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Cheater's Guide to a Better Beach Body

A look at cosmetic procedures that can improve your appearance in time for beach season.

Losing Those Love Handles continued...

"The biggest complication with liposuction is undesirable cosmetic results," he says. "I have seen ladies who had liposuction and never should have had it because they had no fat, so they are left with dimples and irregularities," he says. The trick? "You have to know when not to do it."

For people who are good candidates, "you should do it at least three weeks before Memorial Day so the bruising will be gone in time for beach season," he says. "You will see a measurable improvement at three weeks, but you don't see final improvements until six months."

Liposuction, like all surgeries, does have its share of risks including infection.

Liposuction Alternatives

Advocates of newer fat-zapping technologies, however, may position the alternatives to liposuction as safer, but the jury is still out on most of them.

There is some buzz about LipoSonix's SonoSculpt and Ultrashape, says Reed. In a nutshell, these technologies use sound waves to break up fat. The fat is then reabsorbed. Neither are FDA-approved or available in the U.S.

"There is no question that Liposonix works," says Reed, who is one of the U.S investigators. "The results I have seen are 30% spectacular; 20% of people have no problems, but nothing that I can see as far as results. And 50% look better, but just OK," he says.

"It will have a role because the technology is good and I think it is safe," he says. "The concern was what happens to the fat. We now know that it doesn't wind up in the heart or vessels because levels of blood fats are not increased, so the safety factor has been good."

In addition, there is no incision with ultrasound procedures. Each session lasts about an hour, and patients can go right back to work after a treatment.

Buyer (or beachgoer) beware, cautions Few. "It is largely under investigation and I don't think we really have a good answer as to what this technology can reliably deliver and who makes the best candidate," he says. "Patients will always want to have a great result and no risk, but it will take time to say who will be best served by this technology."

Fat-Dissolving Treatments

Another technique that's not quite ready for prime time? Fat-dissolving injections, Few says.

If someone could simply give you an injection that would melt away your love handles or thunder thighs, you would be tempted to give it a shot, right? Who wouldn't (especially as beach season approaches)?

Call them fat-dissolving injections, mesotherapy, or Lipodisolve, but don't call them a miracle or a breakthrough. These injections are billed as a simple series of medicated shots which dissolve unwanted, small localized areas of fat. "It is not FDA approved, it's considered investigational, and there is really no good literature to support its use," Few says.

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