Intrigued by all the wonderful things you hear about body contouring? It certainly is one of the buzz words of our era. It is also an aspect of aesthetic medicine that is victim to more problems, myths and misunderstandings than many others, but if you know just where to look, and how to distinguish the real from the artificial, there are some amazing gems to be discovered in this field. As my chosen area of specialisation, it lies close to my heart and I have particularly strong feelings about the various options available to you.
Once you become aware that your physical appearance is in some ways less attractive than the marvelous countenance you have in your mind, you inevitably start dreaming about the ideal physique. Usually, that means taking away a little here and there, and sometimes adding a touch in other parts. Remarkably few of us feel adequate and comfortable the way mother nature (and our habits) leave us.
Those brave souls that strike out into the expansive world of self-improvement, virtually without fail, discover that this is a lot harder than they first expected. Many give up in frustration along the way. Changing that, is one of my major goals. So how does one go about achieving this dream? Is it even possible?
Yes! Oh, Yes!
There is ample opportunity for each and everyone to get as close as they desire to their ideal. Picking the best solution for you depends on many variables, of which the most important are personality, general health, expectations, preferences, tolerance, endurance and past experiences. I am going to give you a broad overview of the options, so you can make up your own mind.
Essentially, you have three broad groups of solutions to choose from:
- Lifestyle solutions: Diet and Exercise
- Invasive solutions: Surgery
- Other technologies
Since my practice is focused on delivering specific solutions from groups 1 and 2, some would argue that I am biased and I would be the first to admit that that may be true. On the other hand, the reason my focus has settled on these methods is that educated insight and years of practical experience have demonstrated to me that these options deliver patients far better value. My reputation depends on making people happy, so I have to put my money where my mouth is!
You should also understand that there is more than mere appearances at stake here. Medicine has long understood that obesity is either the root cause or a serious contributor to many chronic illnesses, disability, generally impaired quality of life and psychological despair. Why most physicians still do not consider it to be a disease – in fact the most prevalent and dangerous of all diseases – is entirely beyond me. That most people are shrugged off and dismissed with a simple; “You’re fat ‘cause you eat too much. Eat less.”, is reason for profound dismay.
Fixing your physical self is an important step in achieving your potential, and once you start to realise how unlimited the latter really is, you suddenly become much more motivated to effect change. Some fortunate souls are born with the physical and psychological wherewithall to manage this herculean task without any aid. Most mere mortals do orders of magnitude better when pursuing this goal under the close supervision of a skilled and caring professional. Choosing the right man or woman for the job is often the most difficult decision any patient faces.
So let’s take you briefly through the three groups of options to give you greater insight about your choices.
Diet and Exercise
Without doubt this is the most natural of your three options, and when properly executed both the most effective and the most lasting solution. It is however, not suitable for every ‘body’. Obviously, it is not possible to do this vast topic any justice in so few words; a fully stocked library may still be inadequate, so we will visit only the aspects of overriding importance:
- the word ‘diet’ describes your eating habits, whatever they may be
- to achieve lasting changes in the contours of your body, you must make lasting changes in your behaviour, there can be no exceptions
- your aim should be to lose fat, not weight, or you won’t be happy with the results
- exercise is essential for building the dream physique, but less critical to losing weight
- ‘spot reduction’ by way of diet and exercise is physiologically impossible
- medications and acupuncture can be effective adjuncts, but beware of unsupervised use of either as both can cause substantial harm when used inappropriately
At my clinic, we have great success with properly selected and well motivated patients using medically validated fat loss techniques. I will use a 5* rating system to help you understand how I rate them. Properly conducted regimens score 5 stars on my G-Scale and for many people are unquestionably the best solution. At the other extreme, many examples get no stars at all. All fad-diets and instant solutions would fall into this latter group.
Have faith! My main point is that there is a lot more reason for hope and enthusiasm today, than even five years ago. More and more physicians understand this issue at a deeper level. Our advanced training positions us ideally to make the most of that. This is a time vibrating with promise, not the time to give up.
Under the heading of surgical solutions, we find 3 main ideas to consider:
- Mass reduction surgery — Now very rarely performed. Though very effective, scarring tends to be disfiguring. A last resort for special cases.
- Bariatric surgery — Enjoying increasing popularity. A variety of methods to reduce the size and capacity of the stomach and curb hunger. Some are more effective than others, some cause more harm than others. 3 stars.
- Liposuction — Not a single procedure, as you might think, but an entire field of specialization, with myriad technologies and methods. Results and risks are as widely varying as the men and women who practice them. In the right hands, there is simply nothing that can compare. 5 stars.
This varied group is many times as large as the first two combined. An astounding number of techniques have been, and still are developed to avoid the perceived or expected ‘suffering’ of the first group and the perceived risks attached to the second.
Varying degrees of success have been achieved, but I would be paying you a disservice if I let on that any of them were magical. The mere fact that none of them have achieved extensive acceptance pays tribute to that. Anyone who created a technique that actually achieves instantaneous, effective and lasting contouring without any risks or problems would be a trillionaire within weeks. We are still waiting.
The most common examples in widespread use are:
- various types of massage
- radiofrequency energy (‘RF’ devices)
- ultrasound devices
Amongst these, mesotherapy can boast clinically validated effects, when performed by expert practitioners. None of the others can make similar claims, regardless of all the hype you are exposed to.