What is body sculpting?
Body sculpting, also called body contouring, is the overall term used to describe a wide range of aesthetic plastic surgery procedures designed to reshape and improve the appearance of your body. The number of techniques the surgeon will use and the extent of the body contouring will depend on your current physical situation and your goals.
Body contouring (body sculpting) can include both surgical and non-surgical procedures.
Who is a good candidate for body contouring?
To be a good candidate for body contouring you should:
- Be a healthy adult
- Have any major weight loss stabilized
- Have a commitment to a healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition, diet and exercise
- Have a positive outlook and realistic goals
- Be a non-smoker for any skin tightening procedures
- Have no medical conditions that would increase risk of surgery
- Have no medical situations that would impair healing
What are the common reasons people elect to have body contouring?
Giving birth and breastfeeding can take their toll on a woman’s shape. Body contouring can help bring back the body to its pre-childbearing form.
People who lose a significant amount of weight feel healthier, more energetic and lighter on their feet. However, their skin will likely remain stretched and they may want to tighten up and sculpt various areas of their body. Body contouring is the answer.
As age and gravity push and pull the body out of shape, it’s nice to know body contouring is there to bring it back to its natural shape.
Areas of the body commonly addressed with body sculpting
Any part of the body can be addressed with body contouring and aesthetic plastic surgery. Some of the common areas patients seek to improve are:
- Face and neck
- Upper arms
- Waistline and back
Here are some common body contouring procedures:
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
Having children, age, extensive weight gain or extreme weight loss can stretch the skin and abdominal muscles and, in some cases, add unwanted fat to the mid-section. An Abdominoplasty removes excess skin and stubborn pockets of fat from the tummy area, tightens the muscles, flattens the belly and defines the waist. This procedure is usually done on an outpatient basis. The patient will need to have someone drive them home and the plastic surgeon’s instructions must be strictly adhered to.
A patient will have to severely limit strenuous activity for at least 4-6 weeks and may need to take up to one month off work after the surgery to ensure proper recovery.
When the skin of the upper arm shows obvious signs of sagging, usually due to age or rapid weight loss, an arm lift becomes a valuable part of body contouring. An upper arm lift reshapes the upper arms, tightening loose skin and removing the fat that often creates a “bat wing” appearance under the arms. Liposuction is often used in combination with an arm lift to achieve the best results.
A body lift is a series of separate procedures concentrating on different areas of the body. Whether it is an arm lift, breast lift, abdominoplasty, thigh lift or other procedure, the plastic surgeon removes excess skin and fat, reshaping and tightening the areas of the body that are being addressed to give the patient’s body a firmer more youthful appearance. Body lift is usually used on patients who have lost a great deal of weight and are left with stubborn loose skin, fat pockets and poor body shape.
A buttock enhancement or buttock augmentation enhances the natural shape of the rear by raising buttocks that have flattened and sagged with age or simply have never been the shape and size the individual has wanted. Buttock contouring is usually performed using fat injection. Fat is liposuctioned from other areas of the body where it is unwanted and injected into the buttocks to make them fuller and more shapely. Solid silicone implants can also be used for buttock augmentation but are much less popular due to having less natural results, more complications after surgery and more likely to need surgery to correct them in the future.
Breast Lift Surgery
With the onslaught of age, extreme weight loss, or breastfeeding, breasts can begin to become flatter and to sag. Breast lift surgery, by itself or as part of full body sculpting can bring a woman’s breasts back to their youthful, firm appearance. Breast lift surgery tightens the breast skin to create a lifted and more attractive shape.
During calf augmentation, the plastic surgeon inserts implants over the calf muscles thereby giving the calf a stronger and fuller look. The procedure normally takes about 1-2 hours. Different degrees of augmentation is possible depending on the goals of the patient. Women often have smaller augmentations to create shapelier lower legs while men often aim for a more muscular look. Expect some bruising and swelling in the surgical area. This will resolve in a couple of weeks.
Weight loss and aging can leave the face and neck with a drooping or saggy appearance. Lines, creases and jowls can start to appear. This is why patients as part of body contouring frequently consider a facelift. Given that the lower face and neck often age or lose their form together, facelift and neck lift are usually combined into one procedure. Facelift is directed at rejuvenating the lower third of the face while neck lift restores the aging neck.
With a full facelift, skin can be tightened, excess fatty deposits removed and sags lifted and creases ironed out, returning to the face a brighter more youthful look. The angle of the neck and definition along the jawline are restored.
Liposuction (fat removal) is frequently used by itself or as part of another surgery, such as a tummy tuck, to help the surgeon remove extra fat from that location. Liposuction is a very versatile technique that can be applied to just about any part of the body. It has become an indispensable tool for the plastic surgeon performing any body contouring procedure.
When excess skin and fat begin to develop beneath the chin, in front of the throat area the face and neck can lose definition and begin to look older and tired. During a neck lift, sometimes referred to as neck-contouring, excess fat and skin are removed from beneath the chin and around the area of the neck. Muscles are tightened to support the shape and make it last for years.
During body contouring of any area of the body, excess skin removal and tightening are frequently done.
Skin tightening can also be done as a separate surgical or non-surgical procedure. Surgical skin tightening usually involves removing the excess skin surgically. This results in the tightest contour but does leave a scar. Scars will fade with time and good scar care. In some areas, lasers can be used to tighten the skin. This is done by placing the laser under the skin and heating it to stimulate the skin to shrink. The amount of tightening is much less than surgical skin tightening but the benefit is that the scar is minimal. Laser skin tightening can be used in those who need a smaller amount of tightening or who would be happy with a smaller amount of tightening and no scar.
Skin tightening with external devices is also offered by many but the results are usually highly disappointing or nonexistent.
A thigh lift is designed to help patients attain fit, shapely legs. It is most popular among patients who have had massive weight loss. Excess skin can be removed from the thighs, with the remaining skin tightened to a toned, youthful appearance. The surgery can address the outer thigh, the inner thigh or both.
Nonsurgical Body Contouring Procedures
Nonsurgical (non-invasive) body shaping techniques may be appropriate for patients requiring minimal contouring, although it’s important to have realistic (minimal) expectations for these procedures.
There are several non-invasive options for excess fat removal and skin tightening, including:
Low-level Laser Therapy (laser body sculpting): Low-level laser therapy emits cold laser energy into body tissues. This energy is taken in by fat cells, which are broken down and absorbed into the body.
Ultrasound: Ultrasound uses high-intensity, focused sound waves to disrupt fat cells, causing them to dissolve gradually over time. The same technique will stimulate the growth of collagen, causing the skin to gradually tighten.
Radiofrequency: Radiofrequency treatments delivers controlled energy to excess fat areas, creating heat deep within fat cells and subsequently destroying them. Radiofrequency therapy for excess fat removal has not yet been approved by the FDA but is regularly used for body contouring.
Non-invasive procedures to remove excess fat and tighten the skin involve minimal recovery time, with most patients resuming their normal activities the same day. Non-invasive body contouring therapies typically require multiple treatment sessions and can be painful. Results are often very subtle and patients should have expectations along these lines.
One of the beautiful things about body contouring is its essentially personal nature. No two body sculpting procedures are exactly alike. When you come in for a consultation we can discuss what areas of your body you would most like to improve and what we can do to make you look your very best.