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Ultrasonic Cavitation
  • Ultrasonic cavitation, is a non-invasive, non-surgical fat removal technique that’s gaining in popularity.
  • The procedure requires roughly a dozen half-hour long treatments, wherein a specialist bursts fat using low-frequency ultrasound waves.
  • Patients report virtually no side effects, no pain and good results (so far) when using ultrasonic cavitation to slim down.

As far as body contouring procedures go, few options provide as much promise as ultrasonic cavitation. Although there are some downsides to this treatment — also known as ultrasound cavitation, cavi-lipo, or simply ultra cavitation — the potential gains have been turning heads.

We could all use a minimally invasive, low-cost way to get rid of stubborn fat and cellulite, but every time a new miracle treatment pops up on the market, it seems that it’s quickly filed in the “too good to be true” category.

A relatively new body contouring treatment claiming to zap away fat cells via sound waves is here, and we’re going to get into the nitty-gritty to see whether it’s worth putting in the “legit” pile or if it’s just another disappointment.

As you know, there are hundreds of different fat-busting body sculpting options on the scene. These treatments require the use of machines that deliver bursts of cold air, radiofrequency energy, or lasers to zap away fat cells, cellulite, and stretch marks.


You may be asking, which minimally invasive body contouring option is best for you. It all comes down to your desired results, budget, and targeted area. In this article, we’ll discuss how ultrasonic cavitation stacks up to the other body sculpting treatments out there.

Body contouring

RELATED: Liposuction vs. Coolsculpting

What is Ultrasonic cavitation?

Ultrasonic cavitation is a less invasive liposuction alternative that uses ultrasonic waves that separate fat cells for removal from the body. The treatment was first introduced in Milan, Italy in 2005, and gained much popularity in Europe. Today, it’s gaining steam in the U.S. for reducing the circumference in the waist, upper arm, thighs, hips, chin, back, and belly.

During a series of ultrasound cavitation treatments, fat is turned into free fatty acids, which are easier for the body to get rid of.

A specialist or doctor uses non-invasive machines to target areas of the body with low-frequency ultrasound waves. The waves penetrate the skin and create bubbles around the fat deposit, which then burst, causing the body to get rid of them naturally through urine and the lymphatic system.

Proponents of ultrasonic cavitation say that the technology leaves behind toned and tightened skin. Like most forms of body contouring, ultrasonic cavitation treatment is not for extreme weight loss. Instead, it provides body shaping and skin tightening in certain problem areas.

In other words, it won’t provide the same fat removal power as liposuction, but it might help you slim down those love handles or upper arms.

It’s classified as a circumferential reduction treatment, and not a fat reduction treatment. This, essentially, means that you won’t be able to measure your success by how much fatty tissue you’ve lost, but instead by how many inches you’ve shrunk in your treatment area.

Generally speaking, circumferential reduction is enough for people who just want to smooth, tighten, and tone a specific body area.

What’s interesting about this treatment is that, when compared with other treatment options, it uses a special device that has many medical benefits.

The ultrasonic cavitation machine essentially fragments body tissue with low fiber content, without compromising the tissue structure surrounding it. Therefore, it’s sometimes used during cancer treatment and surgeries, especially those involving the pancreas or liver.

While ultrasonic cavitation is often compared to VASER liposuction — as they both use ultrasound technology to encourage fat loss — VASER liposuction typically requires the use of a traditional cannula to physically remove fat cells.

On the other hand, the ultrasonic cavitation technology “bursts” fat bubbles so that the body can then process and remove them itself.

What to expect from your Ultrasonic cavitation treatment

Interestingly, it is possible to perform the treatment at home using devices by Gizmo, Beauty Star, and Segbeauty, among others. These machines range in price, with some costing as little as $125 and others as much as $700.

Doctors and aestheticians may also perform the procedure in-office, with treatments such as UltraShape, but they typically report that the results are less satisfactory than those of more proven fat removal techniques.

Whether performed at-home or in a clinic, patients generally report feeling no pain and no heat during their treatment session. They will occasionally report a slight humming.

There’s virtually no downtime and very few side effects associated with the treatment. Some patients even report that the treatment is relatively relaxing, and that they felt like they could read a book or nap during treatment.

For the best results, most patients require between ten and 12 treatments, but you’ll see up to one to 2 inches (5 cm) of circumference reduction within five treatments. Each treatment session lasts for around 30 to 50 minutes. To get the most out of your treatments, doctors recommend drinking water, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising regularly in-between sessions.

In fact, it’s important that patients drink at least 3 pints (1.5 L) of water before and after ultrasonic cavitation treatments in order to help the body expel the fatty acids.

