Ultrasonic cavitation is a weight loss procedure that uses sound waves to convert fat cells to fatty acids, which can then be naturally flushed from the body.
Sometimes referred to as noninvasive or ultrasonic liposuction, ultrasonic cavitation’s main purpose is to reduce the appearance of fat on the body.
How Ultrasonic Cavitation Works
During your ultrasonic cavitation procedure, your doctor or provider will use a noninvasive machine to send low frequency sound waves to the treatment areas. These sound waves vibrate and heat up the fat cells below the surface of the skin, causing the cells to liquify and release into the bloodstream.
Some common areas to get ultrasonic cavitation done include:
- Hips and thighs
- Chest and back
- Upper arms
- Chin and neck
The results from ultrasonic cavitation will vary from person to person, but you can typically expect to see a more contoured appearance and reduced circumference of the treatment area.
It’s also important to note that some people may require multiple sessions to achieve their desired results, and good diet and exercise habits may be required to maintain results over time.
In most cases, ultrasonic cavitation is not used to treat cellulite. If you’re interested in treating cellulite, you may want to talk to your doctor about your options. Some common treatments for cellulite include:
- Laser treatment
- Topical treatments
Is Ultrasonic Cavitation Right for Me?
Ultrasonic cavitation may be right for you if:
- You have been unable to contour and tone areas of your body with diet and exercise alone
- You’re looking for a cosmetic procedure that requires little to no recovery time
- You’re in relatively good health
- You’re willing to eat right and exercise to help maintain the results of your ultrasonic cavitation procedure
Ultrasonic Cavitation Vs. Liposuction
Although liposuction and ultrasonic cavitation both work to reduce the appearance of fat on the body, liposuction uses a suction technique to remove fat from the body, whereas ultrasonic cavitation uses sound waves.
- During most liposuction procedures, general anesthesia is used, which means the patient is not awake and cannot feel anything during the procedure.
- Ultrasonic cavitation, on the other hand, is considered a non-invasive procedure, does not require general anesthesia, and requires minimal downtime following the procedure.
According to the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, “Despite the overall satisfaction of patients and surgeons for liposuction for body shaping purposes, there is an increasing demand for noninvasive fat reduction methods that are similarly effective, yet comfortable and safe, with minimal downtime.”
And while liposuction is still one of the most common aesthetic procedures in the U.S., it has some limitations that ultrasonic cavitation can help fill, including:
- More precise removal of fat
- Preservation of surrounding nerves
- The ability to get rid of fibrous fat
Choosing a Provider
Deciding to get a cosmetic procedure – even a non-invasive one like ultrasonic cavitation – is a big decision, and one you should consider carefully. Once you decide that ultrasonic cavitation may be right for you, it’s important to take the time to choose a provider who you know does good work and has a good reputation.
To find a reputable provider:
- Check out facilities in person. If there’s a provider or facility you have in mind for your ultrasonic cavitation procedure, pay them a visit to get a feel for the facility’s cleanliness and overall vibe.
- Talk to your friends who have had similar procedures. If you know someone who has had ultrasonic cavitation or a similar procedure, ask them if they’d recommend their provider to you and talk to you about their experience. And remember – word of mouth can be a powerful tool when it comes to finding a good provider!
Ask to see before and after photos. A good way to tell if a surgeon or provider does good work is to see examples of their work for yourself. Most providers are happy to share before and after photos with you.
Preparing for Your Appointment
Typically, ultrasonic cavitation requires little prep and the procedure itself takes only about an hour.
Prior to your procedure, your provider should go over everything you need to know to prepare, including:
- Any side effects or complications associated with the procedure
- Your risk factors
- What to expect during the procedure, and how long you can expect the procedure to last
- How to care for yourself during recovery (ultrasonic cavitation has little to no downtime, but your provider may give you specific aftercare instructions – be sure to follow them
- How to best maintain the results of your ultrasonic cavitation procedure
Your provider may also ask you some questions regarding your health and medical history to gauge whether or not you are a good candidate for ultrasonic cavitation or if there are any lifestyle changes you should make to prepare for your procedure.
Some questions you should be prepared to answer include:
- Are you taking any medications or supplements?
- Are you pregnant?
- Have you experienced any bleeding problems?
Be sure to answer these questions as accurately and honestly as possible to help ensure you don’t face complications.
Possible Risks & Complications
Although ultrasonic cavitation is typically safe, some complications may include
- Skin loss
- Motor-nerve injury
- Perforation of the abdominal wall
According to Oxford Academic Aesthetic Surgery Journal, “In well-trained hands, UAL [ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty] can be used safely in almost any area in any patient. The absolute benefit of UAL compared with that of traditional SAL [suction-assisted lipoplasty] is the ability of ultrasound to lyse fibrous tissue and fat.”
Other Non-Invasive Fat Reduction Procedures
Ultrasonic cavitation isn’t your only option when it comes to reducing fat. Some other include:
- Laser lipolysis. Laser lipolysis uses laser energy and heat to target fat cells
- Injection lipolysis. Injection lipolysis injects deoxycholic acid into the treatment area to destroy fat cells
- Cryolipolysis. Cryolipolysis freezes and destroys fat cells
Like with ultrasonic cavitation, you can typically resume your daily activities soon after the above procedures, making them popular among people who want to contour and shape their bodies without a lengthy recovery.