e.jf11.enhance.zappers The best non-invasive body shaping options mean blasting fat and cellulite without major surgery.

An all-too-familiar complaint: you exercise non-stop, but the stubborn belly fat, love handles and cellulite won't budge. More and more people are turning to popular non-invasive body contouring machines to dissolve excess fat that can't be beat with diet and exercise. And why not? When all else fails, these procedures promise to target an endless list of trouble spots without major surgery or recovery time. (Some can even be done over your lunch hour).

Although with these sculpting devices you may not have to go under the knife to blast fat and tighten skin, you can expect repeat sessions. We asked top medical experts for the lowdown on how fat reduction machines work to melt, cool or zap tricky fat, so you can decide which is right for you.

Zerona

Ideal for: Large body areas like the waist, hips and thighs that can be targeted at the same time.

This spider-like machine with five red lights uses low-level laser therapy to deflate fat cells, explains Ryan Maloney, co-developer of Zerona. The lasers target fat tissue under the skin (through photochemical reactions) to shrink the fat cells. "The cell responds to the light stimulation, where it deflates and empties out the fatty material," says Maloney. The body's lymphatic system (the network of tissues and organs that absorbs fatty acids) takes care of the rest.

Treatment cycle: The patient lies on a bed under the laser beams for 20 minutes on his or her front, then flips over for another 20 minutes on his or her back. Lasers are positioned above trouble spots for a total of 40 minutes every other day for two weeks. The best part? Maloney promises you won't feel a thing.

Benefits: Zero pain and downtime.

Results: Based on clinical trials, expect to lose nine centimetres after two weeks.

Price: The average cost is $1,800 for the two-week treatment.

Info: myzerona.com

CoolSculpting

Ideal for: Hard-to-lose areas such as the muffin top, love handles, inner thighs and banana rolls (below the buttocks).

Discovered after patients who had their skin chilled prior to surgery noticed an added benefit of fat loss in those areas, CoolSculpting permanently destroys fat cells by cooling them. A probe applicator suctions a fold of skin and chills the fat by extracting heat to the optimal temperature for cell death. "The fat is frozen solid like a stick of butter out of your deep freezer," explains Dr. Jean Carruthers, MD, FRCSC, in Vancouver, who's been using CoolSculpting since 2009. The theory is that when fat cells cool, the fatty substances inside them crystallize and cut through cell walls. You get better fat cell death if you add massage, so a registered nurse massages the area while it's warming up again after the procedure.

Treatment cycle: One hour for one to two treatments.

Benefits: Back to work the same day. There's no pain during the procedure but some people feel an ache post-treatment.

Results: About a 20 per cent fat loss in the treated area, or one to two centimetres. It takes two months to see the full effect.

Price: $750 per treatment

Info: coolsculpting.com

VelaShape

Ideal for: Cellulite. It works well on the hips, abs, love handles, butt and full thighs.

Using two applicators, one large and one small, the patented Elos technology uses two energies working together — optical light and radio frequency— to target both stubborn cellulite and achieve inch loss by liquefying fat cells. The fatty acids are flushed out through the lymphatic system, leaving behind smaller fat cells and a slimmer body. For cellulite, it uses a larger suction applicator and rollers to break up the fibrous dimples and contour the skin. "The deep tissue massage smoothes and texturizes the skin, and because of the heat you get a firming of the skin," explains Christine Paggos, a medical consultant for VelaShapeat Skin Vitality in Toronto.

Treatment cycle: One 30 to 40 minute session per week for six to eight weeks. Nutritional sessions are also available at Skin Vitality to identify any body deficiencies that could impede results. According to Paggos, there's little pain but some patients find the heat uncomfortable.

Benefits: Besides no downtime, VelaShape increases circulation while flushing out toxins, thanks to the deep massaging motions.

Results: By mid-treatment, patients can lose 5.5 to 20 centimetres. This is maintained with one session per month, alongside diet and exercise.

Price: $100 to $400 per treatment, depending on the size of the area.

Info: velashape.com

Lumicell Wave 6

Ideal for: Anyone who wants to diminish the appearance of cellulite on the legs and butt.

Called Wave 6 because it targets the six problems associated with cellulite (leg swelling, orange peel skin, dimpling, rippling, skin contour irregularities and localized fat deposits) it combines ultrasound and radio frequency technology to help push fat out of the body. Using a process called pneumatic massage, the skin is suctioned, lifted and massaged between two rollers while the patient lies on a bed. All of these methods combined improve the look of uneven, dimpled skin. The intensities can also be adjusted according to the patient's pain tolerance, says Kimberly Litinas, national trainer for Silhouet-Tone Canada, the makers of Lumicell Wave 6.

Treatment cycle: Eight to ten treatments total. One 30-to-60 minute session twice a week is recommended.

Benefits: You may feel a warming sensation but there's zero downtime.

