Coolsculpting has established itself as the worlds #1 noninvasive fat reduction treatment. It has over 3 million treatments worldwide and has been found to be a safe, well tolerated, and reliable procedure. It was FDA approved to cool skin to allow for anesthesia in 2009 and later in 2010, it was given the permanent fat reduction approval.
Coolsculpting treatments involve attaching a handpiece to the area of desired fat removal. There are various sizes of handpieces to assist in reaching all the different areas of the body where there is excessive fat. Most of these handpieces use a suction to pull/draw the tissue and fat into the handpiece, so a requirement (except for the outer thigh where a flat handpiece is used) is that there is “pinchable” fat. These handpieces gradually cool the area treated to the optimal temperature where the fat is killed but the surrounding tissues (skin, blood vessels, nerves) are kept safe. The attachment duration has been 1 hour until recently. It has been proven that about 25% of the fat treated will be removed during this process. It has also been shown that massaging the area treated immediately after handpiece removal improved the outcomes too. There was more fat loss and less post procedure discomfort.
There was a study last year that showed the Zimmer Z Wave treatment, done in place of the massage, lead to a 65-100% improvement in outcomes. In large volume practices, including Dr. Weiner’s office, this is now routinely performed on all Coolsculpting patients immediately when the handpieces are removed. The Z Wave uses radio pulsed technology that send shock waves through the tissues. When these waves bump against newly frozen fat cells, the already compromised cell is further damaged. This increases the amount of fat cell death from the Coolsculpting treatment. Another way to explain how it works is that with Coolsculpting, there are cells that are killed, cells that aren’t, and cells that are undecided. The Z Wave pushes some of these undecided cells to the point that they will die.
A recent advancement in the handpiece technology has been developed. This is the found in the CoolAdvantage and CoolMini handpiece. The changes consist of a more uniform cooling of the area treated. Older handpieces had cooling elements only on the sides of the handpiece cup but the newer has cooling throughout. What does this do to change the treatments? It lowers the treatment time from 1 hour to 35 minutes (45 min with the CoolMini). The newer handpieces have less depth, so more fibrous, less flexible skin areas can now be treated. This also translate into a much more comfortable treatment because there is less pulling in of the tissues. It has been found that post treatment discomfort is also less. There are reports that these handpieces are more effective because there are no longer fat pockets that might not get to the critical temperature need for death.
With the addition of CoolAdvantage technology and the Zimmer Z Wave, Coolsculpting treatment times are almost cut in half, treatments are more comfortable (during and after), and most importantly, the procedure is significantly more efficacious. When researching providers, make sure they use these new technologies.
It’s been a little over 3 years since the Infini was introduced in the United States in August, 2013 by Lutronic. It was developed in Korea, and had been used in the prior 2 years in Asia and Europe. Infini brought a significant evolutionary change to treating the skin with radiofrequency (RF). Although RF has an over 50 year history of medical uses, Lutronic’s Infini innovations has elevated the precision in which the RF energy is delivered to an entirely new level.
It been long established that heating skin causes an inflammatory response that results in collagen stimulation, tissue contraction, and skin rejuvenation. While 42-45 C (denaturing) has shown to be enough to create this cascade, 65-70 C (coagulation) has been shown to lead to maximum collagen deposition. Radiofrequency devices which push their energy through the skin without penetration are limited to temperatures of 45 C because of the risk of harming the skin surface (blisters/scarring). Bypassing the surface with microneedles, as Infini does, temperatures can go up to the coagulation point with very little risk. In addition, Infini can place this energy at the “sweet spot” of the skin, the mid to deep dermis. The depth of most of the predecessor RF devices was always in question, and was often too deep (fat necrosis risk).
Over the last several months, there have been significant treatment innovations with Infini. With diligent research and histological evaluations, optimal settings were further enhanced. These settings lead to larger zones of coagulation during each pulse. This translates into fewer pulses needed (shorter treatment times), and better results. In addition, the treatment tip was modified to allow for a more even distribution of energy, which also leads to better outcomes. The “price to pay” for these innovations is slightly more prolonged redness, possibly up to a week. Also, “microdots”, the grid-like white marks from the needle tips, might last for more than a couple weeks. These have always resolved without scarring or complications.
