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How To Lose Unwanted Fat for a Healthier Life

How To Lose Unwanted Fat for a Healthier Life

Side view full length of beautiful woman in black swimsuitGetting rid of unwanted body fat is a goal of many people. Not only does it help achieve a more sculpted and toned look, but also helps achieve a healthier life by obtaining a more ideal weight. Many of these people are spending long hours in the gym, keeping an active lifestyle that surgery and the resulting recovery would significantly interfere with their daily lives.

Now, if you are like the many who want to get rid of excess or stubborn body fat but want to avoid surgery and a lengthy recovery, Zerona™ can help achieve that sculpted look you want with no downtime, recovery, or interruption to your everyday life.

Zerona™ is an FDA-approved treatment that uses laser energy not just to reduce the appearance of stubborn body fat but destroy the membranes that contain the fat cells and keep them away. This is a non-invasive way to slim and sculpt your body and requires no downtime or recovery after each treatment session.

During the treatment sessions that address your entire midsection, you will lie comfortably on your back and abdomen for 20 minutes each. Your doctor or aesthetician will then glide the handheld laser device across your skin.

The Zerona™ system uses cold laser technology to create a hole in the membranes that hold the fat cells together. The fat then leaks out through this hole, which is naturally removed and cleaned up by your body’s natural metabolic processes. Although the fat cells are not destroyed, as with other more invasive procedures, it is rare for the fat to return.

Most patients respond the best with around 6 treatment sessions spaced across a 2-week plan. Not only are these short enough to fit in with your regular schedule, but they are also painless and will not interrupt your everyday activities.

If you want to have a slimmer and more sculpted look around your abdomen and want to remove stubborn body fat without the risks and recovery of surgery, call the Center for Plastic Surgery in Highlands, NC, at 828-526-3783 or visit to see how Zerona™ can help you meet your aesthetic goals.

Hop into Springtime with More Confidence Thanks to Zerona

Fit and sporty girl in underwearKeeping your body in shape can be difficult even if you have good eating habits, live a good lifestyle, and describe yourself as a relatively active person. Maintaining a stable weight is a challenge for the vast majority of people because both life and our metabolism are constantly changing. Additionally, genetics can modify how much fat is deposited in different areas. For these reasons, many people struggle with stubborn fatty deposits in areas they wish were smoother and flatter. To improve this, one may consider liposuction. As a board-certified plastic surgeon and one of the first American surgeons performing it, Dr. Buchanan is certainly a fan of this procedure. Liposuction is a minimally-invasive surgery that requires only a couple of tiny incisions and has a rapid recovery. What it provides in return is improved body contours that can last many years if not indefinitely. But as beneficial as liposuction can be, there are people who prefer a non-surgical, non-invasive approach to fat reduction. Understanding this choice and wanting a simpler method for larger areas, Dr. Buchanan added the Zerona body contouring device to our Highlands, NC office. This system has been thoroughly tested and has performed immensely well in clinical trials. Since beginning to use the Zerona device in our practice, we have had a front-row seat to see consistently good results in multiple patients. Here, we discuss why you may want to consider Zerona for a Springtime body contouring pick-me-up.

What is Zerona Body Contouring?

Unlike liposuction, which is performed using a local anesthetic and small cannulas to manually extract fat cells, Zerona stimulates natural fat metabolism using controlled externally applied laser energy. Not just any laser energy, Zerona has been designed with comfort and efficacy in mind to destroy fat using cold laser technology. Because of this technology, patients do not require downtime for recovery, nor do they have to consider the risks associated with heat from some laser devices or the discomfort from the competitor that freezes the fat. Comfort is a given!

In our years of using Zerona, we have continually been impressed with its capabilities. The Zerona has five Laser emitting heads that are positioned over the body while you rest comfortably for the 20-minute procedure. During the treatment, each of the laser heads, which never touch the body, emit laser energy over a large area, from the neck to the mid-thigh area. Once the treatment program has begun, small openings begin to occur in the membranes of the superficial fat cells. These openings release the fatty contents that have been held in the enlarged cells where it enters the space between cells and gets picked up by the body’s natural elimination pathways.

What Does it Take to Get Better Contours with Zerona?

