Non-invasive fat loss treatments

You are a fit and fast business leader; your team is lean and mean, your results, solid. There is no reason why you shouldn’t set the same standards for your physique.

And, while intense workouts satisfy, there are, due to age or hormonal changes, just some pockets of stubborn fat that won’t yield to crunches or tricep curls.

This is where non-invasive fat-reduction treatments come in. Applicable to most parts of the body – thighs, belly, arms and even chin – these procedures offer a quick fix for those looking to sculpt their body.

1. Microwave it

A recent entry in the local market, body contouring system Onda utilises the latest microwave technology, Coolwaves, to target fat cells. While an integrated cooling system works to protect the skin, the microwave will act on destroying the fat cells, which are eventually removed through the lymphatic system.

The emission is highly controlled, preventing random transmission to the body, says Dr Kenneth Thean, founder and medical director of Ensoul Medical Clinic. “No organs or other tissues, other than the ones we want to treat, are affected by the electromagnetic radiation, which makes it a safe system.” He says the handpiece works only when it’s in contact with the skin, which assures complete control over the delivery of power.

The treatment is said to have other benefits. Unlike most body contouring treatments that aim to either kill fat cells or tighten skin, Onda can do both. There is also a reduction in the appearance of cellulite. According to Dr Thean, the treatment can be used on the thighs, hips, love handles, back and even stubborn loose skin, such as that around the knees. Each treatment takes around 10 to 20 minutes, shorter than your Monday briefings.

2. Freeze it

Cryolipolysis, such as Coolsculpting, busts fat cells by freezing them. “When fat cells are exposed to extreme cold, they die naturally,” says Dr Lee Shu Jin of Plastic Surgery by SJ Lee.

An applicator cup is placed upon the area to be treated, and it draws the tissue into the cup through vacuum suction. The fat cells within the tissue are frozen during the 30- to 40-minute treatment. “Over time, the dead cells are naturally removed by the body’s lymphatic system. This gradually reduces the thickness of the fat layer,” explains Dr Lee.

Once the vacuum and freezer box are removed, a raised, frozen block of fat beneath the skin – about the size of a thick paperback – is seen, says Dr Lee. This has to be massaged in order for the cells to break down, and some people find this procedure painful. Dr Lee also highlights that multiple treatments might be required for large areas like the abdomen and sides of the waist, as the size of the suction cup is relatively small.

3. Zap it with radiofrequency

Radiofrequency (RF) is sometimes combined with ultrasound to act on unwanted fat deposits, while helping to improve the skin’s elasticity, says Dr Lee. This procedure uses energy to penetrate tissue deep under the skin. The heat ramps up the metabolism of fat cells and shrinks them, explains Dr Lee.

RF has an added benefit of stimulating collagen production, which helps to improve the look of sagging skin. But while it can reduce the size of fat cells, it does not permanently remove them. Says Dr Lee: “The treatment is probably better for those with smaller, shallower pockets of fat, and need skin tightening rather than permanent fat removal.”

(RELATED: Dr Rohan Mendis on 5 non-invasive aesthetic treatments that enhance your appearance)


Nothing beats fighting the flab than working out at the gym.
Nothing beats fighting the flab than working out.
Photo: Humphrey Muleba @Unsplash

The skinny on body fat

The battle of the bulge begins with knowing what type you have.


The body stores two types of fat – the “pinchable” type just beneath the skin and the deep, internal fat that is packed around the organs in your abdomen, says Dr Lee Shu Jin of Plastic Surgery by SJ Lee. The latter, known as visceral fat, is what gives you that apple-shaped figure or beer belly. An excess of this type of fat is bad for health. It produces inflammatory substances that can be damaging to the organs, says Dr Lee. Even if you look slim on the outside, you may still have too much hidden visceral fat.


Sculpting your body through aesthetic procedures may not confer the same health benefits as exercise and a balanced diet. Some studies have concluded that while treatments remove the fat under the skin, it takes dieting and exercise to reduce deeper deposits inside the organs and abdomen, which, according to Dr Lee, are risk factors for heart disease and diabetes.


Those with excessive visceral fat should reduce it through regular exercise and a diet regimen before going for any body-shaping procedure, says Dr Kenneth Thean, founder and medical director of Ensoul Medical Clinic. Non-invasive treatments – and even liposuction – should not be used as a weight loss programme for people who are overweight or obese, says Dr Lee.


Women generally have 6 to 11 per cent more body fat than men. It is also harder for them to lose fat from their hips and thighs, and reduce cellulite, no thanks to the female sex hormone, oestrogen. According to Dr Lee, the most effective way to lose fat is through diet control and a workout regimen that includes weight training and aerobic exercises.

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