When it comes to non-surgical body contouring treatments, the lack of downtime is often the draw — and it’s a considerable one! That said, whether you’re heading in for Emsculpt Neo®, CoolSculpting®, Qwo™, or any of the other minimally invasive procedures on the market, there are still some post-procedure recommendations that help streamline the recovery process and improve results.
“Just like surgical procedures, we have extensive information and tips for our patients to better prepare and enjoy the results of these non-surgical procedures,” says Ryan Neinstein, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in New York City. While they can be performed alone, he notes that “non-surgical services are the perfect complement to surgical procedures for long-term maintenance and enhancement of results.”
Here, we caught up with top dermatologists and plastic surgeons to get their best advice on some of the most popular non-surgical body contouring procedures they’re doing of late.
Types of Non-Surgical Body Contouring
Non-surgical body contouring procedures generally fall into one of the following categories:
- Fat freezers via cryolipolysis (think: CoolSculpting®)
- Fat melters with lasers, radiofrequency (RF), and/or thermal energy (i.e. SculpSure®, Vanquish™, TruSculpt®, etc.),
- Electromagnetic muscle toners (à la Emsculpt®)
- Fat-dissolving, cellulite-smoothing, and collagen-building injectables (hi, Kybella®, Qwo™, hyper-diluted Radiesse® or Sculptra®)
None of these treatments are for weight loss. Instead, they are designed to fine-tune problem areas — like the stomach, thighs, upper arms, or butt — for a more sculpted appearance. And, while all of these procedures use different technology to destroy unwanted fat, tone muscles, or smooth cellulite, they are all technically considered ‘no downtime’ treatments. Even so, following this advice will help optimize your results:
1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
The number one piece of post-procedure advice from all of our experts? Drink up. “Stay hydrated during and after the procedure, as it is thought that it may help eliminate fat cells faster,” says Marie Hayag, MD, a board certified dermatologist in NYC. Water is the beverage of choice, and alcohol should be avoided.
2. Skip the Salt
In the same vein, keep your sodium intake in check. “The body has been placed in a short term inflammatory condition, so we encourage limiting salt intake to essentially zero and refrain from alcohol use for 48 hours,” Dr. Neinstein notes. “Both will contribute to swelling and bloating.” Paul Jarrod Frank, MD, a NYC-based board certified dermatologist, also emphasizes the importance of avoiding salt, especially in between Emsculpt Neo® treatments.
While you’re at it, lay off sugar and simple carbohydrates that can cause inflammation in favor of a well-balanced, healing diet that consists of lean protein, plant-based fats, unprocessed carbohydrates, and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables (think: vitamins A, C, E).
3. Avoid the Gym
While you may be motivated to hit the gym to bolster the results, keep your routine simple (read: restful) for the first day or two. At Dr. Neinstein’s practice, patients are asked to wait 24 hours before exercising in order to allow the metabolic toxins to be flushed out and for muscle recovery. Since the treatment area may be tender, Dr. Hayag says to take it easy and “wear loose, comfortable clothing after the procedure to help minimize any possible soreness.”
4. Make Sure to Massage
Some treatments, including CoolSculpting® and hyper-diluted biostimulatory injectables (like the ones found in Dr. Frank's PFRANKMD BIOSTIM treatment), require massage during and after treatment to improve the outcome.
For patients who are injected with hyper-diluted Radiesse® and Sculptra®, Jennifer Levine, MD, a double board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in NYC, preaches the “five-five-five” rule. Massage the treatment area for five minutes, five times a day, for five days. “We generally massage our patients post-treatment,” Dr. Franks adds. But don’t use it as an excuse to go to the spa. “Avoid going to a masseuse for one to two weeks,” he cautions.
In the case of CoolSculpting®, studies show that patients who receive post-treatment manual massage enjoy a “consistent and discernible increase” in fat reduction. Data from two and four months later show improved fat destruction of 40 to 70 percent.
5. Consider Compression
Compression garments are most commonly recommended after surgical body contouring treatments (think: tummy tucks, arm lifts, thigh lifts, and even liposuction), but certain non-surgical procedures may benefit from it as well. Dr. Levine suggests “some light compression” after Qwo™ injections. Be sure to check with your provider before wearing to ensure it will not interfere with results.
6. Supplement with Skincare
You may consider supplementing your body sculpting session with a topical treatment. After Qwo™, for example, Dr. Levine says applying arnica gel to the treatment area can help minimize swelling. She also likes the Alastin TransForm Body Treatment, which “has been proven to show improvement in fat reduction” after procedures like EmSculpt Neo®, SculpSure®, and CoolSculpting®.
The body cream is also a favorite at Dr. Hayag’s practice. “It enhances and accelerates the results of non-surgical body contouring procedures by supporting the body's natural repair processes,” she says. As she explains, hexapeptide-11 “aids in clearing away fat cells that have been broken down” during treatment, and the formula also helps “improve skin's hydration levels, crepiness, and overall texture.”
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