Dr. Weiner has performed approximately 1000 cases in the past 3 years with Infini. (Cases = areas treated, i.e face, neck, chest). A summary of his findings:
- There have been no long term complications in his patients. There have been no incidences of scarring, unwanted fat loss, or pigmentation issues.
- Infini is safe to use on all skin types.
- Infini is the most effective device available for acne scarring when compared to ablative, non ablative lasers, and other RF devices.
- Significant improvements can be established in the neck wrinkles, necklace lines, and creepy skin of the neck.
- Superficial fine lines on the face are well treated.
- Jawline and submental definition are improved in most cases. Purposeful fat loss is possible in these areas with deeper, more aggressive settings.
- Infini is an option for axillary hyperhidrosis with proven long term results.
- Infini can be safely used all over the body but the small footplate limits treatments on large surface areas.
- Treatment of stretchmarks is only mildly effective. Further refinements in settings and combination therapies are still being researched.
- Treatment of malar festoons (fat pads) is moderately effective with Infini (and will soon be even better with new protocols).
- Over 95% of patients can be treated with only topical anesthesia. With the addition of the Superficial Skin Block, treatments are extremely well tolerated by the remaining patients.
- For optimal results, some patients need volumization and Sculptra can be done simultaneously with Infini treatments.
Infini has already established itself as a low risk, low downtime, skin tightening procedure. Expect better results, less number of treatments needed, and new indications in the future. Significant resources at Lutronic will build upon the Infini platform to maintain its market dominance in the Aesthetic RF market.
There are currently 2 dermal fillers FDA approved for enhancing the cheeks – Voluma and Restylane Lyft. These are both HA (Hyaluronic acid) fillers which are injected into the deeper tissues of the cheek to volumize and lift the cheeks. By lifting the cheeks, the entire lower face is lifted as well, including the jowl area, nasolabial folds, and jawline. It is well known that for an aging face with volume loss, the mainstay of treatment starts with the cheek area.
There are 2 main distinctions between Voluma and Lyft. The first is G prime, which is a measure of resistance of a fluid to flow. What this translates into when injected into the body is it’s “lifting ability”. There is huge difference between the 2 with Lyft at 531 and Voluma at almost 1/2 of Lyft at 274. Although this is not important according to Allergan, the makers of Voluma, this was found to be significant in our challenge. The other factor is cohesivity. This has only been popularized since Voluma was introduced and it the pressure needed to “flatten” the filler. What this translate in the body is the amount of spreading of the filler in the body. Voluma is higher in this category (less spreading) when compared to Lyft, but it’s importance is not known.
When Voluma was introduced to the market, there was significant marketing on it’s “2 year duration”. What wasn’t discussed was how this FDA designation was obtained. Most people in the study were injected at 2 different times. Also, the average amount of filler injected was over 6 syringes. Lastly, only a minority of subjects had evidence of some correction at the end of 2 years. These important details are left out of most discussions with physicians, and certainly not what the public understands about Voluma. In addition, Voluma’s pricing is much higher than all the other fillers on the market, but justifies these prices due to it’s longer duration.
The “Cheek Challenge” was performed by Dr. Weiner to try to vet out whether there are significant differences between Restylane Lyft and Voluma. To try to keep the study similar to the FDA study, a total of 6cc was injected, 3 of Lyft on the right cheek, and 3 of Voluma on the left cheek. Follow ups and photos were taken at 1-2 month intervals for 1 year. There was no secondary injections because this is what most closely represents a real patient’s experience. Keep in mind this is only one patient but Dr. Weiner did challenge other physicians to do the same, similar to the “Ice Bucket Challenge”. There were about 4-5 other physicians which have also done the “Cheek Challenge”. Their findings have been similar per private discussions with them.
- Duration of improvement was the same. AT 12 MONTHS, THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE RESTYLANE LYFT AND VOLUMA TREATED SIDES AND THE BASELINE PRE PROCEDURE PICTURES.
- During the year, the patient noted that the Restylane Lyft cheek felt higher than the Voluma side.
- During the year, the patient felt that the Voluma cheek dropped slighted.
- During the first 1-2 weeks, more swelling was noted on the Lyft side.
- There was no difference in pain between the 2 sides.
