternative to this traditional surgery by scientists from Harvard University is CoolSculpt technology. It is a non-invasive topical treatment for fat reduction that utilizes controlled cooling technology to target and freeze unwanted fat tissue. At 39 degrees Fahrenheit, the targeted fat cells crystallize, undergo cell death (necrosis), and then the body naturally eliminates the waste tissue in the following weeks to months. One session of the CoolSculpt procedure takes approximately an hour and patients have described a cold, numbing feeling that generally lasts about seven minutes. After undergoing a treatment, most patients report a noticeable reduction of fat at four weeks post-treatment although the best results are seen after two months. However, unlike a tummy tuck procedure, CoolSculpt can only cause a 30% decrease in fat after one session – better results can be achieved through additional treatment session of the same area. Therefore, CoolSculpt is most suited for patients that have small areas of fat that need to be targeted for reduction and no loose abdominal skin. The advantage of this new freezing technology is it requires little to no downtime for the patient, no anesthesia, involves no needles and no changes to daily schedules.
Both a tummy tuck surgery and CoolSculpt are viable, good options for fat reduction depending on the needs and desires of the patient. From a financial perspective, neither fat reduction method is covered by health insurance. A tummy tuck surgery costs at least $7000 CAD or more, while in contrast, CoolSculpt is more affordable and ranges from $3000-5000 CAD. Of course, the most appropriate procedure for a patient will be determined through a consultation meeting with our board certified plastic surgeons to discuss personal aesthetic goals.
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