Ultrasonic cavitation, also known as ultrasound cavitation (or ultrasound lipolysis), is an aesthetic procedure used to break apart stubborn fat pockets in various parts of the body. This non-invasive treatment option claims to be an effective, less invasive alternative to liposuction. But does it work?


What Is Ultrasonic Cavitation?

Ultrasonic cavitation is a non-invasive body contouring treatment option that utilizes ultrasound technology to break down fat cells below the skin reducing cellulite and localized fat. This treatment option involves a device that applies pressure on the fat cells with ultrasonic vibrations where the pressure is high enough to make the fat cells liquify. The liquified fat cells are then removed from the body by the lymphatic system and excreted as waste through urination. Ultrasonic cavitation requires no incisions, unlike ultrasonic liposuction that requires an incision of the skin, making ultrasonic cavitation a safer alternative to liposuction. While the recovery and risk may be less when compared to liposuction, the results may be less noticeable as well.


How Does It Work?

As mentioned above, ultrasonic cavitation works by using ultrasound technology to break apart fat cells. The ultrasonic waves go deep into the layers of the skin causing a disruptive vibration that breaks apart fat cells that are stored in the dermal layers. A few days after the treatment, the fat cells are then absorbed by the lymphatic system and excreted from the body as waste. While the results are not conclusive, recent research shows that this non-invasive body contouring treatment is promising.


In a small 2019 study that tested ultrasonic cavitation on a group of 50 women considered medically overweight, half of the women followed a low-calorie diet while the other had consumed a low-calorie diet in conjunction with ultrasound and radiofrequency contouring procedures—the after five weeks the women who had the cavitation had a reduction on body fat. Interestingly, they didn’t lose more weight than the other group of women, just body fat. In another study done in 2007 where 30 women were given ultrasonic cavitation, after three treatments the subjects showed a reduction of body fat mass and in size by one to three centimeters in the treatment areas by the end of the study. Again, this study showed there wasn’t a reduction in weight, just body mass.


What Happens During A Ultrasonic Cavitation Treatment And What Areas Of The Body Can Be Treated?

The treatment area will be sterilized before the treatment begins. With a handheld device, the practitioner will slowly go over the treatment area/s. Clients will experience a warming sensation and hear a buzzing sound that comes from the machine during treatments, which lasts anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour depending on which areas of the body are being addressed.


There are some studies that suggest ultrasonic cavitation is most effective at treating fat in “fibrotic” locations in the body, like the chest and back. With that said, this treatment option is also frequently performed on the face, stomach, hips, neck, thighs, and upper arms.

Are There Side Effects?

Ultrasonic cavitation is generally considered to be a safe treatment. However, with that said, common side effects include bruising, headaches, and redness. In some instances, the broken-down fat cells don’t evenly break down and can leave the skin looking bumpy, which can be resolved in a follow up treatment. It is important for your clients to drink a lot of water after the treatment to help assist the lymphatic system to break down and excrete the treated fat cells.

What Kind Of Results Can One Expect?

Like many non-invasive body contouring treatments, results don’t happen immediately. To achieve the desired results, one to three visits may be required. Results typically appear in 6-12 weeks after the treatment and are permanent as long as a healthy diet and exercise plan are followed.

Bottom Line

Contouring the body with non-invasive technologies has never been easier, nor have there been more options, including ultrasonic cavitation, which research suggests shows promising results for fat removal. This non-surgical option can be used for the chest, back, face, neck, arms, thighs, and stomach with one to three treatments needed to achieve the desired results. Full results take 6-12 weeks to fully appear since it takes time for the body to flush out the treated fat cells through the body’s lymphatic system. Results can be permanent if a healthy diet and exercise program are followed.