Getting Body Contouring in Atlanta
Body contouring procedures are medical treatments designed to shape and contour specific areas of the body by eliminating fat cells. There are various technologies used to perform body contouring treatments.
These treatments can be broken-down into 3 categories: invasive, minimally invasive and non-invasive. The guide below explains the differences between these 3 categories.
No matter what technology is used, each are considered lipolysis procedures, ‘lipo’ meaning fat cell and ‘lysis’ meaning death to the cell. Common body areas that patients receive body contouring treatments to are: Abdomen, thighs (inner and outer), flanks, bra fat, arms, male chests and chin.
About Non-Invasive Body Contouring
Non-invasive body contouring procedures are fat reduction treatments that are non-surgical in nature. There are multiple non-invasive body contouring procedures available, including: cryolipolysis (fat freezing), cold laser lipolysis, radiofrequency lipolysis and warm laser lipolysis.
Each procedure uses a different method to eliminate the fat cells, but all are delivered topically on the surface of the skin. Because these are non-invasive procedures, there are no needles, cuts or sedation.
During the body contouring procedure, the chosen energy method penetrates the skin tissue layers to damage the fat cells underneath the skin. Once the fat cell is damaged, the body begins its natural process of cleansing it from the patient’s system. This process typically takes around 12 weeks to complete, leading to more gradual results for the patient.
Getting SculpSure at WIFH
The non-invasive body contouring procedure offered at WIFH is SculpSure. It is the first FDA-approved warm laser lipolysis procedure for topical fat reduction.
SculpSure uses heat and light energy (vs CoolSculpting which freezes the fat cells) to elevate the tissue temperature and disrupt the fat cells underneath the skin1. A benefit of SculpSure over cryolipolysis is that fat heats up faster than it freezes, making the procedure time just 25 minutes. Cryolipolysis procedures can take anywhere from 35 to 60 minutes per session.
Once the SculpSure treatment is complete, patients can immediately return to normal activity (ie. work, the gym, etc.) There’s no recovery time. Patients may experience some mild tenderness afterward, which has been reported as inconsequential to normal activity.
Non-Invasive Body Contouring Considerations
Non-invasive treatments are an excellent option for patients who do not want the down time associated with more invasive treatments. However, results from non-invasive treatments are less predictable than those of invasive surgical procedures.
The primary variable for results achieved with non-invasive fat removal is the individual patient’s body. The number of fat cells damaged during the procedure and how the individual patient’s body processes the removal of the damaged cells varies from person to person.
Both SculpSure and CoolSculpting patients can experience up to a 24% reduction in fat in the treated area with each treatment2. Non-invasive body contouring will require multiple treatments to see the most fat reduction.
1. Schilling, L., Saedi, N., & Weiss, R. (2017). 1060 nm Diode Hyperthermic Laser Lipolysis: The Latest in Non-Invasive Body Contouring. Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 2017, 16(1),48-52.
2. Decorato, J. W., Chen, B., & Sierra, R. (2017). Subcutaneous adipose tissue response to a non-invasive hyperthermic treatment using a 1060 nm laser. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, 49(5), 480-489.
About Minimally Invasive Body Contouring
Minimally invasive body contouring procedures are surgical procedures where fat cells are manually removed from the body with the assistance of a particular method (laser, ultrasound or water). Most minimally invasive procedures are performed under local anesthesia, and require less downtime than traditional surgical procedures. There are many liposuction technologies on the market for minimally invasive fat reduction including laser-assisted liposuction (example: Smartlipo), ultrasound (example: Vaser) and water-assisted liposuction (example: Aqualipo).
While the anesthesia used for these procedures is based on the doctor’s preference and experience, they can all be performed using local anesthesia. Local anesthesia simply means the area where the procedure is being performed has been anesthetized. The doctor’s choice for anesthesia can be: local only (usually a lidocaine solution), minimal sedation (use of an oral sedative), twilight sedation (injecting or IV administered) or general anesthesia (IV administered). The type of anesthesia used could increase the risk of complication.
Minimally invasive fat reduction procedures treat many areas of the body including: abdomen, flanks, bra fat, male chest, arms, thighs and chin.
Getting Smartlipo at WIFH
At WIFH, our Medical Director, Dr. Paul Cox uses the Smartlipo Triplex model to perform laser assisted liposuction. The Smartlipo Triplex device houses three different wavelengths of laser, allowing for fast and efficient melting of the fat, skin tightening and protection of the surrounding skin tissue.
Entry into the skin is made through very small incisions about an 1/8″. A thin cannula with a laser fiber threaded through it is inserted under the skin. The laser melts and liquefies the fat and then aspiration or suction is connected, and the melted fat is removed from the body.
The heat from the Smartlipo laser is also absorbed by the skin tissue, causing the skin to retract or tighten. While this procedure provides skin tightening, it is important to note that it cannot retighten already loose skin. The way a patient’s skin presents before undergoing Smartlipo should be the expected outcome for the skin to look post-procedure.