The energy technology of Zerona that gently but efficiently shrinks fat cells takes consistency to achieve its intended goal. Zerona treatments are scheduled to occur 3 days a week for two weeks. However, the week prior to starting treatment, the patient may make a few modifications as needed to maximize the effects of their process. These include eating a healthy diet of fresh, low-carb foods, walking or engaging in other light physical activity every day, and making sure to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Hydration is a crucial aspect of nonsurgical fat reduction because it supports the natural elimination of the fat (triglycerides). The habits that begin one week prior to treatment should continue throughout the two weeks of active fat reduction and for another several weeks at least, if not permanently, after the completion of the treatment sessions. According to studies, more than 90% of patients who follow these basic instructions achieve significant contour improvements from Zerona.

Is Zerona a Liposuction Alternative?

The Zerona treatment process can, as we’ve discussed, reduce excess or unwanted fat. It is not really comparable to liposuction since liposuction is most useful for small localized areas and Zerona is best for larger areas. We generally use Zerona as a stimulus to starting a weight loss program or where the desired treatment areas are larger than what we usually do with liposuction. If you would like to learn more about non-surgical, non-invasive body contouring, contact us at (828) 526-3783 for your appointment.

Liposuction Recovery: About Exercise

Liposuction can be an immensely satisfying procedure. It achieves noticeable results right away, even amidst common side effects like bruising and swelling. The improvements that come from this minimally-invasive procedure can last many years, if not indefinitely, when you continue with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Most people who seek liposuction recognize that this procedure is not performed to reduce weight but to improve the body’s contours by eliminating localized areas fat. With this awareness, patients often come to their procedure already having good habits in place. This is beneficial, but it may also create a bit of anxiety during recovery. Here, we discuss what you can expect in terms of resuming your exercise program should you choose to have liposuction.

What to Do After Liposuction and When

Exercise is an integral part of staying healthy overall. It is also necessary to maintain weight and also sustain the beautiful contours achieved through liposuction. This procedure somewhat busts the myth that you can’t spot reduce fat. With diet and exercise alone, that’s true. But liposuction is built just for spot reduction. After this procedure, the best thing you can do is eat well and exercise several times a week to maintain weight. How you do that is up to your preferences, fortunately. If you love to dance, do that. If yoga is your thing, do that. Also, though, it is beneficial to engage in resistance training that targets all of the muscles in the body. 

Toned muscles burn more fat than lax muscles. Toned muscles also help give the body that extra edge in terms of contouring. While focusing on muscle tone in the area where liposuction has been performed is not a guarantee that the body will never change, it is advantageous for keeping excess fat accumulation to a minimum in the area that had previously been problematic. 

There are only 3 reasons for not exercising immediately after liposuction. One is that it can increase bruising if done within 2-3 days since increased venous or arterial blood pressure can pop clots on injured vessels during that time. Another is that you may be sore for a few days. The other is relative to the procedure. Since liposuction causes a significant injury wherever done, your body will be using extra energy to heal the area. The amount of extra energy used depends on the amount of liposuction done.  Usually, patients can start to exercise again 2 to 3 days after liposuction ads long as they are not too sore and have enough energy to do so. The more liposuction done the slower you should start and progressing as your energy level allows.

Experience the benefits of liposuction. Contact us at (828) 526-3783 to schedule a consultation at our Highlands, NC office.

Will Liposuction Give me a Flat Stomach?

Liposuction is performed to eliminate stubborn fat from one or more areas of the body including the stomach. The stomach is one of the most common areas in which excess fat accumulates, so it is one of the most popular areas for liposuction. A little “extra padding” in other areas, like the buttocks or hips, can give the body nice curves. Belly fat, not so much. In this area, fat is nearly always undesirable. While liposuction can be a solution, it is appropriate only for specific problems. Here, we answer what many patients want to know about liposuction for a flat tummy.

Types of Fat

Fat accumulates in two areas in the abdomen: subcutaneous fat between the skin and muscle, and internal fat including visceral fat around the internal organs, and liver fat. We all have at least a little of each. How much one has is determined by several factors, including age, genetics, and diet. Subcutaneous fat is the squishy fat that you can pinch between your fingers. This is the type of fat removed during liposuction surgery. The other fat is not pinchable. It sits behind the abdominal wall, inside the abdominal cavity. Internal fat is not removed with liposuction. The only way to get rid of it is through diet and exercise.

It is important to know which type of fat you have so you can approach approving your abdomen the best way possible. While liposuction can help you look slimmer and shapelier from thinning the superficial fat layer, it cannot touch the visceral fat that may be causing  your appearance. Visceral fat is also considered unhealthy because it can press on internal organs. You can generally tell the difference by laying on your back and determining where your muscular abdominal wall is. If it is flat, then the fat is external. If it it not, then you have internal fat. If your problem is visceral fat, you should make necessary lifestyle changes that will support your health as well as your results from abdominal liposuction.

