Body contouring treatments: Friend or foe?

Body contouring treatments: Friend or foe?
Body contouring treatments: Friend or foe?

The health and beauty market never seems short of get fit quick treatments, procedures and gadgets, and at no time during the year are we ever more hopeful that they’ll work than now — bikini season.

From rapid weight loss pills to cellulite removing treatments, there’s always a new “next big thing” gunning for your hard earned dollars. And more often than not, those same “miracle” treatments lead consumers down the too-short emotional trail from “hallelujah” to “I’ve been had.”

This may come as a surprise (#sarcasm), but some noninvasive body contouring treatments may exaggerate the effectiveness and results of their products. A recent article in The New York Times focuses its laser beam on one such product called the Lila Strawberry Laser. Recently featured on a Rachael Ray Show segment, the Strawberry is seen being strapped onto a test subject named “Candace,” where low-level laser diode panels do what they do for 20 minutes. The on-air result, according to plastic surgeon and scientific adviser to the company that distributes the device, Dr. David E. Halpern, is an eight inch weight-loss off of her circumference. Eight inches in 20 minutes? *studio audience goes wild.

The product heavies claim that these results are typical. But others say “not so fast.”

While that Strawberry Laser has been cleared by the FDA to “reduce the waistline temporarily (I smell a key word),” it is raising skepticism from medical experts like Dr. Mark L. Jewell, a plastic surgeon in Eugene, Ore., and former president of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. “It defies reasonable thinking that in 20 minutes you could lose eight inches,” the good doctor told the Times, noting that “low-level laser devices are unlikely to result in significant changes since they emit about as much energy as a hand-held laser pointer.”

So why do we keep jumping on the latest slimming gimmick bandwagon? And why do companies keep doling them out?

There is an endless rapt audience of consumers who are looking for get-thin-quick results without the medical risks and recovery time of invasive surgeries that are proven to work. This despite the fact that the prime candidates for such treatments are not people looking to lose 10+ pounds, but instead are those that are already fit and simply want to address a small stubborn area. And the FDA doesn’t require rigorous, long-term scientific research that the products work, but instead vets machines that can prove that their latest and greatest is comparable to devices already on the market. The FDA declines, however, to guarantee any of these machines’ effectiveness.

Which doesn’t mean that all of the treatments and gizmos available on the market today, don’t offer effective benefits. In fact, the number one noninvasive body contouring treatment promises more modest results and seems to have consumers convinced: CoolSculpting.

Developed by physicians at Mass General, CoolSculpting involves clamping a section of fat “about the size of a stick of butter” and “cooling” that area for one to three hours, promising that after 12 weeks, the fat layer of the treated area will diminish by 20+ percent (this from a company financed study). Judging from an increase in the company's net revenue from year to year, the treatment seems to be a popular one.

So keep your eyes peeled and remain skeptical. We’ll be on the lookout for the real “next big thing,” and we’re sure you will be too.

About the Author

Corrie Shenigo is obsessed. No seriously, she has a problem. Gleefully embracing all things even remotely related to being a modern woman, Ms. Shenigo dutifully reports her experiences and findings back to the fairer sexed masses – ‘cause gosh darn-it, they need to know. 

Yes, yes… she’s qualified. A former Editor at luxe mega-publisher Modern Luxury Media, Corrie has been published in Vogue, In-Style, Cosmopolitan, LemonTree and a whole slew of other print magazines, websites and beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogs, as well as her own blog A skilled copywriter, Corrie’s clients have included noted beauty brands like Smashbox, CrushCrush Couture and Market America. She’s been known to moonlight as a red-carpet reporter for various celebrity news sources and somewhere in her studio lives a shiny B.A. in Mass Media-Journalism and Public Relations. 

Covering lifestyle, beauty and fashion isn’t just her job… it’s an adventure. So consider her the Christopher Columbus of women’s media – exploring, taking notes and reporting directly back to the Queen… ahem… that would be you.