Gaining or losing weight comes down to a simple factor: the swelling or shrinking of fat cells. While there’s no set amount of time it takes for a single fat cell to swell or shrink, the cell must expand or contract just enough so that a noticeable difference can be seen. And once those fat cells have shrunk, and depending on how much, you may be left with troubling loose skin.
Noninvasive skin tighteners are big business since they are good for firming up minimally loose skin and can even get rid of small, unwanted areas of fat in some patients. They employ radiofrequency, ultrasound energy or infrared light to tighten the skin below the surface. By heating the dermis, new collagen growth is stimulated (by the activity of fibroblasts, the cells that create collagen) and produced. Rather new to the body-contouring scene, these devices that first gained popularity in Europe and most recently were brought to the U.S. shores.
But deciding on a skin tightening procedure can get a little involved, says Los Angeles dermatologist Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD. “It often depends on what areas you want tightened and whether or not you have surface skin irregularities along with skin laxity. It also depends on the level of laxity-sometimes you have nowhere to go but to a plastic surgeon if you have more than a moderate amount of skin sagging.”
As for results, at six months you’re going to see what you’re going to see results-wise, says San Antonio, TX, dermatologist Vivian Bucay, MD. For small amounts of fat and minimally loose skin, skin tighteners are a great option. It is important to know however that on average, the results from skin tighteners aren’t permanent. Maintenance sessions can be done, but results are not predictable since not everybody responds to skin tightening. Also, the “technology is not cheap, and thus the treatments themselves aren’t either. Having reasonable expectations for nonsurgical procedures is also important,” says Dr. Fitzgerald.
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