As a former personal trainer, Sarah is passionate about all things health, beauty, and self care.
Weight loss is a process
Losing weight can be a challenging endeavor. Surprisingly, one of the most challenging milestones to overcome is getting rid of that last bit of stubborn fat that tends to accumulate in the most unflattering areas. For me, this area has always been a small pouch of fat on my lower abdomen.
Stubborn fat found in the lower abdomen and love handles are common, especially amongst women, though, there is a long list of other regions of the body that seem to be notorious for storing fat that seems to have a mind of its own.
Before I get into all the details, please keep in mind that having fat on your body is not only natural, but important for your health. Nevertheless, most of us do have some fat in one or the other area that we could happily live without.
In order to lose fat, there are several steps that need to be taken, including changes in one's diet, establishing an exercise regimen, and most importantly, consistency, which will make or break your progress. Once you have reached the point of having mastered these initial steps, you will likely approach that last milestone of shaping your body and targeting all the other areas that couldn’t be addressed using the above mentioned steps. While at this point, more targeted fitness regimens and exercises can and will help your progress, it can be very difficult, especially for people who either don’t have time or don’t know how to approach these exercises, to move forward. For me, this was the case, which is why I explored alternative options to help me reach my ultimate body goals by finally eliminating that stubborn fat in hard to reach areas, including several minimally and non-invasive cosmetic treatments.
Why I went for cosmetic treatments
Before I go into details about how I lost my belly pouch, I want to explain why I chose the cosmetic route over a more natural approach.
I was never really interested in cosmetic alterations, especially because I primarily considered them to be invasive and quite frankly, a little intimidating. Originally, I had looked into liposuction (mainly just out of curiosity) to see what it entailed and whether it would even be an option for me. As expected, the invasiveness of the whole thing turned me away, though my research did end up leading me to the discovery of less invasive cosmetic medicine including cryolipolysis, fat melting injections, mesolipo, and laser-lipo.
A quick disclaimer: there are two different types of “minimally invasive procedures,” including minimally invasive, and non-invasive options.
- Minimally invasive: does not require surgical intervention, but may involve puncturing the skin using a needle or a similar tool.
- Non-invasive: does not puncture the skin whatsoever, meaning that the medical tool used is strictly topical in the form of an applicator or something similar.
While I personally only tried cryolipolysis and fat melting injections, I will still go over the mesolipo and laser-lipo processes to give you a better understanding of how they work and what your options are in terms of eliminating stubborn fat. Below you will learn more about the four most common minimally invasive cosmetic treatments used to remove unwanted fat including:
Fat melting injections
The term cryolipolysis stems from the Greek roots cryo, meaning cold, lipo, meaning fat, and lysis, meaning dissolution. In short, cryolipolysis is a treatment that uses freezing technology to freeze your fat and permanently eliminate it. The procedure is non-invasive and based on my personal experience, surprisingly effective (though I was certainly skeptical at first).
- The process: Cryolipolysis starts with a gel pad that is placed on the treatment area (in my case, my abdomen). As explained by my physician, “The pad is used to protect your skin from the cold temperatures emitted by the applicator.” The pad is followed by the placement of a vacuum applicator, which, once turned on, sucks in your fat and gradually brings it down to its freezing temperature (-11° C). The whole thing takes about 35 minutes per applicator.
- The pain: While the cryolipolysis itself is mildly uncomfortable, the best way I can describe it is as a tugging and stinging sensation.
However, the pain did not exceed the time I spent at the clinic, and there was no downtime, meaning that I was able to continue with regular daily activities immediately after I left.
- Does it work?
There are some mixed reviews on the efficacy of fat freezing. Though, my personal experience showed successful results after two rounds.
If you do decide to take this route, keep in mind that it will take at least a month for you to start seeing the results, since your body needs some time to metabolize the dead fat cells.
