There are a vast number of non-surgical treatment options that have been used to provide skin tightening effects. Most of these treatments have been found to achieve only modest levels of skin tightening. We continue to see excellent results from both non-surgical laser fat reduction and laser skin tightening. Still, it is rare to have the ability to offer a treatment that combines both fat reduction and skin tightening in one treatment. It has also been unheard of until now to be able to offer a non-surgical therapy that can also be combined with surgical procedures to produce more significant skin tightening benefits while at the same time having a lesser scar burden and quicker recovery.
The answer is radio frequency technology using BodyTite for both nonsurgical skin tightening and fat reduction.
What is BodyTite?
Liposuction is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery procedure performed in the UK. The proportion of the population suffering from obesity has significantly increased and has become a significant cosmetic concern, as well as placing significant strain on the national health care system. The rise of social media has accentuated this continuing trend and has resulted in an increasing proportion of younger, healthier patients interested in liposuction or other body contouring procedures.
The increase in both non-invasive and minimally invasive body contouring procedures such as BodyTite and Morpheus8 has led to body contouring becoming more than just a procedure previously aimed at middle-aged females who have completed their family. There have been a number of revolutionary advancements in the field of body contouring, including the more accessible option of local anaesthesia outpatient treatment and advances in skin tightening techniques without the need for more invasive excisional surgery.
One of the main goals in carrying out a body contouring procedure is to safely remove fat and simultaneously tighten the skin at the same time. On top of this, it is optimal to carry out such procedures under a local anaesthetic in an outpatient setting with minimal bruising and swelling, leading to a quicker recovery and with minimal to no restriction on normal activities of daily living.
Newer liposuction forms include laser-assisted liposuction or SmartLipo and ultrasound-assisted liposuction or Vaser Lipo and have been used with varying levels of success. The disadvantage of the Vaser lipo technique is the variable extent to which skin tightening can be achieved, often with a significant risk of skin and soft tissue burns due to the large amounts of thermal energy imparted to the soft tissues. Laser lipo under a local anaesthetic is an ideal body contouring technique for patients with localised fat deposits and good skin elasticity.
The application of radio-frequency energy in medicine is a tried and tested technology used for many decades in many branches of medicine, from varicose vein treatment to use in ophthalmology. Radio-frequency energy delivered via the BodyTite platform significantly improves skin tightening compared with laser skin tightening and ultrasound techniques safely and effectively. With BodyTite and Morpheus8, the radio-frequency energy is applied directly to the target tissues via a specially designed internal probe positioned in the subcutaneous fat and an external probe which makes contact with the skin’s surface. This creates a thermal sandwich effect with all the soft tissue in between the internal and external electrodes being treated with radio-frequency energy for maximal skin contraction.
The soft tissue is treated with a very high level of safety. It allows efficient energy delivery to a wide range of body regions affected by mild to moderate skin laxity. It can achieve up to 32% skin contraction with the BodyTite system alone. This compares very favourably with other types of liposuction, which can achieve no more than 15% skin contraction.
The ability of BodyTite to achieve substantial skin and soft tissue contraction makes the procedure applicable to a much wider population of potential patients who may not have significant skin laxity severe enough to require a traditional excisional procedure such as an abdominoplasty. Still, if they were to have liposuction alone, then they may develop worsened skin laxity, as liposuction is not a treatment for skin tightening.
At Centre for Surgery, the BodyTite procedure is known as a ‘treatment gap’ procedure. This is a term used to describe the large number of patients who fall into the gap between not having skin laxity bad enough to require a skin excision procedure but not good enough to have just liposuction alone.
Several body areas are ideally suited to treatment with radio-frequency assisted liposuction, otherwise known as BodyTite. These areas include the arms, inner thighs, abdomen, male chest, lower face, and neck. These are classic areas that do not get optimal results with liposuction alone. The use of BodyTite leads to greater skin retraction than using traditional liposuction alone. Previously, it was common to aggressively perform superficial liposuction beneath the skin to achieve soft tissue contraction. This technique carried several risks, including lumpiness and irregularity. BodyTite can achieve smooth, consistent and repeatable results with excellent skin contraction and without any of the risks of superficially performed liposuction.
How does BodyTite work?
BodyTite has been offered at Centre for Surgery in our Baker Street clinic for several years, and all our surgeons agree that the treatment has been truly revolutionary in its ability to produce significant skin tightening without the need for more invasive surgery such as a tummy tuck or a facelift. BodyTite by Inmode utilises tried and tested radio frequency technology applied underneath the skin to target the dermis. Subdermal coagulation leads to stimulation of the production of new collagen and elastin, which leads to an increase in dermal thickening and an improvement in skin quality and elasticity. Achieving up to a 75% tissue reduction is often possible after only one BodyTite treatment. This has led our surgeons to describe this treatment as a ‘one and done’ procedure similar to surgical procedures such as liposuction due to the permanent long-term effects it creates. The results can be truly astounding for patients with mild to moderate skin laxity, all without the need for more invasive surgery.
The real strength of this treatment lies in the fact that it can be carried out both on its own or combined as part of a surgical procedure such as a tummy tuck, arm lift, or thigh lift. In many cases, combining BodyTite with surgical procedures often means a more conservative skin removal, as converting the entire surgical procedure into a mini procedure can occur. BodyTite means that we can carry out more mini tummy tucks in those women who have good muscle tone and who otherwise would have had to have a full tummy tuck when BodyTite is not included in treatment.
