How many treatment sessions should you include in your cavitation treatment plans?

esthetician discussing cavitation treatment plan with a woman at a desk with 6in1 slimming machine in background

Fact #1.  Patients need a series of cavitation treatment sessions to achieve desired results.  Do you know why?  Fact #2.  The number of cavitation treatments it’ll take to reach desired results varies from patient to patient.  Do you know what factors you should consider when determining the number of treatments to recommend in each of your cavitation treatment plans?  In this article, we answer these questions...and more.  We discuss (1) the reasons why non-invasive body contouring treatments like fat cavitation require a series of treatments to deliver desired results; (2) what factors contribute to the number of recommended treatments in your cavitation treatment plans; and BONUS! (3) we provide you with a GUIDE so you can custom design fat cavitation treatment plans for each of your patients.

A review of fat cavitation technology and treatments


First, a quick review of fat cavitation technology and treatments.


What is fat cavitation?

  • Fat cavitation is a non-invasive body contouring technology that uses low-frequency sound waves to destroy fat cells in the treated area.
  • Fat cavitation is also known as ultrasonic cavitation, ultrasound cavitation or simply cavitation.


How does fat cavitation lead to inch loss?

  • Fat cavitation technology reduces inches by destroying fat cells.
    • The ultrasound technology used by fat cavitation produces sound waves that cause air bubbles to form below the skin surface, in and around fat cells
    • When these air bubbles burst, fat cells are destroyed and release their lipid contents
    • Over a period of time, the body’s lymphatic system picks up the lipids (fats), excess fluids and other toxins released from the treatment and eliminates them from the body
    • Resulting in inch loss

What are the benefits of fat cavitation?

There are several reasons why fat cavitation is a treatment patients ask for by name.


→ Permanent fat loss

The technology permanently destroys fat cells


→ No pain or downtime and few to no side effects

Redness and bruising to the treatment area are possible


→ Popular and affordable

The technology is highly rated by experts and the treatments are more affordable than many non-invasive alternatives

Number of Treatments needed?

  • Short answer, a series of 6 - 12 treatments to start.
  • This article lays out our long answer.

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Why does fat cavitation require a series of treatments?

The answer to this question requires a review of the facts.


How big are human fat cells?

  • The size of human fat cells ranges from 0.1mm to 0.2mm in diameter, though the exact  measurement depends on how much fat is held within the cell (which varies from person to person).  Fat cells can be up to 0.8mm in diameter.
  • It’s hard to envision 0.1mm to 0.8mm.  So to put this in perspective and give it some meaning, consider the size of the tip of a ballpoint pen.  It’s 0.8mm.
  • So it’s no surprise to learn that humans have a whole lot of fat cells in their body.

How many fat cells does a person have in his/her body?

  • The average person has between 25 and 35 billion fat cells distributed throughout his/her body.  .
  • The number of fat cells in each person’s body is set by the time that person is an adolescent.
  • And the number of fat cells cannot be decreased by diet or exercise.  With weight loss or weight gain, the number of fat cells stays constant, but the size of the fat cells can change, either shrinking or expanding.

Good news.  We can decrease the number of fat cells in the treated area with fat cavitation treatment sessions.

How many fat cells (or what percentage of them) does one cavitation treatment session affect?

  • Most clinical studies have looked at fat loss results from studying four or more fat reduction treatments.  Not one published study evaluated results from a single treatment.
  • Since no studies have been published regarding fat cell numbers or the fat cell percentage reduced in one or more fat cavitation treatments, no one knows for sure.
  • Ultrasound, plicometry and biopsy findings in published research have shown reduction in the subcutaneous fat layer from a series of four or more fat cavitation treatments, but there are no research findings to tell us how many fat cells are affected by one cavitation treatment session.
  • So…we don’t know how many fat cells must be either destroyed or shrink to lose an inch in circumference.  But an educated guess is that the number is big.