Fat melting injections
Before you roll your eyes at the idea of melting away fat, hear me out. No, these injections don’t actually melt your fat. Instead, they work by breaking down your fat cells with the same chemical compound that can be found naturally in your digestive system: deoxycholic acid.
- The process: A synthetic version of deoxycholic acid (often called Kybella) is injected into the area of concern, breaking down the fat cells in the treated area.
- The pain: Kybella injections have been described as painful during the time of administration. When I got them done (for submandibular fat under my chin), I felt a lot of stinging throughout the duration of the injections. Afterwards the area was swollen for approximately one week and the pain had subsided after around four days.
- Does it work?
From personal experience, I was able to see results within three months, after a total of three rounds. Most providers will tell you that you will likely need more than one session for optimal results, and just like cryolipolysis, will have to wait at least a month for the dead fat cells to metabolize for this to happen. These injections are primarily used to destroy smaller areas of fat accumulation, which could make it a great option for you, if you are looking to get rid of those stubborn pouches of fat.
Similar to the fat melting injections mentioned above, mesolipo is a tool used to eliminate fat by injecting a mesotherapy solution designed to target fatty cells. Some of the ingredients used in this solution may include:
It seems like some people opt for this injection over the above mentioned Kybella injections, because it seems more natural, though I personally went for Kybella because it seemed to be more effective based on patient reviews. Both Kybella and mesolipo fall under the category of minimally invasive cosmetic treatments, as they do require injectables to puncture the skin.
The process: A custom-made mesotherapy solution is injected into the problem area to eliminate fat and tighten the skin.
- Skin tightening may be an added benefit when the concoction is injected via hollow needles in the form of microneedling, due to the minor damage that this causes to the skin, leading to collagen and elastin production to repair itself. The procedure is often used for skin tightening for that very reason.
- The pain: Mesotherapy can be very painful, though, your physician will likely provide you with some sort of numbing agent (typically a topical lidocaine cream) to ease the discomfort.
- Does it work?
While I can’t give you an answer based on personal experience, this study suggests that mesotherapy can be successful for fat elimination, though it does depend largely on the ingredients within the solution used, as well as the number of sessions carried out, since mesolipo is not a “one-and-done” type of procedure.
If you are using it as a tool to get rid of small pouches of stubborn fat, then it might be a safe option. Keep in mind, however, that you will likely need more than just one sitting to get the results that you want.
Last but not least is laser-lipo, a non-invasive laser treatment designed to destroy fat cells using heat. Once again, I can’t speak for myself with this method, since I personally have never tried it, though I will go over some details that I’ve gathered from personal research and feedback from friends that have tried it.
- The process: Laser-lipo works by gently heating underlying fat cells by targeting the adipose tissue in the treated area using a laser. This undertaking is called apoptosis, and can take approximately twelve weeks to fully take its course and kill off the underlying fat cells. The session itself can take 20 - 60 minutes and may only require a total of one sitting.
- The pain: Based on patient descriptions, you shouldn’t feel any pain during your laser-lipo session. Some clinics will offer you local anesthesia as well.
- Does it work?
After doing some research on the efficacy of laser-lipo, it seems like it can effectively be used as a non-invasive tool to eliminate unwanted fat and tighten the skin the area treated. However, it is primarily used on patients who are looking to eliminate smaller pouches of fat, like the stubborn fat we are all trying to get rid of, rather than patients who are obese.
How do I know which option is right for me?
The best way to find out which method is right for you, is to either try them for yourself, or to consult with a trained medical expert, who knows everything about how they work, and which option would best suit your individual needs.
We are all built differently, and what may work for one person, could be ineffective for the other.
As mentioned above, I was able to see amazing results after my experience with cryolipolysis, even though I have read about other patients being rather disappointed in their own results. It is also important to remember that the above mentioned options are only a few out of many other options that may help you get rid of your stubborn fat.
The bottom line is that before you move forward with anything, you should absolutely speak with a professional to get all the information needed to make an educated decision to achieve your best results.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.