Losing It: Part Three
Aside from absolute dedication to working out and a smarter diet, a head-to-toe weight-loss strategy can be tough to master. These high-tech, non-invasive treatments can help jump-start a new attitude to health and weight control. Yes, you can use these methods to get on the path to a stay-in-shape routine but if you don’t make a lifelong commitment to eating smarter and exercising regularly, the results will be short-lived.
“What am I — about a B or C cup by now?” Robert Craig (not his real name), a 51-year-old marketing executive, used to joke with his trainer about his “man boobs.” Despite his best efforts working out at the gym and dieting, he just couldn’t get rid of the excess fat on his chest. Breast (gynecomastia) development in males aged 18 to 65 is a fairly common occurrence that can be embarrassing and can prevent men from enjoying life to the fullest, says cosmetic surgeon Dr. Sean Brian Rice (www.doctorseanrice.com), who treats a lot of men with the condition. He explains that the causes are often linked to a hormonal imbalance in males who produce less testosterone or whose testosterone is converted into estrogen if they are on the chunky side. He adds that for the most part, we don’t know why men develop gynecomastia.
Craig researched developments in cosmetic surgery looking for a solution but found the options far too invasive. Traditionally, tumescent liposuction, the surgical treatment for gynecomastia, is invasive: the surgeon injects a solution directly into the fat to be removed, then a cannula (a small tube) inserted through a small incision is pushed and pulled to break up fat cells and draw them out of the body by suction. The procedure causes significant bruising, swelling and bleeding. Patients typically return to normal after one to two weeks, and a full recovery is made within a few months. Craig rejected this procedure. In the end, he chose Dr. Rice, the first plastic surgeon in Canada to offer a new method of water-assisted liposuction called Body-Jet, to get rid of the excess fatty tissue in his chest and, for good measure, his abdomen and love handles.
Body-Jet uses saline to dislodge fat for removal rather than the manual vacuuming motion. This means there is less damage to surrounding blood vessels and connective tissues remain intact. The fat and water is suctioned out, and the fat can be saved in a specialized container for re-injection into other areas like the face. Though the surgery can be performed with local anesthetic, Craig chose a general anesthetic because he was having three areas done. Rice used the Body-Jet technique in combination with SmartLipo, an FDA-approved laser that helps melt underlying fatty tissue. The combination of these two procedures means less bruising and swelling and a much quicker recovery time, says Rice. “I do a lot of men and use it for gynecomastia, the chest, love handles, central upper and lower abdomen, the neck and the inner thigh.”
Craig had the surgery on a Saturday and was back at work the following Monday. There was some discomfort, but an occasional acetaminophen was all he needed for pain relief. He wasn’t sore or swollen and had no bruising on his abdomen, very little on the chest and some, which took about three weeks to disappear, on the love handles. The most uncomfortable part of his recovery was wearing the required compression garment for two weeks, which is mandatory for all patients. “It’s very tight so fortunately no one knows if you’re wearing it under a shirt,” he adds.
Three weeks post-surgery, he saw a dermatologist for Synergie, a deep tissue massage treatment that uses vacuum and deep lymphatic drainage technology. “Synergie provides therapeutic stimulation and increases circulation in the area of treatment, which changes the appearance of connective tissues,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue Rd. in Toronto (www.dlkonavenue.com). “The result is tighter, smoother skin. It is also a very beneficial post-surgery procedure as it quickens recovery time and gives the skin structural support during healing.”
The big reward for Craig came during this past summer in Spain. “I had on a bathing suit for the whole summer and was glad to be in it,” he says. “Now some of the benefits of my exercising show a little more.” —CG
Non-invasive treatment update:
1. Full-Body Contouring
What Zerona, a non-surgical, laser slimming procedure, with no down time. Toronto-based SpaMedica Infinite Vitality Clinic was the first to offer it in Canada. Dr. Stephen Mulholland, director of the clinic, believes the procedure “mirrors natural weight loss and is the most effective, safest and easiest non-surgical fat loss and generalized slimming procedure available.” Starting from $1,999 for six treatments and one bottle of Curva supplement.
