Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed in the US. However, many patients who are interested in the procedure have anxiety about undergoing anesthesia, or they want the shortest downtime possible with the best result available. Many new techniques promise this exact unrealistic scenario.

The latest is Zeltiq, a device applied to targeted areas of excess fat while the patient is awake in a doctor’s office. It cools the skin and the fat for about an hour in each section. The abdomen can require four different applications in different areas to cover the entire tummy. It takes about three months to see the final result. Many patients choose to have repeated treatments in the same area to obtain the best result. Each area costs several hundred dollars.

The before and after pictures that are currently being publicized show about a 20% reduction in the fat compared to what I obtain with standard super wet liposuction. There is also no ability to sculpt or shape like I can with a liposuction tube.

I understand the desire for less invasive procedures and less downtime, but I also think it is important to seek out procedures that provide a result that is worth the time and financial investment required. If you are the rare patient who has one very small area with a modest increased deposit of fat, it might be worth looking into. Most of my patients, however, have multiple areas they want treated in one sitting, and then they want to move on with their lives. I don’t think this treatment will apply to many patients, and I am concerned that their expectations will not be met.

Most doctors providing this treatment are not board certified plastic surgeons. Those of us who are plastic surgeons feel we have better tools to provide more complete results. As always, make sure any physician you are considering for a cosmetic procedure is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

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