- Noted improvements were seen in jowls, jawline, NLF, cheeks, and periocular area on both sides of face.
Although this is only a single patient, these results support multiple clinicians findings that Voluma’s duration is very similar to other HA products. Even with the use of 6 syringes, which is rarely used in a single patient, the duration did not exceed 12 months. Patients need to be counseled that 12 months is what can be expected for Voluma’s longevity. Less expensive and higher G prime filler, Restylane Lyft, seems to be a better choice for volumizing the cheek complex.
There is an increasing recognition of the power of PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma). Platelets contain a high concentration of growth factors and immune modulators which have been shown to improve wound healing, improve hair growth, and possibly rejuvenate skin and other areas of the body. The “Vampire Facial and Facelift” have become popular procedures in medspas and refers to applying PRP into the skin surface with microneedling devices (facial) or more deeply with injections (facelift). Wound care centers have great success at expediting healing in chronic would which have failed conventional therapy. Many orthopedic joint problems have been improved or resolved with PRP injections into the joint area. Cardiac surgeons have noted a significant drop in wound problems by using preventative treatments with PRP. Hair growth has been documented with PRP scalp injections and improvement in hair transplant results are found by bathing the follicles in PRP prior to implantation has been noted. Laser resurfacing has been shown to heal faster when PRP is applied immediately to the skin. It is clear, PRP has significant benefits for multiple medical ailments.
What’s even better news is that using PRP is extremely safe! Essentially what PRP consists of is using your own blood and isolating a concentrated portion of it, the platelets. This is where the lack of regulation can be abused. Since the FDA has considered PRP to be “minimal manipulation” of taking something out of the body and then placing it back, there is no FDA approval needed and oversight is minimal. The problem then becomes that there is tremendous variation is what one office considers PRP versus another office and concentrations of platelets can be all over the map.
Blood is essentially 2 components – Red blood cells (RBC) and plasma. In normal individuals, RBC’s make up about 40% of the blood (hemoglobin of 40). Plasma is serum and platelets, the other 60%. So in a 10 cc blood sample, about 5cc can be considered useful for making PRP. Through a process of centrifugation, the RBC’s can be removed, and the concentration of platelets can be increased. It has been shown by studies, that the “sweet spot” for PRP is a platelet concentration of 6X (1.5 milllion/ml) the normal value found in blood. Higher concentrations have been shown in some studies to actually be counter productive and lead to more inflammation, and lower concentrations have less improvements.
So, doing the math, if only a 10cc tube of blood is drawn, only about 1cc of useful PRP is obtainable if shooting for the 6X goal. A cc of PRP is 1/5 of a teaspoon…not much. Much higher volumes are needed to get an adequate amount of PRP to be useful (the author uses 60-120cc blood volumes). There was one study presented at the IMCAS conference in Paris over 2 years ago (which the author attended) which looked at the concentration of platelets using 14 different devices. In about half the devices, the platelets weren’t even concentrated more than what is found in normal blood. Only half the remaining were in the therapeutic “sweet spot” of 6X concentration.
Bottom Line: If only 10-20cc of blood are being drawn, then the final product is either not the ideal concentration of PRP (6X) or the volume of PRP is too small to be useful!
There is no doubt that there are clear benefits to PRP in the areas of wound healing, orthopedics, and hair restoration. However, with the lack of FDA oversight, many patients who think they are receiving therapeutic doses of PRP, are actually getting suboptimal doses or just plain plasma, which has little to no benefits. When seeking out PRP treatments, make sure that provider knows the concentration of platelets that his/her device is producing, and the math makes sense.
There have been hundreds of potions, lotions, and procedures claiming the end to cellulite. All have basically failed…until now. Finally, there is a way to cure those cellulite dimples on the buttocks and posterior/lateral thigh. The procedure is called Cellfina, and at the ASLMS in April, 2016, there was data presented showing 3 years of persistent improvements. One presenter suggested that the very early test subjects from 5 years ago had similarly persistent results.
Cellfina is done in the office using just local anesthesia. Start to finish, it takes about 1 1/4 hours, and patients are able to drive themselves home. There is very mild discomfort during the procedure (4/10) and is associated with the numbing of the areas to be treated. Afterwards, no pain medication is required, and some go back to work immediately afterwards. Most will take the remainder of the day off and head back to work the following day. Physical activity can resume after 1 or 2 days. Bruising is the most common side effect, but can be treated at the Aesthetic Clinique with the Excel V to cut down the duration to a couple days. There have been no long term side effects noted in any of the study patients.
