When It Comes to Body Sculpting Treatments, It’s Not a One Size Fits All Solution
April 27th, 2023 @ 11:00 AM — by Dina Eliopoulos
Advances in medical technology have turbocharged the sheer number of body sculpting treatments available in Boston and the surrounding areas. From minimizing small areas of stubborn fat to removing more significant areas of fat and excess tissue, there are several options to contour the body that are widely available.
When it comes to body sculpting treatments, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. A thorough understanding of the long-term results and lifestyle impacts of each body sculpting procedure, along with your aesthetic goals, will help you and your board-certified Plastic Surgeon select the right procedure(s) for you. If you’re looking to contour your body due to pregnancy, stubborn fat, or weight fluctuations, here’s what to consider.
What is Body Sculpting?
Body sculpting refers to a type of aesthetic or surgical treatment meant to reshape an area of the body. Also referred to as body contouring, body sculpting helps to achieve body goals like eliminating stubborn body fat, getting rid of excess skin, altering the silhouette, or a combination of all three.
It’s important to note that body sculpting is not a weight loss procedure. Instead, body sculpting addresses specific areas where diet and exercise alone are ineffective in achieving the desired result and/or where significant weight fluctuations have resulted in excess skin. Body sculpting can also help one feel more proportioned and balanced. Common treatment areas include:
- Back and flanks
- Neck and chin
Options for Body Sculpting Treatments
When talking with patients about their body sculpting options, we educate them on the primary categories of treatment and which one or combination may be the best option for them. These options include non-surgical, minimally-invasive, and excision, as you will learn about below.
Non-Invasive: Cryolipolysis Fat Freezing
Cryolipolysis is the medical term for applying extreme cold to targeted areas to freeze and destroy fat cells. The most popular form of cryolipolysis is CoolSculpting®. During a CoolSculpting body contouring treatment, we apply a non-invasive cooling applicator to the area(s) of unwanted, pinchable fat.
Because fat cells crystallize at a slightly warmer temperature than skin, muscle, and nerves, CoolSculpting only freezes fat and leaves other tissue undisturbed. Once the fat cells are frozen, the lymphatic system helps to break down and remove them for a gradual reduction in the fat layer.
Minimally Invasive: Surgical Liposuction of Fat
Liposuction refers to the physical removal of localized fat deposits from minor incisions in the skin. During the procedure, I insert a long, hollow tube (called a cannula) through the incisions to suction and remove unwanted fat from the area.
Small-volume liposuction can be used to address smaller treatment areas, such as the neck, quickly or single body areas with moderate amounts of fat. Large-volume liposuction refers to larger amounts of fat being removed, commonly approaching 5 liters.
Often we safely target multiple areas at once to create a more complete and balanced body sculpting. For example, patients may undergo liposuction of their entire trunk, including their abdomen, flanks, back, and hips. This is often referred to as 360 Lipo and can commonly result in larger volumes of fat being removed. In addition, this circumferential or 360 Lipo of multiple areas helps patients gain a slimmer appearance with more proportion throughout the body.
Minimally Invasive: Radiofrequency-Assisted Liposuction (RFAL)
If you’re dealing with skin laxity or looseness as well as localized fat deposits, radiofrequency-assisted liposuction (RFAL) may be a consideration. At the Center for Plastic Surgery, we utilize the BodyTite body contouring procedure to remove unwanted fat and tighten the surrounding skin and subdermal tissue simultaneously.
Unlike traditional liposuction, which only addresses stubborn fat, BodyTite uses targeted bipolar radiofrequency (RF) heat energy to contract subdermal connective tissue and stimulate collagen production for tighter skin.
Invasive Surgery: Excision or Removal of Tissue
Compared to the above body sculpting treatments, skin excision may be necessary depending on your unique body goals. This type of body sculpting surgery involves the excision or removal of unwanted tissue that’s often composed of both localized fat and excess skin.
The most common body contouring surgeries include an arm lift (brachioplasty) to correct sagging upper arms, a breast lift (mastopexy) to correct sagging or flattened breasts, and a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) to correct an apron of excess skin hanging over the abdomen.
Is Body Sculpting Permanent?
Body sculpting procedures can result in amazing changes and improvements in your contour. However, it is important to remember that your lifestyle is the key factor when determining the long-term effectiveness of your results.
For example, once we remove fat cells with liposuction, you will not make new fat cells. The fat cells you have now were developed during puberty and will stick with you for the rest of your life. When you gain weight, those fat cells expand, and when you lose weight, those fat cells shrink. So even after liposuction, your remaining fat cells can expand with significant weight gain resulting in a loss of correction.
After your body contouring procedure, your future lifestyle choices will dictate how your fat cells fluctuate and how well you maintain the post-procedure results over time.
Which Treatment is Right for You?
When it comes to body sculpting treatments, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and everyone’s body is unique to them. The right treatment for your body goals might be a combination of procedures, whether it’s targeted CoolSculpting and liposuction or liposuction and excision. Every body is different, and that’s why going to a board-certified plastic surgeon can help plan your body transformation.