Now this is how to melt fat. (Photo: Getty)
It’s been a long time since I started my journey to lose weight. The process has been slow, arduous at times, but with over 77 lbs. lost and counting, I feel proud of the fact that, like so many others in this country, I saved my own life. I’m proud that my risk factors for heart disease and stroke are a thing of the past. I get to look forward to a healthy future.
However: vanity. Oh, sweet vanity.
Many who have lost significant weight will tell you about spots and regions on the body that are resistant to even the best exercise and clean eating regimens. Love handles, arm fat/bat wings, tummy pooches – they’re all annoying, resistant pockets of subcutaneous fat that refuse to respond to your efforts. Mine was the spot right over my belly button, a pouch of fat that simply would not leave. Projecting out over what I know are rock-hard abdominals underneath, it ruins the lines of clothes and causes me to still — after hundreds of classes and hours spent sweating and making good food choices — purchase blousy tops that hide my waistline.
A previous consultation with a cosmetic surgeon started conversations about liposuction, but I’m really opposed to, um, pain. Which is why when presented with an opportunity to try the BTL Aesthetics Vanquish ME, a machine recently cleared by the FDA for circumferential reduction in fat, I was very interested.
And when I was told it was pain-free and non-invasive? I don’t think I could make the appointments fast enough. And so I was off to Marmur Medical to see if we could finally dislodge my upper belly fat.
Let’s talk about how it works. “BTL Vanquish ME is the best option for non-invasive, pain-free fat reduction of widespread areas, such as the entire abdomen and flanks, thighs, or back,” explains Ellen Marmur, MD, President/Founder, Marmur Medical. “The machine is a high-tech panel system that hugs the designated area without touching, delivering invisible beams of heat waves from radiofrequency energy which evenly heats fat between layers of skin and muscle until the fat melts. It feels like a bath that is just a little too hot but is paradoxically very relaxing.”
That’s an accurate description. Upon my first treatment, my tech, Renee O’Brian, took photos of my treatment area (upper abdomen) along with my weight and body fat percentage (and some before pictures I’m dying to see.) I then lay down on a treatment bed where she proceeded to place the device (which sort of looks like the old scanners from the original Star Trek sick bay) over my body, getting the plates as close as possible without touching me. After setting the machine for maximum radiofrequency absorption, she set a timer for 15 minutes, and left me to relax in the room. She returned twice more to set the machine for two more subsequent 15 minute sessions, departing to let me nap or meditate (you can’t bring your phone or electronic devices near the machine; it would scramble them.) That’s it. I got dressed, was told to drink plenty of water, exercise as usual, and left. No downtime, no pain, no discomfort, no bruising. I didn’t actually feel anything until the fourth and final appointment, when I could really feel intense heat along the side flanks of my body. According to Renee, the machine goes deeper and deeper into your fat layers with each subsequent treatment, so that was actually a good sign. Great. I decided to focus on wearing a bikini for the first time in over a decade. No problem.
The key is to success with the device is hydration: the more water you drink, the more fat can be melted away and flushed out through your body’s normal elimination processes. “Hydration maximizes the fat reduction and keeps the procedure safe,” explains Dr. Marmur. I drank about a gallon of water per day between the appointments and my regular fitness routine of spinning and daily yoga, so I was covered.
Now, the wild thing about the results is that you don’t see anything for a while. When Renee said she’d like to see me back about two months from my final of the recommended four appointments, I thought maybe the treatment didn’t work that well. I didn’t see immediate results.
Two weeks later? Oh yes. Yes, there were most certainly results.
I can report the knot of fat over my belly button has decreased significantly, and the circumference of the area is down three inches. I can see extraordinary visual changes in my clothes, and for the first time in over a decade, I can look down and almost see my belly button. I almost cried the other day looking at my shape in a fitted shirt. This machine is the real deal.
If you’re considering pursuing an appointment, make sure you’re an ideal candidate. “The ideal patients are those with sensitive pain tolerances who can’t tolerate other procedures, but also those compliant with their diet and exercise during the treatment series, and after, for at least three months,” says Dr. Marmur. “Patients with tough, fibrous fat, compared to the soft fat are best suited. They should complete 4-6 treatments spaced weekly, and will see results within 6-8 weeks; however a lot of patients will see results within the first couple treatments.”
Let’s focus on those diet and exercise habits. “All fat reduction devices, and even liposuction, are sensitive to patient’s eating and exercise habits,” Dr. Marmur explains. “Compliance with healthy living is absolutely essential for the happiest success. However, the fat loss is permanent, and studies show about 20% of the fat layer is reduced per treatment series. It really works! Even some of our most hard-to-please patients have seen a difference!”
As my waistline continues to shrink, I’m really pleased with the results. A list of doctors who offer the treatment are available via their website, and if you’re sensitive to pain but working with a resistant, tough segment of body fat that just will not respond to exercise, you might consider it. Even though my results were immediate, as they’re slowly revealed, they were absolutely well worth it. Bikini season, I’m coming for you.