American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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A comprehensive guide to body sculpting techniques: CoolSculpting, liposuction and more

comprehensive guide to body sculpting techniques

A new year brings new opportunities to make the commitment to better ourselves. Whether you are focusing on achieving a more toned physique, promising to learn a new language or working on practicing mindfulness, the new year is all about new resolutions, new goals and new accomplishments.

For so many of us who are chasing that dream physique, it can be a daunting and near-impossible challenge to make any headway toward our goals. It's easy to feel stuck and plateau in your weight loss journey, especially when you're following a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

One option to kickstart your journey that you may not have considered is body sculpting. This extensive field of procedures offers an array of options to help you achieve the physique that you've been dreaming of with minimal downtime. From liposuction to CoolSculpting to injectables, there is a technique or procedure perfect for any lifestyle or need.

If you're interested in learning more about the world of body sculpting, common techniques and practices in the field, and what to expect from these procedures, we're happy to help. We reached out to Suzanne Trott, MD, for her expert insight on this topic and advice for patients interested in these procedures.

A brief overview of body sculpting

Body sculpting is a pursuit as old as time. From ancient Olympic athletes to European royalty, the perfect physique has always been chased by many and achieved by few. Achieving the physique that you've been dreaming of is something that is finally within reach with modern innovations and technologies. This is especially true for those who have reached their breaking point with diet and exercise and cannot seem to break through the barrier to achieve their goals.

"If you're someone who eats well and exercises but still has little areas of fat that you can't get rid of, liposuction and body contouring are a great fix," said Trott.

Liposuction is often at the top of the list of the most well-known plastic surgery procedures, and it is one of the best tried-and-true body sculpting methods. It is a surgical procedure that involves removing fat from underneath the skin with a suction device called a cannula. Trott is a proponent of a specific technique called power-assisted liposuction that uses a specialized cannula for more targeted results.

"With power-assisted liposuction, you're sculpting the body and not having to worry about getting the fat out at the same time," said Trott. "Without it, you're so focused on getting the fat out that you can get too close to the skin, which will cause indents."

Another common method of body sculpting that has proven to be popular within the last several years is a procedure known as CoolSculpting. This minimally invasive procedure involves targeting specific areas of fat and freezing the cells, which will, in turn, reduce the appearance of fat in that area.

"CoolSculpting is good for small, targeted areas or for if you're not interested in surgery," said Trott

Modern body sculpting techniques

One of the most exciting aspects of body sculpting is the constant advancements that come within the space. Technology has come leaps and bounds with the introduction of new methods and procedures within the past decade.

A new procedure in this space is the Renuvion device. This FDA-cleared minimally invasive technology offers amazing skin-tightening results that use heated helium and radiofrequency to actually shrink the tissue.

"Renuvion is great for after tummy tucks or to treat targeted areas like arms," said Trott. "It's a great bridge procedure for someone who doesn't want to have surgery – you can just do it in the office under local anesthetic."

Another advancement within the world of body sculpting is the introduction of injectables such as Ozempic. A new and exciting development that is gaining in popularity across the country, injectable weight loss medications have proven to be a safe and effective way to help those who have hit a plateau finally lose the weight.

"These medications can give you that edge to get started," said Trott. "You'll start feeling like it's working, which will help motivate you to exercise more. When you have a little incentive to feel better, you'll keep it going."

Maximizing your body sculpting results

As is true with any plastic surgery procedure, there are plenty of ways to make sure that you are making the most of the process and maximizing the results that you achieve. Here are a few key methods to focus on.

Take a close look at your surgeon's credentials

Always opt for a board-certified plastic surgeon with experience in the procedure that you are interested in pursuing. An unknown truth in the world of body sculpting is that you don't actually need to be a plastic surgeon to purchase a liposuction machine – anyone with a medical license has access.

If you opt for a less-expensive doctor who is not a board-certified plastic surgeon, you can run the risk of botched results that will be difficult for another surgeon to correct, such as pulling fat too close to the skin.

"Once somebody has gotten too close to the skin in a big area and they don't have a lot of fat to graft there, you can't help them," said Trott.

Don't be afraid to get multiple opinions

When searching for the right plastic surgeon to complete your body-sculpting procedure, it's important to consider your options. Make sure to meet with a few plastic surgeons to find one you are comfortable with and help you reach the results you're after.

"Meet with at least three surgeons – it's such a big field," said Trott. "Find one that works for you."

Make sure you plan ahead

It might be tempting to book your next tropical getaway right after you have a body sculpting procedure, but you definitely want to take your holiday until you fully recover.

"Plan it out at a time when you have a few months before you're going on a vacation where you're wearing a bathing suit," said Trott. "You're going to have bruising, and you're going to have swelling."

Once you're fully recovered and ready to show off your new physique, feel free to book that dream vacation and slip on that cute swimsuit you've been saving.

Compression is your best friend

One aspect of recovery that isn't as well-known as rest and relaxation is the necessary element of compression. After a body sculpting procedure, compression plays an important role in your recovery process, as it decreases both swelling and bruising while also reducing the risk of complications such as hematomas or seromas.

"Wear good, even compression and make sure that someone in the surgeon's office is checking," said Trott. "Go in at least once a week and have them check."

In fact, this process is so important to Trott that she created her own collection of compression shapewear to better suit her patients following any body sculpting procedure that she completes.

Focus on healthy habits

Undergoing a body sculpting procedure such as liposuction can give you an amazingly toned physique, but you can easily eat your way out of it.

"Understand that you're going to have to kick your living habits up a notch," said Trott.

Be mindful of what you eat, and stay active after your recovery to maximize and maintain your results. Even a short 15-minute walk daily is a great way to keep your body moving and looking its best.

Achieving your goals with body sculpting procedures

For those of us who dream of a more toned, beautiful physique for the new year but are having trouble achieving it through diet and exercise, body sculpting procedures are a great option to consider to get you over that hill. From liposuction and CoolSculpting to injectables, there are great options to suit any lifestyle and need that will help you achieve your dream physique.

To find a qualified plastic surgeon for any cosmetic or reconstructive procedure, consult a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. All ASPS members are board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, have completed an accredited plastic surgery training program, practice in accredited facilities and follow strict standards of safety and ethics. Find an ASPS member in your area.


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