An Overview of Common Fat Reduction & Body Contouring Techniques

body contouring

Self-esteem can take a huge hit if you feel shame from the appearance of your body. Whether you are experiencing the effects of genetics, aging, gravity, or pregnancy, the appearance of your body can be dragging down your confidence. From diets, to hitting the gym, to body contouring procedures, many of us seek solutions to slim down and tone up. 

Fat removal procedures and treatments are yet another way to accomplish this. There are two predominant categories of fat removal procedures and treatments: surgical, which is almost synonymous with “invasive,” and non-surgical, which are similar or synonymous to “non-invasive.” If you are considering fat removal as an approach to toning up, it’s important to know the differences and pros and cons of each technique.

About Surgical Fat Removal

When someone mentions fat removal, it’s likely that “liposuction” is the first word that comes to mind. Liposuction is a minimally invasive surgery that contours or sculpts an area of the body to produce a more youthful or smooth appearance. Liposuction therapy procedures are generally performed using oral or IV sedation anesthesia; however, touch-ups in small areas can be done with a topical numbing solution.

Liposuction is frequently performed in conjunction with other body sculpting procedures, such as abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), chin lift, face lift, and other facial cosmetic procedures. It’s possible to use laser technology in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat and skin at the same time. Depending on the extent and size of the area, a full recovery from liposuction may take. Inherent in surgical fat removal procedures are the typical risks of any surgery, including undergoing anesthesia, infection and bruising.

Beyond Lipo: New Options for Non-Invasive Fat Removal

Non-Invasive Fat Removal

Thanks to modern-day technology and engineering, people have figured out all kinds of ways to address fat that do not require anesthesia, have minimal recovery and downtime, and are without the risks presented by surgical procedures. Also referred to as “body sculpting,” these non-invasive or non-surgical techniques utilize cutting edge tools to target fat in specific areas. SculpSure is one such technique, which involves rupturing the fat cells using a warm laser that heats the fat cells and causes them to rupture, without disrupting the appearance of the skin. Another effective technique, known as CoolSculpting, uses the opposite approach and actually destroys the fat cells with freezing temperatures. While using very different technologies, these body sculpting approaches offer some advantages over surgical techniques such as liposuction or tummy tucks.

Pros and Cons of Fat Removal Types, Surgical and Non-Surgical

Fat removal is much like the stock market; the reward tends to be higher when you choose the surgical route for fat removal, but there are also numerous risks. Surgical fat removal presents more of an immediate, dramatic change, but definitely requires time to recover from the substantial pain, bruising and swelling following the procedure. Additionally, not everyone can afford to have a surgery and then take a week or more of work to deal with the recovery period. The physical discomfort and recovery of surgical fat removal, and the higher risks associated with it (and any surgical procedure), are the typical drawbacks for people who don't want to have surgery. 

Non-surgical, non-invasive fat removal—or body sculpting—presents a more modest change in a single treatment while forgoing many of the drawbacks of a surgical procedure. Non-surgical treatments tend to be less effective than surgical procedures and present less dramatic results; however, this doesn't mean that you can't get several treatments on the same area with the same non-surgical device.

How Do They Measure Up? Non-Surgical Results vs. Surgical Costs

Will you get the same results from a non-surgical treatment as you would with a fat removal surgery? Not from a single non-surgical treatment, but perhaps with multiple treatments—and without the risks and inconveniences of an invasive procedure. 

This does mean that the total financial cost of multiple non-surgical treatments could end up greater than a single surgical procedure. And while surgical fat removal may have a lower price tag, the physical down-time managing pain, swelling and bruising, plus the necessary time off work can all be considered “soft costs” associated with surgical fat removal, which aren’t factored into the price tag.

Finding the Best Fit for Your Lifestyle, Goals and Budget

minimal disruption

Surgical fat removal such as liposuction are most capable of the dramatic physical transformation that many people crave; however, the lifestyle disruption, physical recovery time and risks of surgery can be a deterrent for many. 

What many people like about non-surgical options is that there’s a relatively minimal disruption to their daily life. Even while they're getting the treatment done, they can work, watch a movie or read a book. And then afterwards, they’re back to work, the gym, out to eat, and on with their regular activities instead of managing swelling, pain and bruising. 

The key questions for those considering fat removal procedures are: 

  • How dramatic of a change are you seeking, and 
  • How much time do you have to commit to getting results? 
  • Is it better for you to undergo one major procedure, consolidating your expense, downtime, and physical risk? 
  • Or would breaking the procedure up into smaller, less risky treatments with more modest outcomes better suit your lifestyle and budget?

In Conclusion

Today, non-surgical options are more plentiful than ever, and many are finding they can meet their goals for fat removal with multiple treatments and minimal disruption to their day-to-day life. New treatments, such as Sculpsure, use cutting-edge tools to target fat cells, are quick and relatively painless, and involve almost no down time for recovery. Unless you are already undergoing another surgical procedure, such as a breast lift, augmentation, or tummy tuck, or are just looking for a dramatic physical change over a short time frame, then it may be worth examining the non-invasive fat removal breakthroughs that are now available. Careful time planning is essential, however, particularly if you are getting ready for a big event such as a reunion, wedding, or beach vacation where you’ll want to look and feel your very best.


How do I decide which option is best for me?

The best way to determine which treatment option is right for you is to consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, such as Dr. Bryan McIntosh, who will provide you with a personalized treatment plan, and whose staff will assist you in every step of pre-treatment, the procedure, and recovery.