If performed in-office, your doctor or technician will probably tell you to follow a low-calorie, low-carb diet for at least a day before the procedure, which will help you better burn fatty acid during the treatment and just after.

For many patients, a solution that offers long-term results is worth the extra money and time. Doctors who perform ultrasound liposuction say that the fat cells treated with low-frequency sound waves won’t return, so they do provide a permanent effect. Still, it’s important to maintain a healthy diet and exercise to keep the fat off.

For the most part, people who are looking for a way to tighten and tone are eligible for ultrasound cavitation. Anyone with a pacemaker, a cardiac or vascular disease, or another serious condition may not be eligible from this treatment. Due to the potential for metabolic harm in the cavitation process, people with diabetes should avoid this treatment.

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Ultrasonic cavitation vs. other body contouring options

The primary difference between ultrasonic cavitation and other body contouring options is that its fat-busting mechanism is ultrasound waves. There are a few other things that make it stand out from the rest, though.

Understanding how ultrasonic cavitation stacks up to other treatments will help ensure that you get the right results for your body type, timeframe, and budget.

Laser liposuction

With laser liposuction, fat cells are targeted using minimally invasive laser technologies instead of the ultrasonic waves implemented through cavi-lipo.

The primary difference between the two treatments is that, with laser liposuction — which usually lasts several hours per treatment — fat is extracted through a cannula, much like with traditional liposuction. This means that it typically requires anesthesia and more downtime. What’s more, ultrasonic cavitation tends to cost less than laser liposuction.

Cryolipolysis (CoolSculpting)

When you think of CoolSculpting, you probably picture a technician blasting fat with ice-cold air. Using cryolipolysis technology, CoolSculpting lowers fat cells to 39°F (4°C), which crystallizes them and allows the body to get rid of fat cells naturally.

CoolSculpting is one of the most well-researched body contouring options out there, so it’s efficacy is proven to a higher degree than ultrasonic cavitation. Both procedures are comfortable, non-invasive, and pain-free.

» Is Coolsculpting better than an ultrasonic cavitation treatments in your case? Use our virtual consultation tool to discuss this with a cosmetic doctor near you from the comfort of your own home.

Laser body contouring (SculpSure)

Another form of body contouring, SculpSure uses a 1060 nanometer laser to disrupt fat cells. These lasers target adipose tissue and heat them up to between 107-116°F (42-47°C), which damages the structural integrity of the fat cells.

The body’s lymphatic system gets rid of these damaged cells naturally. Most people require several treatments for the best results.

VASER liposuction

The cavitation effect of ultrasonic cavitation using ultrasound waves is really what makes it so similar to VASER. In medical environments, cavitation refers to the process of forming bubbles which break apart fat.

However, VASER liposuction requires the insertion of a tube to physically remove the fat after its broken apart via sound waves, whereas during ultrasonic cavitation, the body eliminates it naturally. As a result, VASER tends cause more scarring, require more downtime, lead to additional swelling and create more bruising.

Surgical body contouring

Of course, there are ways to reduce fat through surgery. One example of surgical body contouring is Athenix, which uses a water-assisted liposuction machines to dislodge fat that is then sucked out by traditional surgical cannulas.

Similarly, Sono Bello procedures use power-assisted liposuction machines in conjunction with cannulas. These body contouring options are not quite as invasive as traditional liposuction or tummy tucks, but they still use certain traditional surgical techniques to get rid of the fat. This allows patients to get the best results relatively quickly — usually with just one treatment session — but they also leads to more side effects and a longer recovery time than ultrasonic cavitation.

Cold laser (Zerona)

This FDA-approved non-surgical body contouring option uses a cold laser to emulsify fatty tissue in the treated areas. It can be seen as a mix between CoolSculpting and laser liposuction. Patients are required to undergo six painless, 20-minute treatments for the best results.

The downside of Zerona is that recovery must be accompanied by serious diet and exercise, as results aren’t as long-lasting as other types of body contouring treatments.

Leaving it to the professionals

One of the most important things to consider when deciding on any cosmetic surgery procedure is that your doctor will have the answer to which one is best for you.

While it is good to know your options and to get an idea of which procedures best suit your aesthetic goals, an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can provide the best option for your needs.

» The first step in your body contouring journey should be to find a board-certified plastic surgeon that you can trust.

Ask a Cosmetic Doctor on Zwivel

Got a question about a cosmetic treatment? With over 2,000 doctor answers and counting, the Zwivel forum is the best place to get expert professional opinions.

Hundreds of questions have already been answered:

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