Undertreatment leads to poor results and unhappy patients

Your cavitation treatment plans must include

  • An appropriate sized treatment area
  • An adequate number of cavitation treatment sessions to achieve desired results

How body contouring providers can undertreat with cavitation

Providers can fall short and underdeliver in three ways  

  1. By treating an area that is too large for therapeutic results
  2. By including fewer than needed treatment sessions in the plan
  3. Another mistake that can be made might come as a surprise…and that is treating too many areas at the same time.

For many reasons, we recommend focusing on treating one area at a time, delivering excellent results, then moving on to the second area, etc.  .

Cavitation Treatment Plan Guide

Use this Guide to custom design your cavitation treatment plans.


Factors to consider when determining the number of treatment sessions in your cavitation treatment plans


Health and Lifestyle Factors



Generally the older the patient, the more treatments that might be needed


Overall health

Patients with chronic illnesses may need more treatments


Daily activity

Patients with desk jobs and sedentary lifestyles may need more treatments


Diet and nutrition

Patients who may not comply with your post-treatment diet and nutrition instructions may need more treatments


Motivation and attitude

Patients who do not seem motivated may need more treatments


Sleep quality

Patients who report too little sleep or poor quality sleep may need more treatments



Patients who describe a high stress life may need more treatments

Lymphatic Function and Lymphatic Booster Treatments

It’s critical to note that all of these lifestyle factors can lead to poor lymphatic function.

All cavitation protocols should include Lymphatic Booster treatments to assist the patient’s lymphatic drainage.

Inefficient lymphatic function cautions

  • Do not perform more than one cavitation treatment per week if your patient has insufficient lymphatic drainage.
  • Observe these patients closely as more than one week's space between treatments may be needed to allow the body time to process the fat debris from the treatments.

II. Expectations


What is the patient’s desired result?


You must determine each patient’s expectations

  • The sad truth is all patients come to us with preset expectations
  • We have to uncover them and make sure they are realistic, in other words to make sure
  • We can meet their expectations
  • Determine how many treatments it’ll take to do so

III. Fat Factors


The characteristics and location of the fat must be considered when designing your cavitation treatment plans.

Location and Characteristics of Fat


We can treat subcutaneous fat, but not visceral fat, with fat cavitation.

  • Subcutaneous fat = fat cells can be located between the skin and the muscles
    • You can grab and pinch this fat
  • Visceral fat = fat cells can also be located deep inside the abdominal cavity
    • This fat makes the tummy feel hard like a watermelon; you cannot grab and pinch this fat

Type 1 Metabolic Fat


The fat cells are large and have very little fibrous component.

**This type of fat responds well to cavitation treatments.


Type 2 Structural Fat

Found in multiple locations  

This type of fat plays different functional roles based upon surrounding structures.

**It is wrapped in a fibrous mesh, making this type of fat more resistant to cavitation treatments than metabolic fat, but it can be treated.

Found in the

  • Inner knees
  • Inner thighs
  • Armpits
  • Breasts
  • Pectoral area
  • Hips

Type 3 Fibrous Fat

Found in multiple locations


These are small fat cells wrapped in a thick, fibrous shell.

**This type of fat is the most resistant to cavitation treatments, and likely to need repeated treatments.


This type of fat is located in areas of mechanical stress (areas of movement) such as

  • Outer thighs
  • Arms
  • Knees
  • Pectoral area
  • ‘Buffalo hump’
  • Other areas involved in motion

Thickness of the Fat Layer

How thick of a layer of fat can you treat?

That depends on whether your patient has unrealistic expectations or realistic expectations.


What are your patient’s expectations?  

  • Your patient is coming to see you with preset expectations and you must uncover them.
    • Would she be happy losing an inch from her waistline or does she expect more?
    • Is she thinking she could get a total transformation?
    • Is she hiding her true expectations?


Who can  you treat with cavitation?

