Nonsurgical Fat Reduction

Noninvasive fat reduction – Minimally invasive fat reduction – Noninvasive body contouring

In addition to surgical procedures, we now have numerous nonsurgical options to permanently remove unwanted stores of fat while leaving healthy surrounding tissue unaffected. The most recent approaches use:

  • CoolSculpting – uses cold temperatures that shock fat cells
  • Kybella – uses a synthetic form of a chemical that is naturally found in the body to disrupt and reduce fat cells under the chin
  • Vanquish– uses radiofrequency to heat fat cells
  • SculpSure – uses laser energy to heat and disrupt targeted fat cells while at the same time keeping the skin cool
  • Ultrashape - uses focused pulsed ultrasound waves to create heat to destroy the fat cells
  • Liposonix – uses high intensity sound waves to create heat and destroy fat cells

Who Is a Candidate for Nonsurgical Fat Reduction?

  • An individual who is in good health, preferably within 15 pounds of ideal body weight.
  • An individual who has fatty bulges that have not been eliminated by diet and exercise.
  • An individual who is not willing or able to have cosmetic surgery to eliminate fat stores.

Who Is Not a Candidate for Nonsurgical Fat Reduction

  • An individual with loose skin or poor tone.
  • An individual whose weight is unstable.
  • An individual who expects to see significant fat reduction immediately after the procedure.
  • An individual who has a health condition that is contraindicated for chosen modality

Intended Results of Nonsurgical Fat Reduction

  • CoolSculpting – The treatment areas are identified and marked. An appropriately-sized applicator is selected. A gel pad is placed against the skin. As it is applied, the fatty bulge is drawn into the hollow of the applicator with vacuum power, where it is cooled and numbed. After one hour, the vacuum turns off and the treated area is massaged.

  • Kybella – The treatment areas are identified and marked. A temporary tattoo grid pattern is applied to treatment area. Local anesthesia may be injected into the treatment area prior to injection. A precise amount of medicine is injected in the treatment area. A stinging sensation is felt during injection that resolves shortly after injection.

  • Vanquish – The treatment areas are identified and marked. Applicator is applied one centimeter from the surface of the skin for approximately 30 minutes. Warmth is felt during treatment.

  • SculpSure – The treatment areas are identified and marked. The applicator is applied for 25 minutes, during which the patient will initially feel a cooling sensation, followed by intermittent warming and/or tingling sensations.

  • Ultrashape – The treatment areas are marked. A thin layer of gel is applied to the skin. The ultrasound transducer head is moved by a clinician over the treatment area. Warmth is felt during treatment.

  • Liposonix - The treatment areas are identified and marked. A clinician holds the hand piece on your skin. Patients can feel cold, prickling, or warmth.

Healing and Recovery for Nonsurgical Fat Reduction

  • CoolSculpting – area appears flush and potentially bruised in the treatment area. flushing dissipates shortly after treatment. Mild soreness in area for a few days after the treatment, sometimes patients will experience moderate soreness. Numbness is expected following treatment and can last up to several weeks.

  • Kybella - Bruising from injection is a possibility. Area injected is expected to have heavy swelling for the first few days that resolves typically over the next week. Firmness can last up to a few weeks after injection. Subsequent treatments tend to have less swelling than initial treatment.

  • Vanquish - Area treated is warm to touch after treatment with potential mild swelling that resolves shortly after treatment is complete

  • Sculpsure - Mild tenderness and swelling in treatment area after procedure that may last up to a week

  • Ultrashape - Mild tenderness, redness, and thirst can be experienced after treatment which typically resolves over a few hours.

  • Liposonix - Redness in treatment area which usually resolves after a few hours. Swelling may also occur and generally resolves in a few days.


The specific risks and the suitability of this procedure for a given individual can be determined only at the time of consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk. Minor complications that do not affect the outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are rare.

Are you considering Nonsurgical Fat Reduction? Visit our Find a Surgeon Directory to find a highly-qualified cosmetic surgeon near you.

Reviewed by Irene Gladstein, MD, FACS a board-certified oculoplastic surgeon and medical director at ENHANCE Aesthetic Arts with locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York.