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Body Contouring Pros & Cons

Body contouring, also known as body sculpting, is the general name for a growing collection of minimally invasive procedures that can reduce body fat in visible areas of the body, like the abdomen and thighs. It’s a safer and less costly alternative to more invasive surgical procedures like liposuction, which requires general anesthesia and overnight hospitalization.

With so many medical and aesthetic providers pursuing body contouring training in recent years, it’s easier than ever to find a solution that fits your needs. But before you do, familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of body contouring so that you know what to expect — and what not to expect — from your treatment.

What Is Body Contouring? Common Body Contouring Procedures

Minimally invasive body contouring procedures target specific areas of the body: the thighs, buttocks, midsection, and love handles, among others. 

No matter how routine it seems, body contouring procedures should always be completed by licensed, board-certified medical professionals who’ve completed proper training in the specific procedures being offered.

The most common body contouring procedures include:

  • Liposculpture: Known as “awake lipo,” this procedure uses a tiny “microcannula” to siphon fat deposits out of the body. It doesn’t require a large surgical incision or stitches afterward.
  • Kybella® injections: These fat-busting injections dissolve fat cells and shrink stubborn pockets of fat, particularly in the upper abdomen and under the chin. 
  • Electrical muscle stimulation: Known as EMS, this nonsurgical body sculpting procedure mimics the effects of exercise and can reduce fat while enhancing muscle definition.
  • Cryolipolysis (Coolsculpting®): This procedure freezes fat deposits without harming adjacent tissue. The treated areas then slowly lose those deposits over time.
  • Laser sculpting: Cosmetic laser treatments can burn off higher amounts of fat in highly visible areas, though there’s some risk of burns or scars as a result.

Pros of Body Contouring Treatment

The advantages of body shaping treatment include:

  • No Invasive Surgical Procedures Required. Body sculpting treatments don’t require invasive surgery: no general anesthesia, no large incisions, no reconstruction or stitching afterward.
  • Less Costly Than Surgery. Because they’re not as invasive or involved, body sculpting costs significantly less than traditional surgery. 
  • Shorter Recovery Time Than Surgery. With these minimally invasive procedures, removing excess fat doesn’t require weeks of recovery time afterward. Depending on the procedure, you can resume normal activity within a week or less.

Cons of Body Contouring Treatment

The downsides and risks of body contouring treatment include:

  • Not a Replacement for Proper Diet and Exercise. Body sculpting procedures temporarily remove fat from the body, but they’re no replacement for proper diet and exercise. Without a healthy foundation, the fat is likely to return.
  • Results Aren’t As Dramatic As Surgery. Traditional surgery offers a much more dramatic “before” and “after” picture. Body contouring results are more subtle.
  • Results May Not Last Very Long. Even with changes in diet and exercise, body sculpting results may not be permanent. Many patients require follow-up procedures to maintain them.

Can Have Cosmetic Complications, Such As Scarring and Excess Skin. Common side effects of body contouring include scarring, body asymmetry (one side of the body has more fat removed than the other), blood clots, and excess skin in the treated area.