Can You Achieve a Flat Stomach with Liposuction?

Some patients may be able to achieve a flat stomach with liposuction alone. Studies suggest that the best results are achieved with a combination of strategies. Diet can enhance the effects of this procedure by minimizing or preventing the accumulation of unhealthy visceral fat. Because liposuction does not affect the abdominal muscle, patients can benefit from incorporating targeted abdominal exercises into their weekly exercise routine. Liposuction completes the process by removing the residual subcutaneous fat.

There are many reasons to consider liposuction. To explore your reasons and understand better where your abdominal fat is located, schedule a consultation with Dr. Buchanan at our Highlands, NC office. Call (828) 526-3783 today.

Gynecomastia: We Need to Talk About It

Your sense of self-esteem does not begin and end with your appearance. Still, one inevitably affects the other. As a plastic surgeon who has spent many years helping patients address cosmetic concerns, Dr. Buchanan understands the relationship between appearance and self-confidence. He has seen the emotional toll that concerns like gynecomastia have on a person. This condition, which involves male breast enlargement, leads some men to alter their appearance using compression garments, to wear very loose clothing, or to retreat from social situations. Gynecomastia can affect every area of life by reducing self-confidence. It doesn’t have to. Here, we discuss how to correct this concern.

Understanding Gynecomastia

It is important to understand what gynecomastia is and what it isn’t. Many people think that a man gets enlarged breast tissue because he is overweight. Obesity can be one cause of male breast enlargement. However, in many cases, this is what we call pseudo gynecomastia. It’s just excess weight. When a man has pseudo gynecomastia and he loses weight, his chest returns to normal contours. True gynecomastia is more about body chemicals than about weight. It may be triggered by a certain medication (some anti-depressants are associated with this condition). It may relate to a man’s genetics or may occur as a man’s hormones change and his estrogen level increases beyond its normal range.

Men in the latter group hoping to resolve gynecomastia with weight loss and muscle training may be disappointed with their results. Men who take over-the-counter supplements in hopes of minimizing breast size may not only be disappointed but may also experience unnecessary side effects or worsen the problem. For true resolution, it helps to see a plastic surgeon.

Male breast enlargement is treatable. A plastic surgeon devises a treatment plan after performing a thorough examination of the breast tissue. Treatment may involve liposuction to remove excess fatty tissue and sculpt the chest. It may require the removal of the breast gland or even skin tightening, depending on the severity of the laxity. Each of these techniques can be performed using a local anesthetic, minimizing the risks of treatment.

Men often live with gynecomastia when they do not have to. For more information on male breast reduction, call our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

Zerona or Liposuction? Get to Know the Pros and Cons of Each!

Fat reduction is a body-contouring treatment that is sought by many adults. Historically, fat reduction was achieved with excision surgery and, for 30 years, liposuction. However, innovative technologies have made it possible for us to reduce  fat without surgery. This technique also has certain benefits. If you’re noticing one or more areas on your body where fat seems to be holding on tight, you may be interested in comparing liposuction to the nonsurgical body contouring treatment we use in our Highland, NC office, Zerona.


Zerona is an FDA-cleared body contouring device that sculpts large general areas by reducing the fat within the cells. It works by emitting cold laser energy that penetrates into the cells, opens pores in the cell walls, and emulsifies the fat within the cells. This allows the liquid fat to move into the interstitial space where it can be picked up and eliminated through the lymphatic system. In clinical studies, this cold laser technology reduced inches from patients’ hips, thighs, and waists.


Liposuction is a minimally invasive surgical technique that uses a thin canule moved under the skin to literally suction the fat cells and fat from an area. It does require numbing the area or general anesthesia. Recovery is rapid, with most people able to return to most activities within a day or two.

Pros of Zerona include:

  • The noninvasive procedure does not require anesthesia
  • Treatment is painless
  • No downtime is needed
  • Fat cells shrink naturally, resulting in smooth, uniform results
  • Natural fat loss occurs over a few weeks

Cons of Zerona include:

  • Fat cells can enlarge after treatment if healthy habits are not implemented and maintained
  • Results vary from person to person; one may lose a few inches only while others lose more

Pros of liposuction include:

  • Suitable for large and small areas of fat, including under the chin
  • Fat removal is permanent
  • Liposuction is known for fast, successful results, especially for stubborn localized fat

Cons of liposuction include:

  • Small incisions are necessary
  • Some type of anesthesia is necessary
  • Risks such as infection, asymmetry, lumps, and bleeding exist, though they are minimal when done properly
  • There is some post op discomfort
  • Residual fat cells can enlarge if a healthy lifestyle is not maintained but the area will never be like it was

Your best body is within reach, even if diet and exercise have not produced your ideal results. To learn more about our body contouring treatments, call (828) 526-3783.

