Putting in the leg work

We review a groundbreaking new fat loss treatment

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have an issue with at least one part of their body, be that a double chin, an unedifying muffin top, or the sort of love handles that seem to appear overnight in your late twenties and settle in for the long haul. For me, it’s my inner thighs. No matter how much weight I lose, or how much exercise I do, they never seem to get the memo. I suffer from the dreaded ‘chub-rub’ in the summer, wearing through jeans at a terrifying rate, and however much I tell myself that it’s not the end of the world, I’m constantly comparing myself to others. When I hear about a US treatment called AirSculpt that offers a form of liposuction carried out under local anaesthesia rather than general, and promising just a few days down-time, I finally feel a glimmer of hope. Maybe, just maybe, I can say sayonara to my saggy thighs…

Dr Aaron Rollins, the pioneering inventor of AirSculpt has treated over 40,000 people in the States with an astonishing level of success. In fact, a quick scroll through the before and after photos on the website leaves me open-mouthed in awe. And he has just opened his first UK clinic on Harley Street, meaning we lucky Londoners at last have the chance to try it for ourselves. I’m impressed by how luxurious the space feels – it is more like a hotel spa than a medical setting – and this definitely helps me to relax when I have my initial consultation with Dr Rollins. While he examines me – explaining that whatever he can pinch, he can remove – he talks me through the procedure. He describes traditional liposuction as being like the action of a “cheese grater scraping out fat,” and explains that he wanted to develop a system that would lessen the likelihood of procedural pain, inflammation and bruising, and that would reduce recovery times. Unlike traditional liposuction, which uses a cannula to break up the fat, AirSculpt utilises a less-invasive proprietary cannula with a slim probe to soften the excess fat before sucking it out. I’m sold, and book myself in for treatment on my inner thigh area and the back of my thighs (Dr Rollins calls this the “banana roll”, a phrase I’d never heard before, but then he hadn’t heard of “chub-rub”…).

As the day of my appointment dawns, I’m feeling more nervous than I had anticipated; the friendly, professional team at the clinic set my mind at rest, though (a number of them have experienced the treatment themselves and are able to personally reassure me). I change into a gown and have my photos and measurements taken. I’m being treated by Dr Tillo whose warm manner puts me further at ease (quite the feat, considering the fact he’s drawing on my inner thighs with a permanent marker pen at the time). I’m given a shot of diamorphine and then Dr Tillo numbs the areas using a needle-free jet injector, which pushes a topical anaesthetic fluid through the pores. Next, a small, two-millimetre-wide, incision is created on the skin with a biopsy punch tool, skipping the need for cuts made with scalpels, which helps massively with the recovery. A local anaesthetic solution is inserted through this entry point to numb the fat cells. This feels sharp and scratchy, but is certainly not unbearable. Then we get to business… At this point I’m feeling pretty relaxed, listening to the radio and the chatter of the nurses. Dr Tillo inserts a cannula with a thin probe which melts the fat cells and tightens the skin. The fat is gently sucked out using the AirSculpt device – removing it cell by cell, without harming the surrounding tissues. I can feel vibrations, and it reminds me of the sensation of using a Theragun, but there’s still no pain. Unlike other procedures such as Coolsculpting, AirSculpt fully removes the cells, forever. I’m asked if I’d like to see the fat moving through the tubes and am surprised to find that I do – it’s weirdly satisfying knowing that these cells will never return. In total over one litre of fat is removed from my legs – the sight of it in the cannister is pretty impressive, if disconcerting.

Soon, the procedure is over, and the nurses gently help me to sit up and get me into a pair of compression leggings. These will be my constant companions for the next fortnight, and are never the most comfortable things to wear, but here, lots of research has gone into sourcing the best on the market, so I think I’ll cope. One result of this procedure is some leakage, so I also need to wear pads on the entry wounds and replace them frequently over the next couple of days.

On being shown through to the recovery room for some sugary treats, the effects of the anaesthetic hit me, and I start to feel quite nauseous. I’m told that this is very common, and fortunately it passes after a few hours, so I am able to tentatively nibble on a burger later that night – I’ve been told that a greasy meal will help the body to expel the remains of the anaesthetic.

My legs are bruised and quite tender for a couple of weeks, There is minimal downtime, but it’s important to give your body the chance to recover, and it can take up to six months for the swelling to completely go. Even so, after just a few weeks, I can tell that my thighs look considerably better already, and I can’t wait to see the full results.

Prices start from £8,000 for under the chin and £18,000 for upper/ lower waist and fl anks. Elite Body Clinic, 51 Harley Street, W1G (020 3964 2600; airsculpt.com/ our-locations/london)