I've always been a very athletic person. I played softball for 14 years of my life, volleyball for 10, and basketball for eight. In fact, I was recruited for the women's volleyball team at New York University and played at a competitive level that most people never reach in their lives. It should go without saying then that I've worked hard to attain a generally healthy and fit figure. And even though most of my muscle mass and tonality from my collegiate athlete days are long gone, I still try to make it to the gym at least twice a week. Today, I may be no Gisele Bündchen, but I know I'm not obese either. Still, no matter how many two-a-day practices I clocked in on the courts or side lunges I lurch through at the gym, I've never been able to slim down my inner thighs.
Previously, a common way to target such stubborn problem spots like thicker thighs, tummy pudge, or even a double chin that won't dissipate with exercise was through liposuction. But that intrusive procedure requires downtime and can have lumpy results and weird aftereffects, like fat that settles in unusual places if the weight is ever gained back. Recently, though, I heard of a new technology called i-Lipoxcell  that gives you all the benefits of liposuction (read: targeted fat loss) without the surgery or side effects. And the best part? All it takes is 20 minutes. All in all, it's reported that i-Lipoxcell is currently the most advanced noninvasive fat reduction and body shaping system on the market today. Needless to say, I scheduled an appointment stat with leading doctor Jamé Heskett of The Wellpath  (you may have seen her on The Dr. Oz Show) to try out the new machine for myself.
How Does It Work?
i-Lipoxcell uses laser technology to zero in on fat. A dual wavelength of red light penetrates the fat cells in a targeted area and pops them open, which allows the fatty acid contents to leak out like air escaping from a balloon. This technique causes the same physiological response of a fat cell that occurs when you diet and exercise, except instead of running, lifting weights, or climbing stairs to burst open your fat cells and deflate them, i-Lipoxcell uses its signature red light. "That means this process is completely natural and is something your body expects to happen, which is why this works so well," explains Dr. Heskett. "We’re working with the natural functions of the body."
The result is fat loss that can range anywhere from a quarter of an inch up to three inches in one 20 minute session, depending on how much fat you have to lose. "Still, heavier people don’t necessarily do better than thinner people," Dr. Heskett assures. "There are visible results on patients of every size."
The reason for such successful results? Although you’re burning just 300 calories (about the equivalent of a bagel and cream cheese) in one appointment, which you could achieve in a single workout session without a problem, the difference is that the i-Lipoxcell laser burns those calories from a concentrated area as opposed to all over your body like with traditional exercise, which is why you’re able to see results in that specific region immediately. "The calories you’re burning at the gym could be from your glycogen source, which would not be from your fat at all, but this is specifically targeting fat," says Dr. Heskett. "Every little fat cell balloon in that precise area is dumping its contents during the treatment and shrinking, which is how you lose the inches."
What Happens When You Go in For the Treatment?
For starters, the i-Lipoxcell includes four laser paddles and two circulation probes. First, Dr. Heskett positioned the four paddles around the perimeter of one of my thighs. The paddles have multiple holes on the bottom where the laser light is emitted. Next, Dr. Heskett arranged both circulation probes on either side of my groin to stimulate the blood circulation so the fatty acids that were released from my thigh would enter my blood flow quickly and escape the area completely. "I’ve found through my practice that the probes make the laser work 50 times better," Dr. Heskett divulges. "This technology is unique in that it integrates this original circulation facet."
Dr. Heskett turned on the laser for 10 minutes, then reorganized the four paddles on my other thigh and repeated the process for another 10 minutes. During that time, the paddles warmed up a bit, but they didn’t turn hot. The warmth felt comforting, like a sunray kissing your thigh through a windowpane. Otherwise, I swear that I felt hardly anything at all. I maybe felt the minutest tingle after a few minutes on my outer thighs, but that could’ve been me just wanting to feel something. Beyond that, my muscles contracted a handful of times, but I’m not sure if that was from the laser or if it was from me speed-walking to my appointment just minutes before.
Beyond the laser paddles and circulation probes, the machine also comes outfitted with a vacuum massager to further increase blood circulation and enhance lymphatic drainage if needed. This kneading suction head also uses infrared technology and radio frequency to help tighten the area for those with looser skin, although we didn’t use this feature on myself. "This machine truly comes with everything to reduce fat and contour the body," says Dr. Heskett.
Are There Any Post-Op Procedures?
After 20 minutes total, I had trimmed half an inch off my thighs. Once the fat cells shrank and their fatty acids got released into my blood stream, the body uses it as energy immediately. Therefore, there’s a requirement that you do a light workout after the session in order to utilize that energy source and get rid of it, otherwise your body will just convert it right back into fat and store it again on your body. "You need to do anything that will burn about 300 calories in the span of two to four hours after the treatment," Dr. Heskett clarifies.
Since you have to deplete 300 calories worth of energy ASAP, you can only use the laser up to 20 minutes; otherwise it’s hard to burn off more calories with a low-impact workout beyond that. Sure, it may be perfectly safe and comfortable to sleep overnight with those laser paddles on my thighs and wake up with supermodel legs, but since I couldn’t burn through all those released calories quick enough, they’d ultimately just settle right back onto my body after a few hours. "You need to do multiple short treatments so you can actually expend all that energy that you’re targeting," confirms Dr. Heskett.
As such, you can complete as many short sessions as you want — according to how often you work out. "The FDA approves as many as six treatments at a time," Dr. Heskett says. "I recommend doing them no less than twice a week and no more than what you can actually exercise off until you’ve lost the amount of inches you want."
Why Does This Work Better Than All the Other In-Office Options?
As mentioned before, this treatment is both easier, quicker, and safer than more traditional forms of in-office procedures like liposuction, and Dr. Heskett says the results are even better, too. "The key with this is it doesn’t destroy the fat cell and you keep the hormonal capacity of the fat cell in-tact, so if you do put on the weight again you’re not going to gain it back in some strange place that’ll look bizarre, which can happen with liposuction," she says. "The body recognizes this process of opening the fat cells and dumping its contents, so it’s not going to fight against it."
She continues by praising it over other more modern techniques like CoolSculpting, too. "You don’t lose your blood circulation like you do with some techniques where they kill the fat cell, like with freezing," she says. "You’re not destroying any tissue, which can happen with freezing because everything in between the cells is getting frozen too, which I’ve seen can cause vessel and nerve damage. i-Lipoxcell also has completely even results because you're asking for all the fat cells at a 10-millimeter depth in a general area to shrink, so you’re not getting just a chunk out somewhere where that cold treatment was sitting." Moreover, it takes up to six weeks to see full results from cold treatments because it requires much more time for the body to flush out all that dead matter, whereas with i-Lipoxcell, the results are immediate.
Other lasers that use just radio frequency to melt off the fat don’t stand up to the i-Lipoxcell either, according to Dr. Heskett. "Radio frequency doesn’t destroy the tissue like freezing can, but you’re limited by how much you can heat up the tissue before you create some sort of damage," she says. "Radio frequency lasers are better for people with loose skin because they tighten the skin by restructuring the collagen, but they don’t shrink fat as well as this."
So How Much Does It Cost?
No matter what area you target large or small, from the calves, thighs, belly, arms, and even to the neck and chin, the i-Lipoxcell costs $250 per session for any body part.
All in all, were the results significant enough for me to turn in my gym pass completely? Of course not, and it’s not recommended to take the place of a healthy diet and exercise regimen, either. But at least now, perhaps with a few more treatments and in addition to my twice-a-week workouts, I can adequately shape up the one area that’s always rebelled against my sole physical efforts.