Zerona Can Take Care of That Extra Fat

Extra InchesHave the last few months of stay-safe-at-home led to unwanted weight gain? If you’re noticing a little extra padding around the midsection, hips, or thighs, you’re not alone. There is no way that 2020 will be known as a walk in the park kind of year. This past Spring, COVID-19 pulled the proverbial rug from beneath our feet. Folks are working from home, some are working much less than they used to, and many are questioning when life will go back to normal. It’s been a stressful time, to say the least. As such, this may have led to some comfort-eating. Experts encourage people not to worry about a little extra fat caused by the stress of the times. If you have lost back to normal, or, even if you gained nothing, but still notice unwanted areas of fat, there are alternatives. One is Zerona nonsurgical body contouring, which we are discussing here.

Zerona treatments take about 40 minutes on three days for two weeks. There is no downtime after treatments, and nothing special to do to promote fat loss other than assuring good dietary habits. The device works by emitting low-level laser energy into the fat cells. This energy emulsifies the fat and creates tiny holes in the membranes of the cells, resulting in the leakage of fat so it can be eliminated. Zerona does not destroy fat cells; it empties them. However, none of our patients who have undergone this fat-reduction process have relapsed. Patients who have Zerona treatments or even liposuction to remove unwanted fat can benefit from implementing healthy eating habits. We encourage patients to build fresh-food meals that are equal parts minimally processed protein, carbohydrate, and healthy fat.

Is Zerona right for You?

As we figure out how to live life as normal as possible, we all deserve to feel our best. Zerona nonsurgical body contouring can be a great way to jump-start a weight loss program or to get rid of those stubborn few areas. It differs from liposuction, which is best for very localized areas, in that the most common treatment areas include larger areas like the abdomen, flanks, hips, and thighs.

The team in our Highlands, NC office is here to help you look and feel like your best self. To schedule a body contouring treatment, call (828) 526-3783.

Exploring Nonsurgical Fat Reduction

Anyone who has ever tried to lose body fat knows how difficult it can be to do without a lot of help. Eating the proper foods and exercising regularly are good and necessary for optimal health. They aren’t always the ticket to the slim body contours a person wants, though. At some point, many people hit a plateau that they can’t seem to overcome. Furthermore, fat loss does not happen uniformly, frequently from inherited tendencies so some areas of the body may reduce better than others. This is why there has been such a strong interest in surgical liposuction and nonsurgical fat reduction in recent years.

Examples of Nonsurgical Fat Reduction Body Contouring

Historically, body contouring has been achieved with liposuction and other shaping procedures like abdominoplasty. Now, we have several ways to reduce areas of excess fat without surgery. Common examples of nonsurgical fat reduction include:

  • Injectable lipolysis. This is better known as Kybella, the injectable treatment that breaks down fat cells under the chin with deoxycholic acid. Though we have used Kybella, we find it more uncomfortable, more unpredictable, and slower to achieve results than liposuction and have abandoned it.
  • Many people know cryolipolysis as CoolSculpting. This method of reducing fat works by freezing fat cells, causing crystals to destroy them. The body flushes these cells over several weeks. This, however, is quite uncomfortable and has a tendency for the removed fat to rebound
  • Laser lipolysis destroys fat cells by heating them, leading to destruction. This, however, is more of a surgical procedure than regular liposuction.
  • Radiofrequency lipolysis also heats fat cells through the skin. We have found it minimally reliable.
  • Unlike other forms of fat reduction, Zerona disrupts fat cells using low-levels of cold-laser technology. This energy causes the fat cells to release the stored fat, is totally painless and somewhat more reliable than the other non-surgical modalities. This is what we use for our patients.

As you can see, each of these treatments works through unique technologies and techniques. Individual results can vary within any one of these modalities. Most forms of nonsurgical fat reduction offer some degree of gradual improvement over a few months. While none are intended for weight loss, each can result in a slimmer physique and better-fitting clothes. Also, none require downtime.

The Real Question to Ask

Many people procrastinate in getting treatment that can achieve their desired result because, with so many options, it’s difficult to know which one is right. This isn’t the real question. All you need to do is decide that you have done all you can with dietary and lifestyle modifications and that you still have some areas you would like to change. You then discuss with Dr. Buchanan how to achieve your desired outcome. Zerona nonsurgical treatment is ideal for larger to medium sized areas of excess fat. For small areas, minimally-invasive liposuction is frequently the best path to a better body.