The Workup Prior to the first session, there is an assessment of your goals. Because this procedure promises to eliminate three inches (with up to nine inches being a fairly common outcome) in total from all over the body (you could lose a quarter inch from your hip, an eighth of an inch from your upper arm and so on), it is not recommended for those who are obese. To help the body eliminate any fat that’s melted away by the laser treatments, Mulholland recommends Curva vitamin supplements be taken twice daily for two weeks prior to the first appointment. Curva is high in the antioxidants found in green tea and niacin, a B vitamin that aids in the detoxification of fatty cells. The product can help the body metabolize fats and protein and can also improve circulation and reduce cholesterol. The downside is that high doses of niacin can cause a niacin flush — a brief yet acute redness and itchiness of the skin caused by the increased blood flow after taking the supplement — and, in the long-term extreme, can also lead to liver problems, so the dosage is limited.
The Procedure Six 40-minute treatments, spread over two weeks, with no more than 48 hours between appointments. After a weigh-in and measurements of the neck, upper arms, chest, waist, hips, upper thigh and knee circumferences, plus “before” photos, you lie on a bed under the targeted Zerona laser for 40 minutes — 20 on your back and 20 on your front. The five high-fluence, low-level cold laser beams (meaning there’s no risk of laser burn and no need for sticky cold gels) scan the body, targeting stubborn fat areas and “melt” the fat, which is eliminated via your body’s natural detoxification process: the liver and kidneys. (In 2009, the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery reported that the low-level laser caused the formation of transitory pores, which help evacuate the fat cells’ contents into the body’s detoxifying channels.)
The Verdict It did work, with one of our test drivers losing two to three inches (half an inch round the chest/bra line), provided there was 30 minutes of cardio three times a week, no coffee or alcohol and plenty of water. With this added discipline, Mulholland and his staff believe this is a good — and painless — way to kick-start or return to a healthier lifelong program of weight control. “It’s not invasive, completely painless and requires nothing more than a commitment to sustain through healthy living the inches you lose,” he says. www.spamedica.com. For locations: www.findzerona.com/search —Vivian Vassos
2. Spot Treatment
What UltraShape Contour I Version 3 with Vertical Dynamic Focus ultrasound technology and the new update of RFVac Radio Frequency with integrated vacuum system. Offered in Toronto by Dr. Sandy Skotnicki-Grant of the Bay Dermatology Centre. From $650 to $1,050 per treatment.
The Workup Prior to the first session, there is a brief consultation with one of the trained technicians. Areas such as the abdomen, outer and inner thighs are assessed as candidate target areas. “UltraShape’s latest advancements mean the ‘walk-in, walk-out’ treatment leaves no lumps or contour irregularities, unlike liposuction,” says Skotnicki-Grant. The non-invasive procedure promises a potential loss of between four and 10 centimetres (1.6 and 3.9 inches) in body circumference with three treatments, using a combination of targeted, non-thermal ultrasound and radio frequency with vacuum suction. Again, this treatment is not recommended for the obese; it is targeted at trouble spots as “muffin tops,” “saddlebags” and even “man boobs.”
The Procedure Three treatments over two to four weeks. After measurements and weight are taken, the target area is delineated with a marker to help focus the treatment. Then you lie on a bed, and the technician prepares or “frames” the target area by taping it. The vacuum-headed wand is first used over the skin to help bring the fat cells closer to the skin’s surface, then it is followed by high-intensity focused ultrasound waves, directed by a computerized fat-tracking system, pointing to the fat cells in the target area and disrupting them. A final sweep of the vacuum, and you’re done. The whole procedure takes about an hour, sometimes longer if the concentration of fat cells detected is high in the target zone. Fat cells are said to be eliminated through the metabolic pathways that eliminate fat when weight is lost.
The Verdict Although each individual case is different and the science promises no bruising, swelling or dis-
comfort, the vacuum procedure can be uncomfortable and feel like it’s pinching if your skin is sensitive. Also, if you’re prone to bruising, tend to take ibuprofen or drink a lot of green tea (both may have some anticoagulant effect), you will bruise. But it did work — one of our test drivers lost the minimum of four centimetres in the abdominal area. In the quest for keeping it off, however, our work is far from done. “The results,” says Skotnicki-Grant, “will last as long as the same lifestyle is maintained by the client.” www.baydermatologycentre.com.For clinics across Canada: www.ultrashape.com/find_a_clinic —VV
Consult your family physician before making any drastic changes to your diet or exercise plan.