Cheating Mother Nature: Noninvasive beauty treatments that slim and sculpt

Relax in the SenSpa warming room before and after your treatment. Photo: SenSpa

When stubborn fat lumps won’t disappear with exercise, what’s a girl gonna do? Many fit women are familiar with this dilemma: You finally reach your target weight but have lost weight in all of the wrong places and have “the sunken-face syndrome.” In extreme cases like in the Biggest Loser, you can see the dramatic side-by-side effect at the final reveal. Sure, the contestants fit into a smaller pair of jeans, but a drawback to losing weight is looking older with a sunken-in face. This is why spot treatments have become the talk of the beauty world.

With cosmetic procedures making debuts on reality shows, people have become aware that not all hourglass figures come naturally. Procedures like Coolsculpting, a method to target fat in specific areas by freezing and killing off fat cells, have received a lot of attention lately. Reality TV has taken the secrecy out of cosmetic procedures and made them a household topic. Also, the advances in these types of aesthetic-enhancing techniques have helped make noninvasive body contouring a procedure you can get on your lunch break.

Having it all might sound like an unattainable cliché, but that’s really what body contouring fans aim to achieve with treatments that promise slimming in all the right places. We wanted to see what all of the hype was about, so we scoured the city for the best professionals in their craft.

Detox Wrapping

We started our beautification journey with a good old-fashioned body wrap at SenSpa (1161 Gorgas Avenue, 415-441-1777, While not as high tech as the other treatments here, it deserves attention because the slimming benefits of a warm wrap can help flush out toxins and eliminate unwanted water weight. You can ask the staff to tighten the wrap around the waist or thighs so that the sweating and detox are more concentrated in those areas. After our delicious Green Tea Mandarin Detox wrap at SenSpa, we felt lighter on our feet and ready to explore our remaining destinations.


We then checked out CoolSculpting because so many friends swear that it eliminates unwanted bulges from virtually every major body area The noninvasive fat reduction procedure is available through the lauded Dr. Kathleen Welsh of Bay Area Body (2299 Post Street, 415-292-7950,, who has the number one CoolSculpting office in the area and the latest applicator, CoolAdvantage.

Its improved design is said to produce colder fat-freezing temperatures, less discomfort, and faster sessions. The number of treatments needed to completely fix an area will vary depending on your goals, but each session will diminish about 20 percent of fat cells in the treated area. Our clothes fit better after one treatment, and we’ve been told that the cells will continue to die off over the next 12 weeks. Immediately following the procedure, we felt some minor discomfort around the treatment area, but it was resolved with ibuprofen.


After that cool solution, we opted to heat up with VelaShape, a cellulite solution that helps you keep your curves while smoothing away the lumps. At LaserAway (1878 Union Street, 415-563-7300, the staff promises to prepare you for the sheerest white pants and tiniest bikini bottoms. The machine works by warming the target treatment area while a combination of radio frequency, infrared light, suction, and massage simultaneously stimulate fat for the body’s lymphatic system to naturally eliminate it. The more water you drink before and after, the better. Weekly follow-up sessions are suggested for optimal results.


Last, we tried Kybella — a must for those with lifelong profile envy. Since childhood, we both carried a moderate amount of fat under the chin. Even at our healthiest weights, it’s always been a source of contention in photographs. So the introduction of an injectable nonsurgical contouring treatment was music to our ears. A friend recommended Dr. Usha Rajagopal at the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center (490 Post Street, 415-392-3333, Kybella also requires several visits, but takes just 15 to 20 minutes. The only downside is that the swelling in the area increases for a few days after treatment, so make sure to clear your weekend and have your scarves ready. But keep your chin up; the reveal is worth it.

It’s comforting to know that if your figure imperfections have always bothered you that with the help of these noninvasive treatments you can cheat Mother Nature — just in time for bathing suit season in San Francisco’s September Indian Summer.


Send to a Friend Print
Moanalani Jeffrey is the founder of her eponymous photography agency, writes a fashion and lifestyle blog, CliqueMJ, and can be reached through Valerie Demicheva is a branding strategist and culture journalist. Her work can be seen in the San Francisco Chronicle, WWD, and SF Weekly. Follow her beauty adventures on Instagram @vanitymonger.