I’ve done my share of crunches. Pilates 100s? I’ve done a million. I work out regularly and am fit and trim. Still, like many women, I have a bit of a tummy. It looked darling in my toddler-in-a-tutu pictures, but now, not so much. So when I heard about Vanquish, the non-invasive, permanent procedure to whittle the waist, I snapped to attention.
Vanquish is a revolutionary radio-frequency (RF) device that selectively targets problematic midsection areas and permanently destroys adipose (or fat) tissue in a series of four, half-hour treatments spaced over a period of four weeks. It is offered in Denver at the DermaSpa at Asarch Center for Dermatology. DermaSpa was among the first handful of facilities to offer Vanquish when it debuted in July, 2013. Dr. Richard Asarch, who also is an Associate Professor of Dermatology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, believes Vanquish is one of the most exciting and significant breakthroughs in body contouring he has seen in his 30 years practicing medicine. “I have been involved in fat remodeling procedures for many years. Vanquish is the only device that can actually destroy fat cells—permanently—in a noninvasive fashion,” he says.
The Quest for the Grail
First, there was liposuction, a surgical procedure with anesthesia, pain, post-lipo girdle-like garments and a long recovery time. Lipo still removes the largest quantity of fat, but even with lasers, it remains an invasive procedure with plenty of downtime. Cryolipolysis or “freezing the fat” cools fatty tissue below body temperature (but above freezing) causing localized cell death followed by a local inflammatory response that gradually over the course of several months results in a reduction of the fatty tissue layer. “Using extreme cold that freezes the skin is non-invasive, but it is painful, requires several long treatments and allows treatment of one small area at a time, like a love handle,” says Dr. Asarch. Transient local redness, bruising and numbness of the skin are common side effects of the treatment but gradually subside.
Less intense radiofrequency devices cause fat deposits to leave the fat cells, but the result is temporary. “Picture fat cells as grapes,” he says. “Less intense radiofrequency shrinks them like raisins, but they are still there.” Raisins waiting to plump up after the holidays or vacation indulgences.
Doctors across the country are calling Vanquish a “breakthrough.” In clinical trials, the average loss in waist circumference was 2.23 inches with some patients reporting up to five inches lost after two months. The Vanquish candidate is fit, within 10 percent of her ideal weight and one whose weight does not fluctuate more than about 10 pounds in a year. “Vanquish is ideal for someone with stubborn areas that just do not respond to diet and exercise,” Dr. Asarch says.
The patient lies underneath a device that positions panels close to, but not touching, the abdomen and flanks. Using radio-frequency waves, the device heats the skin to a surface temperature of 101 degrees while the underlying adipose tissue reaches 120 degrees. Patients have compared the feeling to sitting next to a radiator or under a sun lamp. The machine distinguishes between fat and muscle tissue; the RF waves do not penetrate deeply enough to affect any internal organs. It’s important to drink plenty of water for 24 hours before the procedure and for a couple of days afterward so your body can whisk away the destroyed fat cells through its normal processes.
My Vanquish Experience
The nurse took my measurements, but I have my own gauge—a form-fitting knit dress. During each of the treatments, I relaxed on the table feeling pleasant warmth on my abdomen and flanks and thinking that this is too comfortable to possibly work. However, even before my treatment cycle ends I notice a subtle change. I slip on my tight, new dress. My husband is wowed!
A Sensible Approach
While he is known for introducing innovative, effective treatments to Denver, Dr. Asarch doesn’t embrace every trend. “I use a series of steps before offering any procedure. First, there has to be a need that my patients want addressed. There has to be a well-researched, safe treatment modality that has been shown to be effective,” Dr. Asarch says. “I speak to the physicians who have performed the early studies to get a firsthand evaluation. Further, the company must have a philosophy to continually fund further research.” Understanding a client’s needs and expectations is a key part of the consultation at DermaSpa. Because DermaSpa offers a range of options, clinicians can recommend the optimal body sculpting procedure, be it skin tightening with the Exilis treatment to full laser-assisted SLIM Lipo for patients. DermaSpa offers cosmetic procedures for facial rejuvenation as well.
Of course, exercise and a sensible diet contribute to our overall health and well-being and let us look and feel our best. Vanquish or another procedure won’t take their place. DermaSpa sends every Vanquish client home with a booklet on maximizing body contouring procedures and a copy of Dr. Asarch’s book, The Beautiful Skin Diet, which is full of delicious recipes for healthy living.
Kimberly Field is a frequent contributor to Colorado Expression.