For many patients who desire mild to moderate skin tightening and combined fat reduction in commonly affected areas such as the abdomen, thighs, back and arms, most surgeons will probably choose to do BodyTite without surgical skin removal.
Liposuction combined with BodyTite
In many cases, for patients who desire more dramatic improvement or have more significant excess fat deposits, it may be better to combine BodyTite with liposuction to contour and reshape the body. Liposuction is carried out with powered cannulas and is known as PAL lipo or Microaire. Combination treatment of liposuction with BodyTite can, in many cases, match the results that could only previously be obtained with more invasive excisional surgery such as an abdominoplasty.
For patients who choose to have liposuction as a treatment on its own, there is a potential risk of residual skin laxity when the skin is not surgically removed. It is a common issue in those who already have pre-existing skin laxity or in older patients, where there is often a natural reduction in skin elasticity with age. In this case, the best treatment would be to combine BodyTite to remove excess fat and tighten the skin simultaneously to contour more effectively. Of course, every patient is different and has different needs and preferences, but with expert advice from one of our surgeons, you may be an ideal candidate for BodyTite, which may save you the time and hassle of having to undergo a potentially more invasive procedure.
Some patients commonly combine BodyTite with tummy tuck surgery. A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, can beautifully contour the abdomen and flanks for patients looking for dramatic improvements in the shape and contour of their abdomen and can simultaneously tighten the weekend abdominal musculature due to pregnancy and childbirth. In virtually all cases, weakened abdominal muscles can only be effectively addressed with surgery (rectus plication). However, skin tightening in adjacent areas can be effectively carried out with BodyTite to enhance the results of a tummy tuck procedure.
The benefits of BodyTite do not end there. BodyTite can even be combined with some of our most popular procedures, such as breast augmentation when patients are keen to increase the volume in their breasts while also wanting to get rid of that annoying bra bulge which has proven resistant to diet and exercise. The beauty of BodyTite lies in its incredible versatility, which is readily incorporated into an existing surgical procedure as a convenient add-on to enhance results with minimal extra risk. BodyTite could be the ideal minimally invasive solution for patients looking for that extra special result.
What does BodyTite involve?
BodyTite is a procedure well suited to being carried out under local anaesthetic as an outpatient. However, it may be better to have the treatment carried out under a general anaesthetic or IV sedation for the treatment of larger areas or when combined with other procedures. Once the local anaesthetic has been injected into the area requiring treatment, tiny incisions will be made through the skin, through which the BodyTite probe will be inserted to apply radio-frequency energy.
The design of the BodyTite cannula is unique in that it has two probes. The thinner end is the one that is inserted under the skin, with the larger probe sitting on top of the skin. Applying radio-frequency energy between the two probes generates controlled thermal energy, leading to liquefying of fat cells and ‘subdermal coagulation’. This tissue effect results in the production of collagen and elastin, leading to skin contraction and skin tightening. The amount of energy applied to the tissues will depend on the amount of pre-existing skin laxity. Those with more significant skin laxity may require higher energy settings for more effective tissue tightening.
The BodyTite procedure takes, on average, between one to 3 hours, depending on the number of areas of the body being treated. The treatment duration will be longer when BodyTite is combined with a tummy tuck or facelift.
What is BodyTite recovery like?
Compared with more invasive treatments such as liposuction or abdominoplasty, the downtime with BodyTite is much less. However, this will depend on whether BodyTite was carried out as a standalone procedure or if combined with surgical skin excision.
When BodyTite is carried out as a single treatment, it is normal to expect between 3 to 5 days of downtime. It is common to have some mild discomfort in the treatment area with associated bruising and swelling. The area may feel a little tender to touch, and there may be some associated temporary numbness, which will improve with time. Most patients can start gradual exercise about one to 2 weeks after the procedure. However, it is important to avoid strenuous exercise for up to 6 weeks following the procedure. The post-operative instructions will vary depending on your occupation and general activity levels so that the information may differ slightly from patient to patient. In all cases, it is very important to follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions to get the best results after the BodyTite procedure.
Combination treatment of surgical skin excision with BodyTite will result in a more extended period of downtime of up to 7 days, which patients will have to take into account when planning time off work.
When can I expect to see BodyTite results?
The appearance of the final results after BodyTite treatment will often depend on whether you had BodyTite as a standalone procedure or combined with a surgical procedure such as a tummy tuck. For patients who had BodyTite combined with liposuction or tummy tuck surgery. However, results will be seen straight away. It will take a longer period to see your final results because of prolonged bruising and swelling. The good news is that the results will continue to improve in the 3 to 4 months following the surgery as initial swelling settles down and the body’s healing process kicks in.
The skin tightening benefits of BodyTite evolve and improve with time as the underlying collagen remodels. It is not uncommon to see results improve up to 3 to 6 months following treatment with BodyTite as the skin contracts and tightens.
Are BodyTite results permanent?
The results of treatment with BodyTite should be seen as a long-term solution. In many cases, it may be permanent if patients maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as eating sensibly and exercising regularly. However, everyone will continue to age, and ageing does lead to a gradual increase in skin laxity over time, but this worsening of skin laxity will be much less than for patients who have had no treatment at all.