The procedure starts with pictures and identification of the dimples that need treated. These are only able to be treated on the back part of the thighs and buttocks. After marking the sites, the patient lays prone on the table and the areas are cleaned/prepped. The Cellfina suction plate is placed over the marked areas and controlled injection of tumescent anesthetia is placed. After about 15 minutes, the same suction apparatus is placed on the sites again, and a motorized reciprocating needle-like device is inserted. This device releases the fibrous bands which are pulling the skin down. By releasing the bands, the skin elevates and viola… gone dimple. This process is continued until all the areas marked are treated. Pads are placed on the treated areas because there may be some leaking of the tumescent fluid for the next day or so.
Results begin to appear within a few days. Results are stable after a couple months for years to come.
With years of research behind Cellfina, it appears that there is finally a long term solution for correcting the nagging dimples associated with cellulite. With minimal side effects and downtime, it seems likely to be a very popular procedure, given that over 85% of females over adolescence have some degree of cellulite.
There is so much information available on the internet that is becomes extremely confusing to the average person as to what is the right thing for them to do. While genetics, race, and lifestyle play a role in how one ages, there are many universal features of the aging face which are inescapable. While it is common to be asked “should I do this or that”, the best results are always a combination of several different procedures.
- Wrinkles: Botox/Dysport relax hyperdynamic muscles which cause wrinkles with movement. There’s a reason this is the most popular cosmetic procedure in the world. It is quick, extremely effective, very little downtime, minimally painful, and with a high satisfaction rate. Common areas treated are the “11’s” or frown lines, crows feet, and forehead lines. Duration of effect is about 3-4 months. Early preventative treatment is effective in delaying lines which appear at rest (etched in lines).
- Loss of Volume: Volume loss is inevitable. The aging process in combination with sun exposure causes the face to lose fat, bone, muscle, and collagen. Starting at the age of about 32, a cc or 2 of volume is lost per year. It begins to become visible at about age 38-40. This is called the “tipping point” in women, about the time when fertility starts to drops off. Sun protection and darker skin types will delay this lost volume up to 10 or 15 years. Replacing lost volume is done with fillers. The most common fillers are made with Hyaluronic Acid (HA) which is a natural component of skin. Examples of HA fillers include Juvederm, Restylane, and Voluma. Longer lasting fillers are Sculptra and Bellafill.
- Pigmentation/Redness: Inevitably, skin gets exposed to the sun and “sun damage” occurs. The sun is responsible for destroying collagen in the skin, causing it to thin, and lose elasticity and hydration. Another effect is causing vascular fragility leading to visible vessels and redness. Melanin is produced as the body makes an effort to protect the skin resulting in “sun spots” or hyperpigmentation. Lasers are effective in treating these conditions near painlessly. For reds, VBeam or Excel V Lasers are the gold standards. Up to 3 treatments might be needed. For a few small patches of pigment, a Q Switched Laser or Excel V is used. For more diffuse patches of pigmentation, laser resurfacing (Fraxel) or IPL are good options.
- Skin Laxity/Sagging: The combination of gravity and loss of skin elasticity can result in the need for skin tightening. Surgery will give the most aggressive result for this. Alternative treatments with less downtime, less risks are Infini, Thermitight, or Ablative Lasers.
- Fat Accumlation: Aging leads to changes in metabolism and fat storage. Patients develop fatty collections which become difficult to diminish despite aggressive workout routines and diets. There are now multiple noninvasive approaches to removing fat permanently with no downtime. Larger more diffuse areas require a technology called Vanquish ME. Smaller areas can be spot treated with either Coolsculpting, Sculpsure, Ultrashape, or Liposonix. In the submental area, fat can be reduced with an injection called Kybella, a new handpiece from Coolsculpting (CoolMini) or with Thermitight. Of course surgery including liposuction or tummy tuck has been the gold standard for decades and is the best option for those desiring the most aggressive approach.
