Shake it Off: Ultrasonic Cavitation for Fat Loss

Dr. Christopher McGowan
November 23, 2021

Anyone who has tried to get rid of stubborn fat deposits has probably wished there was a way to just melt the pounds away. It turns out that fat dissolving injections can sort of melt fat away, and you can freeze it off with procedures like CoolSculpting. If you don’t want to resort to liposuction, though, there is now one more option available: blasting fat with sound waves. 

If you are still looking to reduce your love handles after you get a handle on your overall wellness, then a non-invasive procedure called ultrasonic cavitation may be just the thing you are looking for. While it is not a replacement for diet and exercise if you are looking to drop significant amounts of weight, fat cavitation can help shape and tone areas of the body that can harbor stubborn fat deposits. 

What does Ultrasound Cavitation do?

Ultrasonic cavitation is a process that uses ultrasonic radio frequency energy to cause small bubbles to form in and around fat cells, causing them to rupture. The remnants of these ruptured cells include free fatty acids and glycerol that are processed out by the body, eliminating fat deposits that are otherwise hard to get rid of. 

Ultrasonic cavitation is a non-invasive procedure where low-frequency radio waves are directed through the skin and into fat deposits in areas of the body such as the flanks, thighs, and upper arms. The procedure is completed in a short visit to a cosmetic surgery center, and you can usually go back to your regular activities immediately. Since it takes time for your body to process out the fat that has been destroyed, it will take several weeks for the effects of a fat cavitation session to become apparent. This solves one of the major complaints about liposuction, which is the loose skin that can be left over after fat is removed with suction. 

Fat cavitation is a cosmetic procedure, and as such you will likely pay for it out of pocket rather than through insurance. Costs are normally a few hundred dollars per procedure, but the likelihood of needing multiple treatment sessions is high. This leads to the average cost of a course of ultrasonic cavitation landing somewhere above $1,300.

Does Ultrasonic Cavitation Really Work?

Like other body contouring procedures, ultrasonic cavitation does work, though there are limits to the amount of body fat you can get rid of with this procedure. You can remove stubborn fat deposits of cellulite or adipose tissue in small treated areas, but this is a body shaping procedure, and should not be thought of as an option for serious weight loss. 

Fat deposits that are removed with ultrasonic waves are destroyed permanently, but your body may store new fat in the target areas over time if you don’t maintain a low calorie diet and maintain an appropriate level of physical activity. This can lead to fat returning even after ultrasonic cavitation treatments. For this reason, you should not consider body sculpting until you have established a healthy weight. 

The length of a treatment session will vary depending on the location of the treated area and how much ultrasonic cavitation work is being performed. Since it takes time for your body to process out the destroyed fat cells, it can take time for the results of an individual body sculpting session to become apparent. This means that you may not know how effective a session has been until much later. As is the case with cryolipolysis, you may need to have multiple cavitation sessions on the same body area before you achieve the fat reduction you are looking for. 

It is possible that the target areas treated during an ultrasonic cavitation session will not appear smooth after your body has processed out fat tissue. Lumps or waves in the skin may remain, and may need to be addressed in subsequent treatment sessions. 

The Limits of Body Sculpting

The most important thing to remember about all forms of body sculpting, whether it is freezing, fat cavitation, or even invasive procedures such as liposuction, is that there is a limit to the amount of fat removal that can be achieved. 

Fat cavitation, also known as ultrasonic lipolysis, is also limited to particular areas of the body. There are certain areas of the body where other forms of weight loss treatment such as fat freezing are allowed, but ultrasonic waves may present a danger. This is particularly true for fat deposits around the head and neck, under the chin, or around bony parts of the body. 

Ultrasonic cavitation is not for everyone. If you have a history of heart disease, have a pacemaker, or have a history of malignancies, ultrasonic cavitation may not be an option for you. Other reasons you might not be a candidate for fat cavitation include: 

  • women who are pregnant or breastfeeding 
  • individuals with skinfold lower than 2 cm
  • infection or inflammation in the target area
  • people with metal implants including pacemakers
  • anyone with coagulation disorders or on medication to manage blood clotting
  • anyone with medical conditions such as osteoporosis or diabetes

The Benefits of Fat Cavitation

One of the reasons people gravitate toward non-invasive procedures like fat cavitation is that there is little to no downtime. This is in contrast to surgical liposuction where you may be required to undergo a short hospital stay to ensure you don’t develop an infection or suffer other negative side effects from your procedure. 

Recovery times for some weight loss procedures can be long, but like other body sculpting options, you can return to your daily life immediately after ultrasonic cavitation. After a treatment session, you should drink plenty of water to help your lymphatic system flush out the fat tissue that was destroyed. 

The Difference Between Body Sculpting and Weight Loss Procedures

Losing weight can be a daunting process, and determining what procedures, surgeries, diets, or programs are going to help you get the results you need can be overwhelming. It is important to understand that not every procedure carries the same potential to help you lose weight, or the same potential risks and side effects. 

Body sculpting procedures like CoolSculpting, fat cavitation, or even liposuction are not designed to help you lose large amounts of weight. If you are obese or severely overweight, you will need to modify your diet, begin exercising more frequently if you can, possibly avoid lifestyle factors that contribute to weight gain such as stress, and possibly even consider weight loss procedures such as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty

If you are serious about fat loss for overall health and wellness, eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise are essential parts of the picture. Blasting fat with ultrasonic waves may help slim down the appearance of your thighs or upper arms, but making a meaningful change in your overall weight is going to take a more significant commitment.

No one should have to tackle the problem of weight loss alone. At True You Weight Loss, we know the challenges people face in finding the freedom from excess body fat. We provide a wide range of services to help you find the success you have been searching for in achieving a healthy body weight. If you are interested in learning more about what True You can do for you, request a consultation with us today.

Dr. Christopher McGowan
Dr. Christopher McGowan

Dr. Christopher McGowan, MD, a leader in endobariatrics, specializes in non-surgical obesity treatments and is triple-board-certified in Internal Medicine, Gastroenterology, and Obesity Medicine. Renowned for pioneering endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) with over 2,000 procedures, his global influence and research contributions define him as a top expert.

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