- VelaShape offers a new alternative for those looking to slim down and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- The procedure is often compared to CoolSculpting, though both treatments have their pros and cons.
- Lunchbreak body contouring could make you look slimmer and more youthful in just a few sessions.
VelaShape is one of the latest innovations in non-invasive body contouring and cellulite treatment. These procedures sculpt the body via lasers, radio frequency energy and other technologies to smooth out the skin, and make you appear trimmer and slimmer.
While VelaShape has been turning heads, like all “miracle” procedures it’s important to approach it knowing both its benefits and limitations. In this article, we take a look at VelaShape’s promises and results to find out if its periodic maintenance treatments are worth it.
What is VelaShape?
The makers of VelaShape claim that in just three treatment sessions, patients see a dramatic reduction in circumference and cellulite. The procedure can be used to target the neck, arms, flank, buttocks, love handles, abdomen, and thighs. The most promising aspects of VelaShape is that there’s almost no downtime and the risks are minimal to non-existent.
According to its maker, Syneron Candela, VelaShape uses infrared light and bipolar radio frequency energy to deeply heat the fat cells as well as the surrounding connective tissue and underlying dermal collagen fibers. It also uses a vacuum and massage rollers to stimulate the growth of new collagen and elastin to tighten skin.
Body shaping techniques are preferred by many as they’re significantly less invasive and costly than plastic surgery. VelaShape is no different in these regards. Patients often describe the treatment as feeling like a warm, deep-tissue massage. The mechanical massage from the rollers is actually said to help relax patients. In other words, the procedure is being touted as being more pleasant than painful.
VelaShape had some initial difficulty getting off the ground. Its first few iterations required many more treatment sessions — sometimes as many as ten — than its latest form, VelaShape III. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared VelaShape for use as a treatment for circumferential and cellulite reduction, and it’s considered to be a relatively safe treatment option.
Each VelaShape session takes between 20 minutes and two hours. Treatment times vary depending on the area of the body that’s being treated. As previously mentioned, VelaShape claims to provide excellent results in just three sessions, but generally a minimum of four sessions per year are recommended to maintain results.
The deep heating sensation is often considered enjoyable by patients. There are no needles, incisions, or anesthesia required. Results are generally seen in as little as four weeks. Additionally, patients may experience an increase in blood circulation with VelaShape due to the combination of massage rollers and vacuum suction, which stimulate collagen and elastin.
Who can get VelaShape?
Like most cosmetic procedures, VelaShape isn’t right for everyone. Its makers are quick to point out that it’s not a weight loss treatment. Rather, it contours the body and eliminates circumferential mass, making you appear thinner and more youthful.
For that reason, it’s only recommended for people with mild cellulite and a body mass index (BMI) of less than 30. You can use the pinch test for a rough estimate of your BMI.
The Nurnberger-Muller Cellulite Scale is often used to determine the severity of one’s cellulite. VelaShape is recommended for those who fall within the range of Stage 1 and 2 cellulite based on this scale:
- Stage 1: No dimpling while the patient is standing or lying down, but the pinch test reveals the “orange peel” appearance.
- Stage 2: “Orange peel” dimpling appears spontaneously when standing up, but not when lying down.
- Stage 3: “Orange peel” dimpling appears spontaneously both when standing up and lying down.
Does it actually work?
Let’s get to the cold, hard data to see whether VelaShape is all it’s cracked up to be. Clinical trials show that VelaShape is, indeed, effective in reducing the circumference of the abdomen, flanks, love handles, butt and thighs.
Within three months, patients experienced a 0.6 inch reduction in the circumference of the abdomen, a 0.2 inch reduction in the circumference of the buttocks, and a 0.5 inch reduction in the circumference of the thighs.
According to Dr. Reza Tirgari of Avalon Laser in Southern California, VelaShape can also be used on a wide range of areas of the body.
“It’s uncommon that so many problem issues can be addressed with just one treatment method,” says Tirgari. “VelaShape has proven itself valuable at targeting many of the most common concerns that clients face. It is also non-invasive, quick and painless compared to many other methods on the market.”
In another study, VelaShape was used as a post-pregnancy treatment for reducing cellulite and laxity in women who had recently given birth.
The study found that the average reduction was approximately 0.2 inches, and that subjects saw significant improvements in skin laxity and tightening. It also concluded that the experience caused minimal pain, and that there were no major safety concerns associated with the procedure or recovery.
Comparing VelaShape with other body-sculpting options
The latest version of the VelaShape treatment is often compared to another body-contouring system: CoolSculpting.
Both treatments are non-invasive and claim to quickly provide cellulite and circumferential reduction. The primary difference between the two procedures is that CoolSculpting uses an FDA-cleared freezing technique, whereas VelaShape uses radiofrequency energy to zap fat.
VelaShape is proven to reduce cellulite for a longer period than CoolSculpting. Clinical studies show that those who underwent the VelaShape procedure reported that their cellulite was reduced for a year or longer. CoolSculpting, on the other hand, may only get rid of your cellulite for a few weeks.
Patients who undergo CoolSculpting tend to experience more bruising and discomfort after treatment. That being said, CoolSculpting may last longer in terms of circumferential reduction.
VelaShape has also been compared to Endermologie, the pioneer of cellulite treatments. Endermologie uses physical stimulation — a mechanical massage, similar to VelaShape’s — to tone the body and remove cellulite. Like VelaShape, this procedure requires no downtime.
Endermologie tends to require more sessions, with the standard being a 30 to 60 minute session once or twice per week for several weeks. Both are effective, but Endermologie is more likely to provide long-term results.
There’s a downside to everything
The biggest drawback of VelaShape — or any body contouring treatment, really — are that it’s meant to be a supplemental treatment. This, the fact that results are temporary, and the limitations of the procedure for those with high BMI, leaves VelaShape with a more than its share of considerations.
Dr. David Greuner, the Surgical Director of NYC Surgical Associates, warns that VelaShape isn’t right for everyone. “VelaShape results aren’t guaranteed and they vary from person to person depending on the frequency and duration of treatment, as well as the fat cell density.”
VelaShape also only provides a temporary reduction in fat and cellulite, which cannot compare to traditional fat removal methods like liposuction or a tummy tuck. It doesn’t remove fat cells, but instead reduces the amount of fat inside cells, or shrinks them. Therefore, it’s possible for the cells to collect fat again over time.
Some plastic surgeons recommend VelaShape alongside liposuction, tummy tuck surgery, and additional body-contouring procedures.
Many plastic surgeons and specialists recommend that you schedule follow-up visits every few months after your treatment for optimal results. Maintenance treatments can help prevent the treated area from gathering more fat.
“VelaShape is not permanent and requires regular maintenance and ongoing sessions, every one to two months,” says Greuner. “Due to the ongoing maintenance required, VelaShape can become quite costly.”
So the bottom line is this: VelaShape can certainly provide you with temporary positive results, but it will cost you.
There’s no shortage of VelaShape reviews online, and while they can help you get a good grasp on whether or not this treatment might be right for you, it’s important that you always speak to a board-certified plastic surgeon about your personal scenario before committing to any body shaping procedure.
- Winter, M. L. (2009) Post-pregnancy body contouring using a combined radiofrequency, infrared light and tissue manipulation device. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 11(4) 229-235
- Adatto, M.A., Adatto-Neilson, R.M. & Morren, G. Lasers Med Sci (2014) 29: 1627. doi.org/10.1007/s10103-014-1564-x