How to Get Rid of Bra Bulge
The fatty deposits that bulge out around your bra straps and make strapless dresses a hard sell aren't in your imagination—for most of us, they're a very real part of being a woman, and they're inspiring a variety of new treatment options for those looking to enjoy a smooth silhouette without wearing full body Spanx. We caught up with the bra fat experts to learn what can be done to tone up this tricky area.
1) Liposuction may still be the only real guarantee. "It's often a hereditary distribution of fat, and it doesn't matter how skinny someone is— anyone can have it," explains Dr. Richard Swift, a board certified plastic surgeon in New York City. "Liposuction has been the gold standard of treatment for this area, with the tumescent variety being the best option since the area really requires a lot of finesse." Tumescent liposuction is when a doctor adds fluid to a patient's fatty areas first to sort of 'puff up' the trouble spots, and then uses the most precise technique possible to suction out the fat. The fat cells are then disposed and can never return to the area they were suctioned from. According to surgery.org, about 400,000 liposuction procedures were performed in the U.S. last year alone, and several thousand of those were to eliminate dreaded bra fat bulges.
2) But there are injectable options, too. For the anti-surgery types out there, Dr. Swift says he's had success with Kybella, a relatively new injectable designed to break up and destroy fat cells. "Kybella is deoxycollic acid and when it's injected into fatty tissue, a chemical reaction occurs and it dissolves the fat. The ideal candidates for this procedure are those who can pinch and feel some fat in the area to be treated. Patients with excessive skin laxity are not ideal candidates for Kybella because the skin will not contract, but the main advantage of Kybella is that it is minimally-invasive and consists of a series of injections." While it's not quite as precise or thorough as tumescent liposuction, Dr. Swift says he's seen success with breaking up fatty deposits. It's currently only FDA-approved for the chin area, but that will likely change as demand increases. Each treatment costs $1,200 to $1,500, and patients should expect treat an area up to 6 times for full results.
3) Change your focus at the gym. "In order to avoid unsightly bra fat spillage, you will want to concentrate on toning the largest muscle of the back—the Latissiumus Dorsi, also known as your 'lats,'" shares fitness expert and trainer Nadia Murdock. "Other muscle groups that you should work are the Serratus Anterior (wings) found on the side of the body. It is important to remember that there is no miracle move to banish back fat overnight. However, with consistent toning exercises coupled with a proper diet and cardio, you will definitely see a change." Murdock suggests pull-downs on the cable machine, cable rows and bent-over rows. Basically, if you hate your bra fat, you should be rowing yourself to freedom.
4) A new non-invasive treatment called SculpSure may be able to kill those fat cells.While SculpSure is non-surgical and boasts no downtime, it still is only available in dermatology and plastic surgery offices right now and may take up to 12 weeks to show visible results. According to Dr. Arash Akhavan, a cosmetic dermatologist at The Dermatology & Laser Group in New York, "the fat cells are destroyed by the laser and the fat leaks out of the cells and goes into our lymphatics. The fat particles are then processed in our liver and excreted from our bodies as waste." Small, heated pads are placed on fatty deposits and go to work heating fat cells beyond the point of repair for 25 minutes per treatment. "One of the reasons SculpSure is such a huge hit with our patients is that there is truly no downtime following a procedure. After a treatment, most patients don't experience any after effects, and a minority have at most minor soreness for a day or two. We don't restrict our patients' activities in any way. Patients can start to see a loss of fat and positive body contouring effects starting six weeks after treatment, with a completion of the process by 12 weeks post-therapy." SculpSure is said to destroy about 24% of the fat cells it treats, giving patients a somewhat noticeably smoother silhouette after just one or two treatments.
5) A lifestyle change is key. There are a variety of massage techniques and other lasers widely marketed at spas, weight loss centers and even some doctors' offices that promise to shrink fat cells versus destroying them, but by and large, you're being sold snake oil with these 'wonder machines.' Since we all have a set number of fat cells in our body, permanent and long-term bulge fighting depends on either completely changing our lifestyles (you guessed it— clean eating and exercise!), or eliminating the fat cells altogether. While fat cells can drain to some degree, they can and will fill right back up the next time you decide to slack on your healthy diet. Cheeseburgers, as it seems, will forever be the enemy.