By Dr. TRACY MOUNTFORD, MBBS MBCAM
If you want to keep your thighs looking trim and sculpted, then saddlebags can often get in the way. Lots of women and men can end up storing excess fat in their upper thigh area. Extra fat deposits can gather across your outer thighs, making fitting into your favourite pair of jeans a challenge. Thankfully, we offer a range of non-surgical treatments to reduce saddlebag fat across the thighs.
Our non-invasive treatments require zero surgery or downtime. You don’t even have to put any extra effort into your gym routine to gain amazing results. In this article, we explain everything you need to know about getting rid of saddlebags using non-surgical treatments. We explore the different types of treatment while explaining what saddlebags are and how they occur in the first place.
What are saddlebags?
The term ‘saddlebags’ refers to the wobbly subcutaneous fat deposits that tend to develop across a person’s outer thighs. Where the hamstring and gluteal muscles meet. Common among women in particular, they can be extremely difficult to tone up and get rid of and can contribute to a ‘pear shaped’ look which stops women from gaining a contoured ‘hourglass’ shape. Their catchy name is derived from the bulky saddlebags used in horse riding. This useful comparison emphasises how they can make a patient’s buttocks and thighs look out of shape and unbalanced when compared to the rest of the body. Saddlebag fat is also highly diet resistant. The adipocyte fat cells have a low metabolic activity, making them more difficult and time-consuming to shift.
What causes saddlebags?
Saddlebags can form across a person’s body for a variety of different reasons, from genetics and hormones to lifestyle factors. We all store fat differently across our bodies as well. So some people may be more prone to gaining weight across their abdomen rather than their thighs. However, saddlebag fat is more of a common occurrence in women.
A woman’s body is also more prone to the accumulation of fat across the thighs, hips and butt for reproductive reasons. Fat is often stored around the thigh area during pregnancy for example so it can be used as reserve energy for the production of breast milk.
This fat is also very resistant to change from an evolutionary perspective. The body will naturally hold onto it as a source of sustenance through times of hunger, to facilitate the reproductive process. This is why many women complain that fat around the hips and thighs is the hardest to lose post-pregnancy. You are also more likely to suffer from saddlebags if many women in your family are prone to having ‘pear shaped’ physiques.
Hormonal imbalances can also contribute towards the accumulation of saddlebags fat. The female sex hormone oestrogen can encourage the accumulation of fat around the thighs and abdomen. So even if you do not have excess fat deposits across other areas of your body, you may still develop saddlebags if your oestrogen levels are higher than normal or out of balance. If you are an older woman for example and are taking hormone replacement therapy to treat the symptoms of menopause, your oestrogen levels could become too high, leading to saddlebag weight gain.
Having a stationary lifestyle or sitting in an office all day can also have an impact on your saddlebags. The area where your glutes and upper hamstring muscles meet becomes soft when the muscles in your lower back and buttocks are underused or inactive. Extra fat can collect in this area and bulge outwards at the side of the thighs, leading to saddlebags. As muscles waste away due to inactivity, excess fat is free to form in the surrounding tissues. This makes the saddlebags look bigger and more bulbous than they would do if your muscles were toned. Staying active is important when helping to reduce the appearance of saddlebags fat.
Getting rid of saddlebags
Eliminating saddlebag fat can make your butt look perkier and more well-rounded while helping to make it look less saggy. In addition to helpful non-surgical treatments like fat freezing, patients can reduce saddlebag fat quickly and sustainably by applying a variety of healthy lifestyle changes like exercising and healthy eating. Excess calories combined with reduced physical activity are core factors in producing saddlebag fat, so making simple changes to both of these fields can produce amazing results.
1. Non-Surgical saddlebag treatments
If, despite all your best diet and exercise efforts, you are still unhappy with the size and appearance of your saddlebags, then non-surgical solutions are a great way to tackle saddlebag fat head-on. You may also be a person who has achieved some saddlebag slimming using diet and exercise techniques. But you may need a bit of extra help to shift the stubborn fat stores. This is where leading body contouring treatments like CoolSculpting and EMSculpt can assist.
CoolSculpting for saddlebags
CoolSculpting is one of the world’s leading non-surgical procedures to destroy subcutaneous fat cells without surgery. Unlike surgical procedures like liposuction, a typical treatment takes as little as 30 minutes to complete. It also requires no downtime, meaning that patients can tackle their saddlebags in their lunch break or just before a yoga session if needed. It uses a unique fat freezing technology called cryolipolysis which works to break down saddlebag fat by crystalising the fat cells using super cool temperatures.
