What About Those Love Handles? Cosmetic Surgery to Prepare for the Holidays

Have you ever been twisting and turning in front of the mirror to get a better look at those pesky love handles on your side, trying to determine if they are as big of a problem as you think they are? You certainly aren’t alone. Muffin tops, bra bulges, arm flab – some pockets of fat can be stubbornly persistent, even if you eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. With the holidays approaching and the inevitable corresponding uptick in calories, you might have additional anxiety about those love handles. What can you do?

Read on to learn how you can have your love handles removed with innovative fat removal and skin tightening solutions. If you live in Tennessee, schedule a consultation with double board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. John Rosdeutscher at the NuBody Concepts cosmetic surgery practice in Nashville, or award-winning board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark Peters of NuBody Concepts Memphis.

Love Handle Removal with Liposuction

To remove or rather reduce love handles, liposuction would be the first fix that comes to mind. It does an amazing job breaking down fat cells and removing them from the body – permanently. But liposuction, whether it’s power-based, or water-based like Aqualipo, or via laser, is not so effective on very small areas of fat, like those love handles. A plastic surgeon might use it on a large area like the upper and/or lower abdomen, or maybe arms and thighs, and get a remarkable volume reduction. But for smaller areas, or for patients with less fat to begin with, liposuction alone would likely achieve unsatisfactory results.

Liposuction before and after of NuBody Concepts patient
Female patient in her 20s who had Liposuction on her abdomen. Surgeon: Dr. Rosdeutscher. View Gallery.

In addition, liposuction has another shortcoming: When having fat removed from under the skin, the patient – especially a patient who has lost a large amount of weight, or one who is older with diminished skin elasticity – is often left with folds of extra skin. While it’s nice to have a flatter stomach than before, it’s not enough to show it off in a bikini if the skin is flabby and wrinkly.

Best Love Handle Removal: Adding Radio Frequency Assisted Skin Tightening to Liposuction

This is where radio frequency assisted lipolysis (RFAL) comes in, a technology that contracts tissues. It is more commonly known as skin tightening, or even a non-surgical tummy tuck, non-surgical facelift, or non-surgical neck lift. RFAL is a relatively new technology marketed as either BodyTite, FaceTite, or Renuvion. It is minimally-invasive, not surgical. This means that the surgeon does go under the skin (or it would be non-invasive), but he or she does so with a very thin wand or cannula, in strategically-placed intervals. The resulting incisions are so small that they often heal without stitches, though some doctors like to place a single stitch for even faster healing.

BodyTite and Renuvion are typically performed in combination with liposuction. To remove those unsightly love handles you so much hated seeing in that mirror earlier, the plastic surgeon would first apply numbing to your skin where he wants to insert the cannula. He would then “wet” the entire treatment area by pumping a saline solution laced with lidocaine (a local anesthetic) through the canula and moving it around under the skin. Once everything is sufficiently numbed, he would use the same cannula to suction off fat. This is the liposuction part. While we have said before that liposuction alone would yield poor results, we also don’t want to leave it out entirely. It would be a waste to not remove every bit of fat you can while you have the area prepared, and it’s easily and quickly accomplished.

Following the liposuction, the surgeon simply switches to the BodyTite or Renuvion wand, inserts it through the same incisions, and slowly but steadily passes it over every inch of the treatment area once again. The radio frequency energy targets the subdermal tissues and contracts or “coagulates” them. This essentially shrinks the skin.

What Results Can I Expect from Skin Tightening

It is important to know that the results are not always immediate after skin tightening, or at least not the full results. You’ll see an immediate improvement afterwards, but the skin contraction will continue over time, meaning your results will steadily improve 6-9 months longer, sometimes even up to 12 months. What you’re looking for is not only a fat reduction triggered by both liposuction and RFAL, it is also an improvement in skin laxity. Most patients see 40% firmer, more toned results compared to regular liposuction alone.

BodyTite before and after picture of NuBody Concepts patient
Female patient who had BodyTite on abdomen and flanks. Surgeon: Dr. Peters. View Gallery.

Overall, studies have shown that skin tightening using RFAL can achieve 35% to 60% skin contraction. It can be used almost anywhere on the body, which makes it a very versatile technology. It also makes it a great alternative to surgical procedures such as tummy tuck, arm lift, thigh lift, or facelift. A patient can achieve almost surgical-like results without the downtime, the scars, and potential complications associated with excisional surgery. What’s not to like about that?

Tissue Contracture with Renuvion vs BodyTite: Pros and Cons

From the patient’s perspective, Renuvion and BodyTite are more or less interchangeable. There are differences between the two which we will explain, but at the end of the day the results are mostly dependent on the plastic surgeon’s skill with his or her preferred technology. You need to be comfortable with your choice of cosmetic surgery practice and trust that they are experienced in the technology primarily used. It’s less important that you specifically zero in on the “perfect” technology.

BodyTite has been around a bit longer than Renuvion. It was FDA approved in 2016 and has since found many new applications to treat sagging, wrinkly, or crepe-like skin. Dr. Peters of NuBody Concepts Memphis was one of its first adopters and was awarded First Place in the inMode Expert Clinician contest for his innovative use of BodyTite for the treatment of cellulite.

Renuvion by APYX Medical is an even newer technology, with FDA approval given in 2020, and it has taken the cosmetic surgery market by storm. The key difference to BodyTite is the addition of bursts of helium plasma to the radio frequency emitted from the cannula. This allows the tissues to be heated to an even 85 degrees Celsius and cooled back down in under one second. It means that a surgeon can perform skin tightening on an entire area in just 5-15 minutes. The NuBody Concepts team is very excited to be one of the first cosmetic surgery practices to perform Renuvion in the Nashville area, with great results.

Have you decided if you want to do something about those love handles? Explore your options by talking to a plastic surgeon and book a consultation in Nashville or Memphis today!

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