• #13-1. Body Contouring



    Body contouring or body sculpting is a medical procedure that reduces the fat volume in localized areas of the body and is yet to be popularized in Japan. Slimming is often confused with reduction in measurements rather than changed outline. It may be similar in other countries, but in Japan, such confusion arises from misleading advertising by aesthetic salons. Advertisements of weight loss treatments that emphasize reduction in the waist size or weight with before and after photos are common. They aggressively solicit customers with these claims that sound too good to be true.  


    In Japan, aesthetic salons are freer from regulation than medical practices to use medical devices for aesthetic procedures as well as perform aggressive advertising. It is not surprising that they take up a much larger portion of the market. Slimming treatments are a main source of profit for these beauty salons and people generally think of beauty salons when they think about slimming procedures. Procedures that are mainly carried out by doctors are limited to weight loss and treatments of severe obesity in outpatient settings. These beauty salons have a larger presence than medical professionals in this market.


    Many people think that slimming procedures offered by doctors are limited to liposuction. One would have to go through a surgical procedure to obtain a drastic result but few Japanese patients are daring enough to try an invasive treatment for aesthetic improvement. Liposuction is gaining traction in Japan but its popularity is a far cry from that of other countries. Most Japanese patients are very conservative and are averse to surgery.


    Many Japanese people who are slim still go on a diet. Some try weight reduction because they want a flat stomach. Recently, more middle-aged or older women are becoming interested in their figure. “Anti-aging” has become a major trend and more people are seeking face lift, wrinkle removal, and body firming, etc. After the middle age, subcutaneous fat increases, drastically changing the outlines of the abdomen and thighs. Many people are interested in restoring their youthful, slim body line. Those who have disposable income are seeking medical procedures to maintain their youthful appearance.


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    There is demand for localized slimming procedures using a device but correct understanding of the treatment is still lacking. It will still take some time for the concept of medical body contouring procedures to be understood by the public as there are only a few patients who are interested in this particular treatment.


    On the other hand, many slimming devices are being introduced in Japan. This is due to beauty salons rather than medical institutions. Beauty salons present devices with similar parameters and functions as ones used in medical institutions as “non-medical” devices. It is difficult to clearly distinguish which are strictly medical and non-medical but it is a serious problem that non-licensed persons can carry out procedures that are very similar to medical treatment without any regulation.


    -To be continued

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