Body contouring, or body sculpting, can eliminate fat, shape areas of the body and tighten skin. Lipolysis is a nonsurgical option that uses cold, heat, lasers and other methods. Surgical options include tucks, lifts and liposuction. Surgery has more risks and longer recovery, but it usually provides more noticeable results.
Body contouring, or body sculpting, is a medical or surgical procedure that aims to reshape an area of the body. It may involve procedures to:
Body contouring does not usually help you lose weight. Instead, it helps shape the body and address specific areas where weight loss isn’t effective or after significant weight loss results in extra skin.
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Nonsurgical body contouring is called lipolysis. There are several lipolysis methods:
Sometimes, the results can vary.
Options for surgical body contouring include:
People choose to have body sculpting to look and feel thinner or to attain a certain shape. It’s often used on specific areas of the body when diet and exercise aren’t making a difference.
Surgical options can also remove extra skin to make the skin look smoother and younger. Such procedures can help people who have excess skin after significant weight loss. It can also improve loose, saggy or wrinkled skin that occurs with natural aging.
Body contouring can target most areas of the body. Common sites include:
First, you’ll meet with a plastic surgeon. You’ll discuss:
The healthcare professional will also:
If you decide to move forward, you’ll have to sign a consent form. By signing it, you give permission to the healthcare provider to perform the procedure. You also agree that you understand the risks of the procedure and have realistic expectations.
Depending on what kind of body sculpting you choose, the healthcare team may ask you to:
Most cosmetic surgeries take place in a surgeon’s office, surgical center or hospital. The procedure can last 45 minutes to a several hours, depending on what you’re having done.
For surgical procedures, the team may:
Most lipolysis procedures take place in an office or clinic. One session takes about 30 to 60 minutes.
The team may:
Most people need several treatment sessions to see results.
Most people go home the same day, even after surgical procedures. If you have surgery, you should have someone drive you home and stay with you the first night. And you may have a thin tube near one or more incisions to drain fluid and prevent swelling.
Your surgical team will give you recovery instructions. They may include:
For nonsurgical body sculpting, you will leave the office or clinic immediately after the procedure. You usually won’t need a ride home, and you can go about your day normally.
Many people who have body contouring report:
Results from surgery are more noticeable and immediate. With nonsurgical options, it may take a few weeks or months to see a difference.
Any procedures — such as lifts and tucks — are surgeries and therefore come with certain risks, although relatively uncommon. Risks can include:
With nonsurgical options, risks are much more limited and include:
Recovery from surgical options can take weeks to months, depending on how much work is done and how large the incisions are.
Nonsurgical options have much shorter recovery times. Most people go back to work and other activities immediately after the treatment.
Nonsurgical procedures carry very little risk, so you likely won’t have to watch out for complications.
If you have a surgical procedure, you should report the following signs of infection or other complications:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Body contouring can help eliminate fat and shape areas of the body when diet and exercise aren’t working. Being at your ideal weight improves quality of the results with lower complications. Lipolysis is a nonsurgical procedure, and liposuction is a surgical way to remove fat. Other body sculpting procedures, such as skin excision, can tighten and smooth any loose or wrinkled skin. Talk to your healthcare provider about your options and their risks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/04/2021.
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