The pen marks on Sabrina Olivera's stomach are framing the area she calls her trouble spot. Not enough trouble to make her consider liposuction, but still not as flat as she would like.
"I run, I exercise, I chase my kids around, I eat right, but I just have this little problem area," says Olivera.
So now, she's having a new cosmetic procedure that promises to melt away fat cells without surgery. It uses a handheld device called the Vaser Shape.
"This is a dual-headed, ultrasonic externalized treatment that treats underlying fat," says plastic surgeon R. Laurence Berkowitz, M.D.
Berkowitz says the Vaser combines two ultrasonic signals that penetrate and combine under the skin to heat the fat cells, without burning the skin. While it doesn't remove as much fat as traditional liposuction, he says it is effective for trimming small areas of the body.
"The front of the knees, the thighs, the lower abdomen that's not quite enough fat to warrant liposuction," says Berkowitz.
Once the treatment starts, Berkowitz uses an external heat gauge to monitor the patient's skin temperature to prevent overheating. He says the goal is to generate just enough heat to liquefy the fat cells, so they can be carried out of the body by the patient's liver and lymphatic system.
In the final stage of the treatment, the technician uses another device. Berkowtiz says it helps push the fat cells into the bloodstream.
"...And encouraging it toward the lymphatic system," says Berkowitz.
Although results can vary, Olivera says she would be happy with just a modest improvement.
"Maybe my pinch test will be a little smaller," says Olivera. "I'm just looking for a little more tightness. You know, no pudge over the jeans."
The Vaser Shape requires five separate treatments spread out over several weeks. The total cost is around $2,500. Keep in mind, the results are much more subtle than traditional liposuction.
Written and produced by Tim Didion