Drum roll please….The top picks from the 5 categories (Dr. Weiner’s Choices):
Dysport, Sculptra, Excel V, Infini, Coolsculpting (CoolMini)
Thread lifting is not a new concept. It was first developed in 1999 by Dr. Sulamanidze in Russia. APTOS Threads (a non absorbable suture made of polypropylene) were used for lifting and tightening skin without surgery. Contour threads of similar make up were introduced in the US in the early 2000’s. There were problems with these procedures. Placement was fairly complicated, requiring deep fixation points with hooks on the suture. The downtime was several days, skin redundancy was frequent, and sutures extruded or needed to be removed. Complications rates were very high and by 2007, the Contour threads were taken off the market. Thread lifting was not ready for “prime time” at this point.
After heading “back to the drawing board”, a simpler, less invasive, less risk thread was developed, PDO Threads. PDO (also known as PDS) sutures have over 30 years of safety use in Cardiothoracic, Plastic, OB Gyn, and Trauma surgical procedures. This material (polydioxanon) is highly flexible, elastic, strong, and absorbable. It is hydrophobic (does not absorb water) so swelling is kept to a minimum. Gradually over 4-6 months, the suture is degraded by the body’s immune system and replaced with collagen. Patients with immune system diseases, on immunosuppressants, or smokers are not good candidates for threads.
The placement of these PDO sutures is done with minimal discomfort (somewhat similar to filler placed with a cannula). They are placed just underneath the surface of the skin and don’t require the deep fixation that the prior threads needed. Downtime is minimal, with only possible bruising holding you back from social events. The risks and complications have been significantly reduced as well. It is extremely rare that a thread needs to be removed because they are much smaller (therefore less noticeable) than prior threads and because they can be dissolved with using heat (most often RF energy). The ability for the threads to dissolve over time increases the comfort level of all involved in PDO Threads. Results can last from 12-18 months, depending on the area treated (lip area is maximum 4-6 months). Only about 30% of the full result is seen immediately. It takes about 3-4 months to see the final result as the body reacts to the thread.
There are 4 design variants of the PDO Threads:
- Smooth threads: these are used in areas where collagen stimulation (dermal thickening) is needed. Often they are placed in a cross-hatched pattern. They are commonly placed in areas of superficial wrinkles or crepey skin. Common areas used are: cheeks, neck, marionette lines, glabella, temples, forehead, lip lines, lips.
- Twisted threads: these are smooth threads which are coiled. They give more collagen production than the smooth. These are used mainly in the nasolabial folds and marionette areas.
- Single Barbed threads: these threads have barb on them (cut with a laser) to lift and tighten sagging skin. Once they are placed, the physician runs his hand over the thread to engage the barbs to help pull the skin up or back. The ideal areas for these threads are the mid/lower face, jowls, and upper neck. Keep in mind these can be used anywhere on the body and some physicians are using these in the knee area, chest, and breast area. Think of these threads as “creating a collagenous tendon” as the body breaks the PDO down and replaces it with collagen.
- Double Barbed threads: similar to the single barbs but they have 2 sets of barbs going in opposite directions. They are placed slightly differently and require an exit point as well. Once the suture is in position and engaged, both ends are cut at the level just below the skin. These are used in similar areas as the single barbed threads when cheek fullness is desired or additional lifting is needed.
PDO threads aren’t for everyone. Severe skin laxity won’t be improved with these. It is important that patients are volumized to their fullest prior to or during the procedure. It is vitally important that patients and physicians have realistic expectations for threads. The results won’t be comparable to surgery but will offer improvements which might push surgery out for a few years. The great thing about the threads is that more can be added down the road to maintain or get additional correction.
Dr. Weiner is a physician trainer for PDO Treads (Nova Threads) and was one of the earliest adopters of this new procedure in the US.
It’s okay to talk about these things now. Women are discussing this subject at bars and parties. Restoring and enhancing the vaginal area is now popular, the “in” thing. The industry has gotten onboard with no less than 6 devices that have entered the market in the last 12 months for treating this area cosmetically. A colleague has called 2016, “The Year of the Vagina”. The only one that is different is ThermiVa and here’s why.
