Ah, love handles, those pesky things we DO NOT LOVE! What are they, why do we have them, and how can we get them gone? For the most part, the term “love handles” is used to mean pockets of subcutaneous fat over our hips and lateral trunk area. Fat in this location is sometimes also present in association with excess fat over the abdomen and back. Like fat pockets everywhere on the body, the presence and size of our love handles will be influenced by our overall weight. So, it is true that if we drop weight, our love handles will indeed shrink. A healthy diet , rich in vegetables and healthy grains, as well as some healthy fats (yes, polyunsaturated fats are indeed healthy such as those found in avocados nuts and fish), and a diet low in sugars, simple starches, and unhealthy fats (like trans-fats found in fast food) will help you slim down, which in turn will shrink love handles.
However, if overall you are pretty close to your desired weight, but you can still pinch too much over the hips, then the only solution is a body contouring procedure. While some fitness gurus will tout specific exercises for the oblique muscles which underlie the fat over our lateral trunk, the truth is this will in no way affect the fat that is there. That’s not to say exercise isn’t desirable- exercise revs up your metabolism, which also helps keep weight under control, as well as having a myriad of other health benefits. But exercising a particular set of muscles has no effect specifically on the pocket of fat in that same anatomic area. So, contrary to popular belief, just as crunches may strengthen tummy muscles, but won’t shrink tummy fat, side sit-ups, and other oblique exercises DO NOT shrink love handles.
Our top treatment suggestions for banishing love handles are CoolSculpting® and liposuction.
Coolsculpting is a procedure that involves cooling the tissues to a very low temperature. This causes fat cells to break down over the following weeks, and the fat in them to be cleared by the body. This noninvasive procedure is popular for those who don’t want surgery. The procedure typically takes a couple of hours (an hour per side) and is not associated with any downtime. Optimal results usually require several treatments spread out over a few months. Learn more about Coolsculpting on our website here.
Liposuction typically requires only one treatment, though occasionally a touch-up procedure a couple of months later is needed. For love handles, it can typically be carried out with local anesthesia, and a single small incision per side. Downtime is also short, depending on the amount of fat removed. For small amounts of fat, people are often back at normal activities within a couple of days. Liposuction for love handles is often carried out along with liposuction of other areas, like back fat, or abdominal liposuction, so it does have the advantage that several areas can be addressed at the same time. Learn more about liposuction on our website here.
In the case of both Coolsculpting and liposuction, the fat in the love handle area is removed permanently. That is not to say that if you gain lots of weight, no fat will appear in those places again, but your overall contour will remain altered (i.e. fat will be gained everywhere if you put on pounds), but the size of love handles will remain proportionally smaller than if you had not had the procedure done.