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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.

Fat-Dissolving Treatments continued...

In general, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. "The idea of getting something done that offers everything without risks is appealing, but we need to see the studies showing that it works," he says. The American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) recently released a position statement to its members stating that they do not endorse fat-dissolving injections. "Such therapies not only lack objective proof of safety and efficacy, they also lack Food and Drug Administration approval," the group writes.

"Patients seeking fat-dissolving treatments should be educated about the lack of clinical data supporting these treatments and cautioned to wait until there is reliable information to guide their decision," says Alan H. Gold, MD, president of the Aesthetic Surgery Education and Research Foundation (ASERF) in a news release. "For now, the only proven method for eliminating unwanted fat cells is suction assisted lipoplasty, a procedure that has a long and successful track record for both safety and effectiveness."

Another fat-melting technology generating buzz and headlines is called SmartLipo, but don't believe the hype just yet, cautions Ariel Ostad, MD, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University Medical Center.

Basically, Smartlipo adds a laser to traditional liposuction. "The laser generates heat, which helps liquify the fat and then the fat is suctioned out," Ostad explains.

"It's indicated for small areas like the chin and arms, but we can't use it in large areas," he says. "It's a great technology, but it's still too early to say that it is safe or effective," he says. "It's really wait and see."

The bottom line, experts say: if you want to get rid of excess fat, traditional liposuction is still the way to go.

Tucking Your Tummy

Tummy tucks are very popular among moms who are finished having children, says Reed. "There is a marginal scar that is like one-half the size of Cesarean-section scar, there is minimal downtime, it looks good right away," he says. In fact, abdominoplasties or tummy tucks were among the top five cosmetic surgical procedures performed in 2006, according to statistics from the ASAPS. Simply stated, a tummy tuck involves removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. "You can't use your abs for six weeks, but can do everything else," he says.

Dermal Fillers and Botox

If it's your dream to roll out of bed and hit the beach looking your best, you are not alone. "Patients are, in general, clamoring for things that will allow them to feel more comfortable without makeup," Few says. To that end, "we are seeing an increased interest in facial enhancement and injections such as dermal fillers and Botox," he says. The newest kid on the block is Perlane. This filler was FDA-approved in early May 2007. It is useful for moderate to severe facial folds and wrinkles.

Brush Up on Beauty

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