The truth about cosmetic body sculpting and if it can give you a Kim Kardashian silhouette

With celebrities constantly showing off their perfect curves, we’ve become a society obsessed with our figures. It’s no wonder more and more women are turning to cosmetic procedures for a helping hand.

The real worry is when clients believe body sculpting treatments are a magic bullet for losing weight or a fast, easy route to a fabulous body. The truth is they’re neither. Take 90s supermodel Linda Evangelista, who recently shared heartbreaking social media posts revealing she had been “deformed" after having the fat-freezing treatment CoolSculpting.

This popular non-surgical procedure works by using extreme cold temperatures to reduce fat. Sadly, Linda suffered a serious complication known as paradoxical adipose hyperplasia (PAH) which causes the fat cells in the treatment site to grow larger rather than smaller.

PAH is not the fault of the practitioner or the clinic but due to the patient's biological response. It is unique to fat freezing, and extremely rare. Out of 1.5 million people who have had CoolSculpting, it seems just 67 people have reported this side effect.

But Linda’s story highlights the fact that every cosmetic treatment, be it Botox or just a quick lunchtime skin peel, is never ever risk free.

For the most part, non-invasive fat removal and body sculpting procedures have an excellent success and safety record. The most common side effects are bruising around the treatment area, and maybe some aching or tingling for a few weeks afterwards.

The biggest risk, however, is usually a patient’s expectations. Your body cannot look like Kim Kardashian’s if you don’t happen to be Kim Kardashian, and no amount of sculpting will change that.

But the good news is that if you choose the right procedure for your problem area, it can help eliminate that last annoying inch or two that dieting or exercise won’t tackle as well as tighten loose skin. Results won’t add up too much on the scale, but it's what's spilling over the top of your jeans or the bulges beneath your bra that counts.

If you’re thinking about having a body sculpting treatment, it’s vital to consult with a medically qualified practitioner. They will give honest advice about the most suitable treatment for you, taking into consideration your age, shape and whether your skin is in good enough quality to spring back after volume is removed. Body shaping treatments are designed to target stubborn fat deposits, so if you are overweight, it’s advisable to lose excess weight first (talk this over with your practitioner).

You also need to make sure you understand all the facts. In Linda’s case, she claims she was never made aware that PHA was a risk that could happen.

HOW DOES BODY SHAPING WORK?

From the face to your ankles, there’s a non-invasive body shaping treatment for almost every part of you – yes, even your vagina! Generally they all work the same way. A concentrated energy source – laser, ultrasound radio waves, radio frequency (or all three combined) or fat freezing – is aimed at fat cells, which causes the cell membranes to be punctured or destroyed.

Over the following weeks fat cells are eliminated naturally by the body. Some treatments will also boost collagen to tighten skin. At our clinic, the only non-surgical option we offer is Onda, as we have found this gives significant results for both skin tightening and fat removal. It uses a microwave technology which disrupts fat cells and tightens the skin at the same time. It is excellent for small, stubborn bulges and for treating loose tummy skin. For best results you need a course of four, two weeks apart. Cost: £1,200


WHAT ABOUT LIPOSUCTION?

I am not a huge fan of traditional liposuction, where cannulas are inserted to literally suck fat from the body. Many people don’t realise it is a major operation, requiring a hospital stay and a general anesthetic with all the associated risks. There is often significant swelling and bruising afterwards and recovery can be very painful. Skin irregularities are a common problem. Liposuction only removes the fat just under the skin, and rippling or lumps and bumps can occur, especially if the skin is not elastic enough to spring back after excess fat has been removed.

WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE?

Nowadays, there are much improved, safer versions of liposuction such as BodyTite. This takes place under local or sedation anaesthetic, and can be used on most parts of the body including upper arms, back fat, thighs and even under the chin.

During the procedure, a tiny incision is made in the treatment area and a small probe is inserted. Radiofrequency energy heats the tissues, which breaks down fat while also creating a significant tightening effect on the skin. Up to three litres of fat can be removed in just one session.

There is far less swelling and bruising afterwards compared to traditional surgery. There is generally a recovery period of three to seven days and compression garments need to be worn for up to six weeks afterwards. Best results are seen between three and six months when everything has settled and new collagen has formed to help tighten skin. Cost: from £2,000 per area

LESLEY'S CELEBRITY CASEBOOK

Like many women, former EastEnders actress Carol Harrison, piled on the weight around her tummy during the menopause. She had tried every diet going, did hundreds of sit-ups daily but just couldn’t shift her “meno-podge”.

After a thorough consultation, we advised Carole, 66, that she would be an ideal candidate for Bodytite. She had moderate skin laxity and was within 30 percent of her ideal weight. On the day of the treatment she was with us for around six hours and felt little discomfort. Two months later she popped back for a check up and was thrilled with the results.

She said: “I loved the fact that it could blitz my belly fat without any scary scalpels. I first noticed that my tummy was tighter and firmer about two weeks later. Then over the following weeks I was amazed to see I had lost the flab and my midriff was far more toned.

“Even now the results are improving but I still watch what I eat, cut out all the crap and exercise regularly, as this can improve results. I can even see my stomach muscles again, but even better will be able to fit in my LBD for Christmas without wearing Spanx."

For more information on Lesley and her team of doctors visit harleystreetskinclinic.com

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