We are here to help you find your way to your best self. To learn more about body contouring in our Highlands, NC office, call (828) 526-3783.

Reasons Fat Transfer May be Ideal for You

Fat Injection Highlands, NCWe recently discussed how facial fat transfer works and what to expect after treatment. With more people considering a move away from off the shelf fillers and toward a more permanent solution to facial volume loss, we understand many questions need to be answered. Here, we discuss some of the top reasons why people choose facial fat transfer over fillers, and why you may want to do the same.

Two Benefits in One Treatment

When we use fillers to restore facial volume, the product we inject is provided by a manufacturer. When we perform fat transfer, the substance that supplies volume is your own body fat. To obtain fat cells for transfer, it is necessary to perform minor liposuction. Patients often choose small areas that are troublesome, such as the hips, flanks, or abdomen, to harvest fat. Liposuction performed under local anesthetic sculpts one area of the body while fat transfer rejuvenates another. All in all, the combination of treatments can refresh both the face and body.

Treatment is Customized

Fat transfer is developed around the needs of each patient. Some patients prefer that more fatty tissue is removed for better body contours. Some need or have very little fat available, so liposuction takes only what is absolutely necessary for contouring the face. As long as sufficient fatty tissue is present, patients may choose to harvest from a variety of areas, but, most commonly, the midsection. It may also be possible to remove fat from under the chin to sculpt the face even more.

As with liposuction, fat injections are also administered based on the areas of concern. Some patients wish to have only one area treated like their lips or cheeks, where others prefer full-face rejuvenation that smoothes and rounds everywhere there is volume loss with properly-layered fat cells.

Results are Natural and Long-Lasting

Though there are several benefits to facial fat transfer, the permanent results that can be achieved with treatment are among the best. It takes approximately 4 months to fully see how much of the transferred fat has survived. After this point, though, new cells are expected to remain indefinitely. As fat cells do, those that are transferred to the face may grow and shrink with weight changes. The overall results will also naturally change as age changes the structure of the skin and underlying bone and fat is further lost naturally. A benefit, however, of fat grafting is transfer of stem cells that can further rejuvenate the area and skin.

Fat transfer is facial rejuvenation with an added bonus of slight body contouring. To learn more about his treatment, call our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

Are These Myths Stalling Your Weight Loss Goals?

Body Contouring & LiposuctionNearly every person who has ever wished to lose weight can attest to the fact that it’s not always easy. It isn’t that any person is physically unable to drop excess pounds. What may be more to blame for the struggles that many people have is a good dose of misconception. We question if we should eat this or that. We wonder if we should drop carbs or turn to a plant-based diet. It’s safe to say that a brief session online is enough to cause information overload. Here, we want to focus on the ideas that can stand in the way of true and lasting weight loss and what to do instead.

Advice to Toss Aside

  • Add more low-fat or reduced-fat products to your diet. We’ll keep this one simple. For a food to be labeled “low fat” means it has a label, which means it is probably highly processed. Processed foods have more ingredients as well as more preservatives, all of which could affect fat loss. As an alternative, steer toward fresh foods.
  • Skip meals to lose weight. This can be tricky. Studies do indicate that intermittent fasting can offer health benefits. However, intermittent fasting is different than skipping a meal in an effort to reduce calories. In most situations, when a person skips a meal, they end up eating more later, and usually less healthy foods.
  • Drink diet soda to lose weight. No. Zero-calorie soda has artificial sweeteners that have been shown to increase hunger hormones, increasing the chances of overeating.
  • Trouble spots can be targeted with diet and exercise. We’re all for eating healthy and staying active, but not to whittle the waistline or reduce thigh circumference. Healthy habits will work for general weight loss, not for sculpting.

Adding to a Healthy Lifestyle

It may not be possible to target trouble spots with diet and exercise alone, but it is possible to target them. Some people choose to do this with liposuction, a minimally-invasive procedure that is often performed using a local anesthetic and mild sedative. Some choose to stay in the non-invasive realm, which they can do with Zerona low-level laser treatment. Each method of body-sculpting offers specific benefits.

Discover your best path toward the body you want. Contact our Highlands, NC office at (828) 526-3783.

Thank you for your business over the years! Dr. Buchanan is closing his practice and the Center For Plastic Surgery's last day open will be January 31, 2023.