What is Body Sculpting: Nonsurgically Contour Your Body

What is Body sculpting?

There are many treatments that can improve the shape and appearance of the body. There are three main goals of body contouring (also known as Body Sculpting) treatments:

  • Melt Fat
  • Tone Muscle
  • Tighten Skin

Treatments that target fat use various forms of energy to actually kill fat cells under the skin. Fat cells in an adult cannot re-grow. Once they are gone, new fat cells cannot be made anew. However, if you gain weight, the fat cells that remain can become larger. So, if you kill a bunch of fat from your belly, and then gain 20 pounds, you’ll see that fat get larger on your hips and elsewhere– anywhere you still have fat. Thus, body contouring is not a weight loss program. But you can certainly reshape the body. If your weight stays stable, your results are permanent.

Treatments that target muscle strengthen and tone the muscles using muscle stimulation. The effects on muscle are remarkable, but not permanent. You have to keep using the muscle in order to maintain results.

Treatments aimed at skin tightening tend to heat the skin to stimulate collagen build-up. These treatments often result in a mild improvement that is long lasting, but also not permanent. 

How is Body Contouring different from Liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure in which fat is sucked out of the body with a vacuum. This requires anesthesia and incisions and is an invasive procedure that carries inherent risks as any surgery does. Body Contouring treatments that target fat damage the fat cells with energy so that they die in place. The fat inside the cells is released into the lymph system and eventually excreted over time. This process is slower, but carries fewer risks.

Body Contouring procedures also differ from liposuction in that they can target muscle and skin, which are not improved at all with liposuction.

What are the different types of body contouring?

  • Cryolipolysis (Coolsculpting) kills fat by freezing. This has been around the longest, but also has some unpleasant complications that are more common that previously understood, including not only uneven results but sometimes the fat grows instead of shrinks.
  • Radiofrequency devices use heat to melt the fat and tighten skin. These devices range in efficacy, but used properly, can produce a good result, with fewer risks.
  • High Frequency Muscle (HIFEM) stimulation also targets fat, in addition to building muscle. 
  • Lasers and Ultrasound have both been used to kill fat, but these devices are more painful and less effective and have fallen out of favor.
  • Injection lipolysis: there is an injectable that causes fat cells to die called deoxycholic acid. This has been sold for use in the under chin area under the name Kybella. It has been used experimentally elsewhere with very mixed results. 

What Body Parts can be targeted with Body Sculpting?

  • Abdomen
  • Love handles
  • Buttocks
  • Thighs
  • Calves
  • Arms

What are the benefits of Body Sculpting?

  • Decreased fat in the belly, love handles and thighs
  • Strengthen and tone muscles: abs, quads, hamstrings, calves, biceps, triceps
  • Decrease pants/dress size 
  • Fit into your clothing better
  • Feel stronger

Will Body Sculpting help me lose weight?

No, Body Contouring treatments does not cause weight loss. They will cause fat loss. But in general, people do not lose weight with these procedures.

How to prepare for Body Sculpting?

There is no special diet or preparation for a body sculpting procedure. However, there are some things you should know to get the most out of it:

  • Refrain from alcohol: Alcohol halts fat burning. It is best to abstain while you are undergoing treatment.
  • Avoid high-carb diets: building fat is mostly carb-dependent. You don’t need to go on a low-carb diet to benefit from body sculpting treatments, but it is best not to be on a high-carb diet. Intake of 100 to 150 grams of carbs a day is fat-neutral – you won’t be losing fat with your diet, but at least you won’t be building fat. Why pay for body contouring if you’re counteracting it with your diet?

What are the risks of Body Sculpting?

Risks of each device are different.

The risks of cryolipolysis are the most concerning: numbness/nerve damage in the treated area, uneven results, paradoxical hyperplasia of the fat (meaning it grows larger and rock hard, requiring surgery)

Risks of RF: primarily burns, rare

What is the recovery time for Body Contouring?

Most treatments have essentially no recovery time. The skin may be red temporarily. Most people resume their usual activity right after treatment. People undergoing HIFEM treatments report feeling stronger right away.

Am I a good candidate for Body Contouring?

For RF and HIFEM, there are very few contraindications for treatment: if you have a pacemaker or defibrillator, you will not be a candidate, or if you have metal in your body near the area to be treated.

For Cryolipolysis, the shape and arrangement of the fat may or may not be amenable to treatment. For this reason, careful patient selection is very important. 

For any treatment targeting fat, someone with impaired or diseased lymphatic systems will not be able to be treated.

If you are healthy and have no metal in your body, you are very likely a good candidate for Body Contouring.

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