- ThermiVa is completely non invasive with no healing required
- There is no downtime – physical and even sexual activity can resume immediately
- ThermiVa can tighten vaginal laxity
- ThermiVa can improve “leaky bladders”
- ThermiVa can enhance the appearance of the labia
- ThemiVa improves lubrication associated with atrophy
- There is no topical or blocks needed for pain
- Improve sexual gratification, orgasmic function
ThermiVa works by gently heating the tissues up to the desired preset temperature using radiofrequency (RF). The heat causes release of factors with result in increased vascularity to the area, increased collagen production, and tissue tightening. The temperature is not too hot, but tolerable, and has been described as similar to heat from a hot stone massage. There is immediate tightening that patients recognize as well as an improved cosmetic appearance. Full results take about 3 months to fully appreciate.
It is recommended to have 3 treatments spaced about 1 month apart. Results should last about 12 months and touch ups will keep the results up at that time. There are essentially no risks or major side effects. Treatment times are about 30-40 minutes and regular activities can begin immediately afterwards.
There are several anecdotal stories of the partners of women who received the ThermiVa enjoying the results as much as the patient. It’s a procedure both will benefit from.
It is no longer taboo to discuss female sexuality or functional problems in the vaginal area. ThermiVa allows for a quick, no downtime procedure that addresses several areas for which improvement is desired. Please call our office to discuss further, 850.622.1214.
Smoking is well known for its detrimental effects to one’s lungs and health. Lung cancer, heart disease, chronic lung disease, strokes are all sited to have much higher rates in those that smoke. It certainly is no leap of faith to imagine the harm smoking causes to the largest organ of the body, the skin.
There is one study which shows that moderate smokers (30 cigs/day) will show 14 more years of aging when they hit 70 then nonsmokers. They are more likely to have deeper crows feet and “smoker’s lines” above the lips. Telangiectasias, often called broken capillaries, are more common in smokers. The color and glow of the skin is changed. The circulation is decreased because the blood vessels are constricted (vasoconstriction), mainly due to nicotine, so the skin becomes dull, ashen, and loses it redness. Carbon monoxide levels become elevated in the blood stream, reducing the oxygen capacity of the blood. Hydration of the skin is reduced in smokers. Also, the vasoconstriction affects the hair by thinning it and causing premature graying.
Another study shows that smoker had about a 20% collagen reduction in response to a wound. Extracellular matrix turnover was also decrease. Smoking also depletes vital nutrients in the skin such as Vitamin B and Vitamin C (needed for collagen formation), and magnesium. Each cigarette generates million of free radicals, which causes an inflammatory response throughout the body.
Many of our aesthetic procedures rely on the body’s response to get optimal or for that matter, any outcome. A collagen response is needed in our collagen stimulating fillers such as Sculptra, Bellafill, and Radiesse. The longevity and volume afforded by these fillers is solely collagen related. These fillers should be reconsidered if they are planned to be used in a smoker.
A flap during surgery is when an area of skin is elevated from its normal position. This compromises the blood flow because part of the normal vasculature is cut. This is what occurs when performing a face lift, neck lift, rhinoplasty (nose job), blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery), tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), and breast surgery. A smokers outcome with these procedures is at significantly higher risk because of the vasoconstriction that nicotine causes. The flaps are at risk of necrosis (dying), prolonged edema, prolonged healing, scarring, need for reoperation and infection.
Laser resurfacing or RF (radiofrequency) procedures depend on the heat injury to cause an inflammatory response which ultimately leads to collagen stimulation and skin tightening. In a smoker, the blood supply in compromised to the skin so WOUND HEALING AND COLLAGEN FORMATION IS SIGNIFICANTLY IMPAIRED. Complications such as infection, prolonged healing, scarring, poor results are much higher with smokers. Most physicians will not perform ablative laser procedures on smokers because of these additional risks.
Many smokers say they will quit and use nicotine gum/patches or e-cigarettes. These solutions are just as detrimental as cigarettes to wound healing and collagen formation. There is still vascular constriction with these substitutes. Most surgeons require a window of at least 3 weeks prior to surgery and 4 weeks after to be smoke free. Some require urine testing for nicotine and its by products to document compliance.
Smoking and aesthetic procedures aren’t a good combination. It is counterproductive to smoke while striving to look younger. If one is really concerned about their looks, smoking cessation is absolutely necessary. It will save your appearance and save your life too!
