Nonsurgical body contouring is also known as nonsurgical fat reduction. There are a variety of nonsurgical fat reduction procedures. These procedures reduce or remove stubborn pockets of fat to contour and shape different areas of the body. Most nonsurgical fat reduction treatments are based on one of these four principles:

  • Cryolipolysis, or controlled cooling, uses freezing temperatures to target and destroy fat cells.
  • Laser lipolysis uses controlled heating and laser energy to target fat cells.
  • Radiofrequency lipolysis uses controlled heating and ultrasound technology to target fat cells.
  • Injection lipolysis uses injectable deoxycholic acid to target fat cells.

Nonsurgical body contouring procedures aren’t intended to be weight loss solutions. Ideal candidates are close to their desired weight and want to eliminate stubborn pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. With most body contouring procedures, your body mass index shouldn’t be over 30.

Convenience:

  • Body contouring procedures are nonsurgical and minimally invasive to noninvasive.
  • Typically, you can resume daily activities immediately after the treatment.

Risks and side effects:

  • According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 169,695 procedures were performed in 2016. Typically, only mild, short-term side effects were reported. These included redness, swelling, and pain.

Cost:

  • In 2016, nonsurgical fat reduction cost $1,681 and injection lipolysis cost $1,257.

Each body is different, and the best way to find out whether you’re a good candidate for nonsurgical body contouring is to talk to a qualified provider. This may be a plastic surgeon, dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, or other certified trained provider. Your provider will help you decide which treatment is best for your individual needs and expectations. Here are a few examples.

CoolSculpting is a treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It’s a noninvasive fat reduction technique that stems from the science of cryolipolysis. It uses cold temperatures to target and destroy fat cells in various areas of the body. Surrounding tissues are left unharmed. The freezing temperatures kill off fat cells, which are eventually flushed out of your body through the lymphatic system. Once these cells are gone, they shouldn’t reappear.

Target areas:

  • abdomen
  • thighs
  • flanks
  • arms
  • bra and back fat
  • underneath the buttocks (banana roll)
  • double chin

Treatment length:

  • One treatment area takes 30-60 minutes, with little to no downtime in most cases.
  • Multiple treatments are usually required to deliver satisfactory results.

SculpSure was first cleared by the FDA in 2015. It’s a noninvasive method of lipolysis that uses laser energy to heat and destroy fat cells. The treatment’s high temperatures can cause the fat cells to die. The body’s lymphatic system gets rid of the dead fat cells within the period of approximately 12 weeks after the procedure.

Target areas:

  • abdomen
  • flanks

Treatment length:

  • Each treatment takes approximately 25 minutes. Typically, there is little to no downtime.
  • Multiple treatments are usually required.

UltraShape and BTL Vanquish ME are nonsurgical, FDA-cleared procedures that use ultrasound technology to contour the body. In general, ultrasound technology is very gentle to the skin when treating stubborn pockets of fat. It involves very little to no discomfort.

Target areas:

  • abdomen
  • flanks

Treatment length:

  • Each treatment takes one hour on average, and you should be able to go back to your daily activities immediately.
  • Multiple treatments are usually required.

Kybella was approved by the FDA in 2015 as a nonsurgical injection to treat fullness in the submental area (under the chin), also known as a double chin. Kybella uses a synthetic form of deoxycholic acid, a substance that is otherwise naturally produced by the body and that helps absorb fat. Deoxycholic acid has the potential to kill fat cells. The body gradually metabolizes the dead cells during the weeks after treatment.

Target areas:

  • chin area (specifically under the chin)

Treatment length:

  • Typically, treatment takes about 30 minutes. Apart from some swelling and bruising, recovery time is minimal in most cases. You should be able to resume daily activities almost immediately.
  • Multiple treatments are usually required.

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks associated with surgical liposuction include anesthesia risks, infection, fluid accumulation, damage to deeper structures and organs, deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications, and others. Nonsurgical body contouring has fewer risks simply because it doesn’t involve surgery or anesthesia. Nonsurgical fat reduction procedures tend to be less costly compared to a surgical liposuction. In 2016, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons listed the average cost of liposuction at $3,200.

Americans spent more than $247 million on body contouring procedures in 2016 alone. It’s important to keep in mind that nonsurgical fat reduction should be accompanied by a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet and regular exercise. This will help you to maximize and maintain results.