What is Sculpsure?
Sculpsure is a non-invasive method to reduce fat in specific areas. It has been FDA approved since 2015. This is in contrast to invasive techniques such as the various forms of liposuction or a tummy tuck. There is no magic. Like all techniques and tools that seek to improve our appearance or our health, it is important to understand what it can and cannot do.
How Does Sculpsure Work?
4 Paddles are placed on the skin and secured in place with a belt. We cool the paddles for your comfort so that you do not feel the heat too intensely. I have read some blogs by other centers, saying that you do not feel the heat. That is simply not true. You will feel it. However, we use cooling to make you more comfortable. We also have the option for you to use our Nitronox system (also made by Cynosure). Nitronox delivers nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to make the treatments even easier. If you use the laughing gas you can drive home yourself after the treatment. This is because it wears off rapidly.
The paddles contain a laser which emits the 1060 nm wavelength. This wavelength was selected because it has a much higher absorption by fat cells. The laser damages the membrane of the fat cell and the fat cell dies. The fat that is released is safely resorbed by the body.
SculpSure targets the fat that lies 1 to 1.5 centimeters under the skin. This allows the fat to dissolve in an area that is not expected to affect the skin. This also explains why this technique (nor any other technique) cannot affect the internal or visceral fat. Visceral fat lies much deeper (behind the abdominal muscle wall. Incidentally this area also, cannot be treated by liposuction)
The treatment of an anatomical area takes approximately 25 minutes and usually involves the placement of the 4 paddles.
There is minimal absorption of heat in the dermis (skin). Most of the heat is directed towards the fat which lies below the skin. This means that regardless of your skin color, you are a candidate for Sculpsure treatments. This is not the case for most other laser treatments where your skin color is very important for which treatments you can safely receive.
You are not expected to see results right away, most results are seen within 12 weeks.
Over time, the body naturally eliminates the disrupted fat cells. Results can be seen as quickly as 6 weeks. However, optimal results are usually seen in as few as 12 weeks. You will not see any change in your urine or stools, as the fat is broken down by your body.
How Many Treatments do I Need?
A number of treatments are recommended by the manufacturer. I insist on my patients signing up for 2 treatments, usually spaced 4-6 weeks apart. This is in order to maximize your chance of seeing an effect. Some patients will decide to do further sessions. To clarify, you must treat each anatomical area at least twice. However, you can also treat multiple areas on the same day. This can be done by doing multiple 25 minutes sessions, back to back. For example, you could put 4 paddles on your abdomen for treatment. You can then immediately put 4 paddles on your love handles. After that put 4 paddles across your bra line. You would then re-treat these exact same areas, usually 6 weeks later.
Fat reduction is NOT the same as weight loss. According to SculpSure’s website, “The number of fat cells stored in our bodies typically remain constant throughout adult life. After the SculpSure treatment, the destroyed fat cells will not return. However, when we lose weight, the size of fat cells become smaller, but typically do not decrease in number.”
Cynosure has stated that studies show up to a 24% reduction of the fat in the treated area. I emphasize that no doubt these studies show a bell curve result, which means that some people may get more or less, than these results.
Is Sculpsure For Me?
Sculpsure is ideal for people with trouble spots such as the love handles. It can help reduce fat in those areas that are resistant to diet and exercise. I think it’s a great tool to help you stay on a diet that is designed to also reduce your body fat. (See my blogs on intermittent fasting and the ketone supplement. I personally use these supplements). It can work synergistically with your diet to help you look better. I strongly encourage all of my patients to modify their diets, in order to maximize their improvement.
SculpSure is an option for patients who aren’t interested in surgical intervention, costs, scars and recovery time associated with more invasive procedures. Doing a Sculpsure treatment now does not preclude doing something more invasive at a later date.
Does Sculpsure remove cellulite?
Sculpsure is not FDA approved to remove cellulite and will NOT help cellulite. If you want to treat cellulite consider CellulaZe. Cellulaze uses a laser made by Cynosure to reduce cellulite. Unfortunately, nothing can get rid of cellulite. I strongly suspect devices such as fascial blasters and rollers, are a complete waste of time and money.
Sculpsure Side Effects
There do not appear to be any serious side effects reported with Sculpsure (in contrast to Coolsculpting)
Typical side effects may include:
- Slight swelling, tingling, redness, or tenderness may occur after your sessions
- Treatments may produce a range of no soreness to mild or moderate soreness for a few days to about a week
- May cause more swelling in the thighs than the abdomen.
- It is normal for people to find some areas more sensitive than others. For example, my wife found her knees were more sensitive than her flanks. This is one of the reasons I bought the Nitronox system. I want you to be reasonably comfortable during your sessions.
In my office, the treatments are carried out by my master estheticians. The system is exceptionally safe and easy to use. All 4 corners of each paddle must make and maintain contact with your skin or an alarm will go off and the machine will shut itself off if this is not corrected.
What Areas Can be Treated?
You can treat any area that you can secure the paddle. It is not, however, recommended to do this directly over a scar. Also, you can only treat an area that has some fat. Sculpsure will NOT give you a six-pack. As mentioned, it cannot affect visceral fat, as it only penetrates into the subcutaneous fat. It is safe to have Sculpsure treatments, even if you have had joint replacements. I had a hip replacement and safely treated my love handles.
How many treatments will I need?
As mentioned above, I recommend you to do at least 2 sessions. I will not sell a single session, except for people who are traveling through the area who are planning on getting further sessions where they live.
What should I expect during the treatment?
You will definitely feel the heat but it should be very tolerable. Once again, if the cold air that we blow on the area is not enough, you should consider also using our Nitronox system. The technician can make the paddles go cold (instead of hot) giving you a minute break during the treatment session. If you have 4 such breaks the treatment will still be effective. I took one cool break during each of my two sessions. I could have lasted without it, but it was a welcome break.
When will I see results?
Most people will start to see changes at 6 weeks which is why we recommend doing the second session at about 6 weeks. You will continue to improve for about 12 weeks after your last session.
How Long Will The Results Last?
If you keep your weight the same (actually if you keep your % of body fat the same) then the results should last forever. However, if you put on body fat by poor eating, then your remaining fat cells can get larger, making your look fuller. Conversely, if you decrease your body fat, you will enhance the results.
When Can I Resume Normal Activities?
When I did my two sessions on my love handles, shortly after we bought the Sculpsure laser, a few years ago, I was the last patient of the day. I went straight to the gym and immediately worked out with no problem. Some patients have said they are mildly sore the next day, but that was not my personal experience.
Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss?
Fat loss is exactly what it says: There is a decrease in total body fat, usually due to better eating or increased activity or both. Weight loss means that your weight has decreased which could be due to less fat or less muscle in your body. Of course, it is preferred if it is due to the former and not the latter.
SculpSure vs. Coolsculpting
Coolsculpting was the first to market a non-invasive way to reduce fat. They have a huge advertising budget and therefore much greater name recognition. I could have bought the Coolsculpting system, but I feel there are far more side-effects with Coolsculpting. Some of these side effects are quite significant, such as nerve damage requiring Gabapentin, unevenness, Paradoxical Adipose Hyperplasia and poor results. There do not appear to be any serious side effects with Sculpsure which uses heat, rather than freezing to decrease fat. I could have bought either machine because, at the time, they were both priced the same. I felt Sculpsure was a far better and safe option.