Coolsculpting ushered in the era of non invasive fat reduction in 2009. Who would ever have believed that a one hour procedure could remove fat permanently, without incisions? Coolsculpting can produce reliable fat loss of approximately 20-25% with no downtime and minimal risk. It is clearly the market leader with over 2 million treatments. For a long time, Coolsculpting stood without competition, but over the past couple years, formidable competition has been developed. The differences between Coolsculpting and Vanquish ME will be elaborated below. (Dr. Weiner has experience with both technologies, adopting the Coolsculpting in 2009 and the Vanquish in 2014.)
Research has found that a fat cell’s survival is sensitive to both heat and cold. Coolsculpting takes advantage of cooling the fat tissue to a temperature that is safe for all other structures such as nerves, muscles, and skin. After the Coolsculpting treatment, the fat cells gradually die in a process called apoptosis over the next 6-8 weeks. Subsequent treatments in the same areas yield even better results.
Vanquish ME uses radiofrequency technology to heat up the fat tissue to a point where the fat cells undergo apoptosis as well. The more treatments an individual has, the better the outcomes will be.
From a cursory perspective, it appears that these technologies are interchangeable, but that is definitely not the case. These are where they differ:
One of the major differences between these 2 technologies is that Coolsculpting requires pinchable fat that can be suctioned into the handpiece. This is a major downside to this technology because patients that have fat that can’t be drawn into the handpiece, can’t be treated. On the other hand, Vanquish ME can treat all patients. This includes the moderate to severe obese patient, who is not a candidate for the Coolsculpting. It can also treat the very fit patient who has just a small bit of fat that doesn’t go away with exercise but is not enough to place in a Coolsculpting handpiece.
The treatment area of Vanquish ME is significantly larger than with a Coolsculpting application. This is important because there have been cases of Coolsculpting treatments leading to demarcations between the treated areas. Correction of this problem is difficult, and might require liposuction. This has not been found to occur with Vanquish ME due to the large treatment areas, multiple sessions, and feathering that occurs on the edges of the area treated.
Coolsculpting has been advocated for patients with BMI’s (body mass index) below 30. This limits the procedure to those patients which are mildly overweight. On the other hand, Vanquish ME can be performed on all body types. The problem with treating the higher BMI patient’s with Coolsculpting is that they are at higher risk to have the indentations and demarcations then the lower BMI patients.
Radiofrequency has long been used to help tighten skin. The heat causes collagen stimulation and remodeling. An advantage of the Vanquish ME over Coolsculpting is it’s ability to cause some skin contraction.
Potential side effects of Coolsculpting have been shown to be numbness, bruising, prolonged pain, and paradoxical fat enlargement. The potential side effects from Vanquish has only been superficial skin burns, but that risk has been minimized with changes in the administration of the treatments.
The areas treatable with the technologies are:
- Abdomen and Flanks: Coolsculpting needs at least 4 different applications to treat abdomen and flanks (4 hours). This can be performed in one treatment with the Vanquish ME, but will require 4-6 visits (about 4-5 hours).
- Inner and Outer Thighs: Coolsculpting 2 different applications each leg vs Vanquish ME’s one each leg but 4-6 treatments
- Chin, Gynecomastia, Bra Fat: Only treatable with Coolsculpting
- Arms (“batwings”): Treatable with both technologies
Zimmer’s Z Wave has been shown to increase the fat destruction after use of both the Vanquish ME and Coolsculpting. Studies have shown an average increase of about 68% fat loss (up to 100%) when the Z Wave is used. The Z Wave is a painless 5 minute procedure that is performed at the conclusion of the treatment. Technically, the Z Wave is described as “Radial Pulse Therapy (RPT)”, which causes a shock wave to go thru the fat. It pushes fat cells that are “undecided” as to whether they are going to survive the fat destroying treatment over the edge, leading to a more effective treatment.
Both Vanquish ME and Coolsculpting have proven technologies that treat unwanted fat permanently using noninvasive techniques. Coolsculpting can be used to treat some areas that Vanquish can not. Coolsculpting has more side effects, albeit usually minor. The clear winner for the larger patient is the Vanquish ME for its ability to treat larger surface areas without the risk of lines of demarcation or indentations. Patients with loose skin will be better served with the Vanquish ME.