Minimally Invasive Body Contouring Considerations
Following a minimally invasive body contouring procedure, patients should expect soreness, tenderness, possible bruising, and swelling. The use of a compression garment is typically required for approximately 3 weeks post-operation, although this may vary. Minimally invasive procedures typically have little to no downtime. Patients will expect to feel tender and sore, but should maintain normal mobility the same day or the day following the procedure.
Because the fat cells are being manually removed, results patients can expect from minimally invasive liposuction procedures are more consistent and predictable than non-invasive procedures. During the initial consultation at WIFH, Dr. Cox provides his patients with a realistic expectation for the results they will achieve from the procedure for their individual case.
About Invasive Body Contouring
Traditional liposuction is the most invasive body contouring procedure to remove unwanted fat under the skin. Performed by a Plastic Surgeon, traditional liposuction procedures are typically done in hospitals or surgery centers due to the need for an anesthesiologist to administer general anesthesia.
Under general anesthesia, patients are in an unconscious state while the surgeon removes fat from the treatment areas. The use of general anesthesia significantly increases the risk of complication over a non-invasive or minimally-invasive body contouring procedure that utilizes local anesthetic.
Undergoing Traditional Liposuction (Not Offered at WIFH)
During a traditional liposuction procedure, the surgeon makes incisions in the skin to insert a cannula. There are multiple types of cannulas surgeons can choose from to perform the procedure — a manual cannula, which is used to scrape the fat, or a powered cannula, which shaves or bites the fat to remove it from the skin. While the fat loosened by the cannula, constant aspiration or suction is used to remove the fat from the body.
Invasive Body Contouring Considerations
This type of liposuction is effective and is routinely used to treat larger body areas with high volumes of fat. However, this procedure causes significant tissue trauma, resulting in extensive bruising.
For this reason, traditional liposuction has the longest recovery time with patients reporting pain, discomfort, and bruising. Typically a compression garment is required to be worn for six or more weeks following traditional liposuction.
A Side by Side Comparison of Body Contouring Procedures
|Anesthesia||General anesthesia (patient is asleep during the procedure)||Local anesthesia (patient is awake during the procedure)||None (patient is awake during the procedure)|
|Incisions||Large incisions||Small incisions||None|
|Results||Noticeable improvement at 3-9 months, final results at 1 year||Noticeable improvement at 1-3 months, final results at 6 months||Noticeable improvement at 6 weeks, full results at 12 weeks|
|Downtime||Days to weeks of downtime||1-2 days of downtime and often less||No downtime – Return to normal activity immediately|
|Areas of Body that Can be Treated||Most areas of the body||Most areas of the body||Currently FDA approved for abdomen and flanks.|
|Bruising||Extensive deep tissue bruising that lasts several weeks||Minimal bruising, if bruising occurs, it typically resolves in 2-3 weeks||No bruising|
|Candidacy||Best for those that have a high volume of fat to remove. Addresses deep tissue fat best.||Best for those who are within 20lbs of their ideal body weight||Best for those with a BMI of 30 or less|
|Compression Garment||Yes, typically worn for up to 6 months post procedure||Yes, typically worn 3-4 weeks post procedure||No compression garment|
|Procedure Time||Actual operating time is typically around 1-1.5 hours. Traditional liposuction is performed either in a hospital or surgical center.||Average procedure time is 1-1.5 hours, typically performed in an “in-office” operating room.||As little as 25 minutes.|
Before & After Photos
*Results may vary and are not guaranteed.
Body Contouring FAQs
Are body contouring procedures safe?
In general, body contouring procedures are safe. Most complications that arise from surgical procedures are due to the anesthesia. General anesthesia carries the most risk.
More invasive body contouring procedures such as traditional liposuction utilize general anesthesia, where the patient is put to sleep during the procedure.
Non-invasive body contouring procedures do not require anesthesia, as they are all performed topically. Minimally invasive procedures will require anesthesia of some kind. Local anesthesia is the safest way to perform these procedures.
Patients considering a body contouring procedure should always perform research before selecting the surgeon or facility to perform the treatment.
What body contouring procedures is right for me?
Choosing the right body contouring procedure may come down to desired expectations or results, whether patients can afford downtime and how quickly the patients wants to see results.
Surgical body contouring procedures (minimally invasive or invasive) will always provide a greater reduction in fat than non-invasive procedures. Patients shouldn’t expect a surgical result from a non-surgical procedure. Surgical procedures are a one-time procedure versus non-invasive procedures that require multiple treatments. Surgical results are much more predictable as the fat is manually being removed versus non-invasive therapies that rely on the patient's body to get rid of the fat.
Patients typically see results faster from a surgical procedure as compared to a non-invasive procedure. Results are expected from surgery after 4 weeks versus non-invasive at 6 weeks. Most non-invasive procedures have no downtime versus surgical procedures. Some minimally invasive procedure zero downtime, while invasive procedures could have several days or weeks of downtime depending on which procedure is performed.
How long will the results last?
Body contouring procedures are lipolysis procedures. Lipo meaning fat and Lysis meaning death to the cell. So they are permanently getting rid of fat cells.
It is not out of the realm of possibility that a patient could regain fat cells in the treated area, however, maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help maintain results.