  • You can treat almost any size of patient, even if your patient is a large person who wants to target an area with a thick layer of fat…as long as she has realistic expectations and will be happy with the results you can reasonably obtain.
  • And as long as she agrees to the number of treatments you recommend.

How to use your Cavitation Treatment Plans Guide to make your treatment session recommendations


Here are a couple of examples of the exercise.

Example #1


Janie S. is a 27 year old professional ballet dancer, is fit and a healthy weight.  She has not gained weight but has developed a ‘pudge’ in her tummy that she’d like to reduce with cavitation.  The size of the fat layer on her abdomen measures about two hands in size and upon pinching seems to be about an inch thick.  She is coming to see you for cavitation and says she wants it “all gone.”

Go through your checklist.


Health and Lifestyle Factors

✓ Low Risk

She is active, normal weight and leads a healthy life


Fat Factors

Abdominal Fat =  ✓ Treatable metabolic fat

Fat Layer =  ✓  An inch thick

Size of Area =   ✓  Two hands


Wants it ‘gone’  =  ✓ or ✗  Might be problematic; need to advise the patient that you can reduce but cannot promise that it will be  ‘all gone;’

* See if she wants to proceed.

Number of Treatments

This patient might reach her desired reduction at 6 treatments; start with 6 but educate her about the possibility of needing more.


PRO TIP:  When patients hear six treatments, even though you’ve told them they may need more, they often cling to the idea that six treatments will get them where they want to be.  These patients may be unhappy to hear they need more treatments after completing six treatments, they need more treatments.  So if you have any doubt about the possibility of needing more than six treatments, recommend nine or whatever you think may be needed.  You can always stop before nine treatments if your client is happy sooner.

Example #2


Eloise J. is a 59 yo legal secretary who is 5’2” and weighs 175 pounds.  She has raised two boys as a single mom.  One son has left home, but she still supports the twenty year old.  She says she wants to lose weight but she has always hated her ‘thunder thighs’ and now that she’s raised her kids, it’s time to do something about them.  The size of fat she’d like to reduce is about one hand on each side, but a thick layer of fat is present. She sits all day at work and is too tired to exercise when she gets home.  She eats out for breakfast and lunch and tries to eat healthy at dinner.  She says her twenty year old worries her because he quit school and doesn’t want to work.  She doesn’t sleep well with those worries.  She is coming to you for cavitation to reduce her outer thighs.


Health and Lifestyle Factors

✓ or ✗  High risk, but most of our patients fall into this category.  These patients need education in diet and exercise, as well as education about the lymphatic   booster treatments.  You need to determine how much her lifestyle will  slow down her progress and how much space she’ll need between treatments.  She is treatable with cavitation, but will be hard to treat.

Fat Factors

Fibrous Fat ✓ or ✗  Treatable, but resistant to  treatments.  Educate your patient that this fat is very resistant to treatment and it may  take many treatments and sometimes  improvement can be very minimal, especially in light of her lifestyle factors. We recommend that you ask her if she would like to reduce any other area.


Fat Layer

✓ or ✗ Since a thick layer is present, you need to educate your patient about  needing multiple treatments.


Size of Area

✓  Must add the one hand on each thigh to equal two hands. Within the size limit of treatability.



✓ or ✗  You will need to explore her desire  to ‘do something about them.’  Does that mean totally get rid of them?  What does she want?


Number of Treatments

12 or more.  If this patient wants to proceed, we’d recommend doing three or  four treatments and reassessing for reduction, smoothing, etc. Ask her at this time if she wants to continue.


The number of cavitation treatments to include in your cavitation treatment plans varies from patient to patient, but the factors that contribute to the number of recommended treatments are the same for every patient.


These include the patient’s age, overall health, daily activity, diet and nutrition, motivation and attitude, sleep quality, stress, lymphatic function, the characteristics and location of the fat, and the size and thickness of the fat layer.


By using our Guide to custom design your cavitation treatment plans, you can ensure you are addressing every factor so as to provide each of your patients with expert education and advice to deliver the very best results every time.