Once the cells have been crystalised by the cooling energy, the body will naturally dispose of these after 2-4 weeks. Best visible results will then show through at 3-6 months after.
The great thing about CoolSculpting is that fat cells are permanently destroyed when treated. This means they won’t come back as long as you follow a healthy lifestyle after having the treatment. The success rate of CoolSculpting for saddlebag reduction is also impressive, with studies showing that it can reduce fat stores by up to 27% after just one treatment.
EMSculpt for saddlebags
EMSculpt is another world-class body contouring treatment that offers great results when it comes to reducing fat stores and building up muscle mass around a patient’s thighs. It uses advanced electromagnetic energy to contract muscles around 20,000 times in just one 30-minute session. This causes muscle mass to increase in the outer thighs while also helping to break down fat stores. As muscle tissues are forced to adapt to the intense contractions, the saddlebags remodel and fat stores are reduced. EMSculpt has also now offered an upgraded treatment called EMSculpt Neo which generates the best-ever results when it comes to saddlebag fat reduction.
It combines the fat-burning energy of radiofrequency technology with EMSculpt’s traditional muscle contraction techniques to generate stand-out muscle building and fat burning results around the saddlebags. It can burn through 30% of saddlebag fat stores while building 25% more muscle mass at the very same time. Also, as increased muscle mass helps burn through extra calories while speeding up a person’s metabolic rate, it helps to regulate the shape and structure of their saddlebags in the long term.
Combining the treatments
If you have saddlebags that are significantly stubborn to reduce, or if the shape of your saddlebags is significantly affecting the shape of your lower body, then we can combine the two treatments together to maximise results. CoolSculpting works best on patients with a BMI of less than 25, which correlates to a healthy weight change. But if you have a higher body weight, we can target excess fat tissues first using CoolSculpting to destroy the fat tissues. We can then use EMSculpt Neo to further disrupt fat cells while stimulating the muscles to build up.
EMSculpt Neo can help to improve the body shape if you are also overweight, with a BMI of up to 35. So, by using this dual approach, we can help to eliminate saddlebag fat effectively for people who may be suffering from them most.
2. Dieting for Saddlebag Reduction
We all know that we are what we eat. In the case of saddlebags, it can be particularly true. If you are a person that eats excess calories or you rely on heavily processed foods that contain lots of sugar and additives, then this can increase your chances of gaining bigger saddlebags. Instead, opt for a cleaner eating regime that prioritises foods that will keep your calories down while making you feel full and giving your body the nutrients it needs.
Reducing your calorie intake can be a long-term game-changer when it comes to reducing weight across all areas of your body and not just your thighs. Embrace these top tips to help you along the way, or contact a qualified dietician for further information:
- Avoid alcohol, sugary drinks and highly processed foods
- Choose healthier carbs like fruit and vegetables rather than highly processed varieties (e.g., white bread)
- Be mindful of calorie density: eat big portions of lower calorie foods to fill you up
- Embrace protein sources like meat and dairy: these will keep you fuller for longer
3. Saddlebag Exercises and Workouts
Adjusting your exercise routine can also be a revolutionary way to reduce the size of your saddlebags. Combine calorie-burning cardiovascular activities like running or walking to burn through the calories, while also taking on bodyweight exercises and resistance training to build up your gluteal and hamstring muscle mass. When your glutes and hamstrings are strengthened and active, the surrounding tissues are more metabolically active, which has the effect of visibly tightening and sculpting the skin. Increased muscle mass around the thigh area also accelerates your body’s ability to burn through calories, helping you to achieve a sustainable calorie deficit that will keep the saddlebags at bay. Add the following exercises to your routine for the best results:
- fire hydrants
- hip extensions
- hip raises
- high-intensity interval training (HIIT)
Our Leading Saddlebag Fat Treatments
The Cosmetic Skin Clinic is a centre of excellence for body contouring treatments like saddlebag fat removal. We are the UK’s leading aesthetic practitioner for CoolSculpting treatments, having been named as the number 1 CoolSculpting clinic in the UK for six consecutive years. We were also the first UK clinic to introduce EMSculpt Neo, and Dr Tracy Mountford, the clinic’s founder is an internationally recognised EMSculpt ambassador. So, when you take a treatment with us, you can expect exceptional results.
To find out more about our saddlebag fat removal treatments, complete our online enquiry form. You can also contact our clinics in London and Buckinghamshire directly on the following phone numbers: London (+44 203 319 3637) and Buckinghamshire (+44 1753 646 660).