In today’s beauty-inclined and body-conscious culture, fat has become a sworn enemy. It’s all about the muscles and the hourglass shape. Sure, there are thousands of diets and workouts available on the internet for that healthy living. However, some of us resort to cosmetic surgeries to get rid of stubborn bulges, particularly in the abdomen area.

Don’t get us wrong, the diet and exercise route is still the healthiest way to achieve your fitness goals. But let’s face it, our bodies are different; sometimes, three hours at the gym three times a week is just too much for some. People undergo surgical fat removal due to factors that may make the diet-and-exercise route difficult – age, genetics, medical conditions, stress, and giving birth.

But you don’t have to go under the knife, get loaded on anesthesia, and endure weeks of recovery time to banish those stubborn flabs. Here, we compare four non-invasive fat reduction treatments to lose the fat without incisions.

High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU)

What it is: HIFU uses acoustic energy to heat and destroy fat cells at a temperature above 58°C

Pain Level: High; Side effects include massive bruising and tenderness for up to 2 weeks

How It’s Done: High intensity ultrasound energy is used to “melt” targeted fat, akin to how a magnifying glass works. This energy passes through the skin, and destroys the fat beneath the surface. A few weeks and months after treatment, the body naturally removes the destroyed fat through the lymphatic system.

Results: Average reduction of more than 2 cm in waistline, about 4-12 weeks after treatment. In a 2015 review, people reported losing about 10.3 to 25.5 percent of fat in the treated area.

How Many Treatments You Need: 1-2

Radio Frequency (e.g. Vanquish)

What it is: Radio frequency works like HIFU – by using heat exposure. However, RF utilizes electrical energy at temperatures 43°C-45°C

Pain Level: Medium; Side effects may include lumps and tenderness

How It’s Done: Radio frequency treatments heat fat cells to death without the instrument making physical contact with your skin. The applicator heats from a one centimeter distance from the skin. RF treatments are done without anesthesia, and a session usually takes around 30 minutes. There are no activity restrictions and no downtime.

Results: Average reduction of under 2 inches in the abdomen area, although results may vary among patients. Decrease in fat is visible 3-8 weeks after treatment.

How Many Treatments You Need: 2-3 treatments

Laser Therapy (e.g. Sculpsure)

What it is: Laser therapy uses laser energy to destroy fat cells in the target area.

Pain Level: None; Side effects may include redness, tenderness, and swelling

How It’s Done: The target area is first assessed and marked to identify where the applicator will be placed. Then, laser energy is delivered to these marked parts through an applicator. Fat cells are heated and disrupted without affecting other types of cells. Throughout the treatment, the patient may feel a cooling sensation. Intermittent warmth or tingling may also be felt. One laser therapy session usually lasts for about 25 minutes and there are no activity restrictions or downtime.

Results: Patients will see visible results 6-12 weeks after treatment.

How Many Treatments You Need: 2-3 treatments.

Cryolipolysis or Fat Freezing (e.g. CoolTech)

What it is: Contrary to the previously listed treatments using heat to destroy fat cells, cryolipolysis uses a different approach by lowering body fat temperature to -7°C to -8°C. Research has found that fat cells are actually more susceptible to cooling than other skin cells, making cooling more effective than heating in fat reduction treatments.

Pain Level: None;  The risk of side effects are low, but may include redness and tenderness

How It’s Done: Fat Freezing machines have a cup shaped applicator with two cooling panels which are applied to the target area. The applicators lower the temperature and ‘suctions’ the skin, blasting the fat without damaging other cells and tissues around it. A cold sensation and tugging is felt for the first few minutes before the area goes numb. A cryolipolysis session lasts about 70 minutes. There are no activity restrictions and downtime, allowing the patient to resume normal routines immediately after.

Results: In a 2015 review in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, people lost an average of 14.67 to 28.5 percent of fat in the targeted areas. Within 15-20 days, the damaged fat has completely left the body and visible improvement in body contour is seen. The eliminated fat cells cannot return to the treated areas. With painless treatments, no downtime, and long lasting results, patients rate a 94% satisfaction rate for Fat Freezing.

How Many Treatments You Need: 1-2 treatments

Losing fat might indeed be difficult for some people because of different factors. Moreover, cosmetic surgeries like liposuction might be a less appealing option for some of us because of the incisions and risk factors involved. Fortunately, non-invasive procedures provide an alternative but still effective solutions to eliminating fat. Of the fat reduction treatments listed above, we highly recommend cryolipolysis or fat freezing. With its high patient satisfaction rate and research backing, it’s the fat reduction treatment that really works. Keep in mind that whatever fat reduction treatment you’re going for, always consult licensed experts to ensure that it’s safe and effective. Courthouse Clinics are trusted for their face and body treatments, including Fat Freezing.