Results: Promises to improve skin texture and smooth skin by the end of treatment.

Price: Starts at $175 per session.

Info: silhouet-tone.com

TriLipo

Ideal for: Anyone who has lax facial skin, including jowls and turkey neck. Also targets cellulite on the tummy and outer-thigh area.

On the area being treated, a hand- piece works two ways. First, it presses and heats the skin from the outside. Next, it sends a pulse through to the muscle that sits below the top layer of fat. Essentially the fat layer in between the skin and the muscle is squeezed. This sandwiching action breaks up the fat, then crushes the heated fat cells for better drainage. "Radio frequency heats the skin to the right temperature, which causes fat cells to burst," says Dr. Diane MacGillis, an MD with the Kingston Laser and Cosmetic Clinic. The fatty liquid is then slowly drained through the lymphatic system, where it eventually travels to the liver and becomes waste.

Treatment cycle: One 30-to-45 minute treatment every one to two weeks for a total of four to six treatments. A follow up treatment is needed every two to three months.

Benefits: Smoothes cellulite and tightens skin. Most people experience minimal pain but there may be slight discomfort or twitching due to the muscle contraction.

Results: Several centimetres are lost as fat is flushed through the body. It also tightens and tones saggy skin.

Price: $150 to $450 per treatment depending on the size of the area.

Info: pollogen.com

BodyTite

Ideal for: People who want to permanently remove fat with minimally invasive liposuction and who would benefit from some skin tightening too. Can be done on the face and neck region, back of the arms, flank, thighs or back. Not ideal for those with diabetes, kidney problems or heart disease.

BodyTite is a type of liposuction procedure that also uses energy to melt fat easily and gently for optimal results. It also tightens skin by 30 to 40 per cent. "One of the classic problems with liposuction is you can take the fat out, but then you're left with folds of loose skin that aren't able to tighten up," says Toronto plastic surgeon Dr. Peter Bray, MD, M.Sc., FRCSC, a BodyTite user for eight months. In addition to a cannula that surgically sucks fat from below the skin, BodyTite also uses an external hand piece to heat the fatty tissue.

Treatment cycle: Single treatment for one to two hours.

Benefits: Works well on areas of fibrous fat tissue like the back region. "It's really hard work to get the fat out of there, but because BodyTite melts and softens that, it becomes effortless," says Bray.

Results: Permanently removes an average of five pounds, which can sometimes measure as much as 10 to 12 centimetres. Patients are back to work within a week and on their feet the day after surgery.

Results: $5,000 to $6,000, so a little pricier than traditional liposuction. However, this treatment also reduces cellulite by about 50 per cent.

Info: bodytite.com

LPG's Endermologie

Ideal for: Cellulite.

Cellulite is undoubtedly tricky — it's too deep in the skin to be treated by creams, but too superficial for surgery. Endermologie, the treatment offered with LPG machines, works by smoothing and tightening dimpled skin. The patient lies on a table, and motorized rollers are mechanically massaged over the skin to suction and stimulate layers of fat tissue. The speed and direction of the rollers are adjusted depending on the area: an intermediate speed is ideal for cellulite, while deep massaging is needed to dissolve deep fat. Fat is then broken up and flushed through the body's lymphatic system. Effective on both the face and body, it's one of the only machines that's safe to use on pregnant and nursing women because there are no lasers or heat, according to Linda Mahieddine, VP of Daniele Henkel, Canadian distributor of LPG.

Treatment cycle: Two sessions per week for about eight weeks.

Benefits: Increases circulation by 400 per cent and lymphatic drainage by 300 per cent, with minimal pain. LPG can target cellulite, sagging skin and shrink fat cells (or do all three at once).

Results: Expect to see a change in weight and body shape within the first two weeks.

Price: $150 per session for a minimum of two months (about 20 sessions).

Info: lpgsystems.com

LipoSonix

Ideal for: The abdominal area. This works best for someone close to their ideal weight who has pockets of fat around their mid-section.

Approved by Health Canada to target belly fat, Liposonix employs high-energy ultrasound technology (a more intense frequency ultrasound than the one associated with pregnancy) to zap pockets of fat in a focused way. Dr. Nowell Solish, MD, FRCPC, a Toronto-based cosmetic dermatologist, has patients lie down while the machine's arm attachment focuses ultrasound energy on an area below the skin the size of about one centimetre. The heat ensures some of the fat cells will eventually die and pass through the body's lymphatic system slowly.

Treatment cycle: A single one-hour treatment with no follow up required.

Benefits: The results are permanent. There's little downtime, with mild bruising, swelling and discomfort for a few days.

Results: Eight to 12 weeks after treatment the body will have cleared and destroyed some of those fat cells that were heated up.

Price: $2,000 to $2,500 is average.

Info: liposonix.com

Cellulite is undoubtedly tricky - it's too deep in the skin to be treated by creams, but too superficial for surgery.