As we grow older, our bodies tend to gradually amass stubborn fat in certain areas, leaving a lot of people dissatisfied with their body shape. This dissatisfaction is worsened when in the quest for an ideal physique people get engaged in frustrating body exercises and intense dieting with little or nothing to show for at the end of considerable time.

Excess or stubborn fat could be as a result of numerous factors which may include pregnancy, ageing, health conditions.

Over the while, multiple treatment patterns and systems have subsequently been developed to help curb the problem of unwanted fat and cater to individuals who intend to rid themselves of excess fat. Luckily there are now a plethora of both surgical and non-surgical treatment procedures unlike in the past when the attempt to eliminate excess fat may have been limited to mostly surgery.

These various procedures of both surgical and non-invasive techniques in removing excessive fat and reshaping and structuring the body to suit individuals are generally termed body sculpting.

What is Body Sculpting?

Body sculpting otherwise referred to as body contouring is the general term used to refer to both surgical and non-surgical procedures which are designed to remodel, restructure and improve a person’s physical appearance. It is a treatment that tends to eliminate stubborn and excess body fat without recourse to the gym and strict dieting. Body sculpting in this era is regarded as the remedy to the wearing of the body due to ageing and other consequent factors. There are different procedures for body sculpting or contouring although all procedures and techniques may be classified into these categories.

Surgical body contouring and non- surgical body contouring

Invasive, semi-invasive and non-invasive body contouring

How body sculpting works?

Body sculpting treatments to an extent all work in a similar way. They are all concerned with the breaking down of excess fat cells which is then removed from the body through the lymphatic system. For some treatment techniques and procedures, treated areas are less likely to replenish in volume of the fat cells and as such be said to be effective long term treatments.

Common reasons for attempting body sculpting

  • Childbearing
  • Breastfeeding
  • Ageing
  • Unnecessary accumulation of fat
  • Dissatisfaction with sagging skin mostly noticed in people who have lost considerable weight.  

Patient assessment

When an individual is to undergo body sculpting, such person is advised to seek a physician who may then give a clinical recommendation of areas of the person’s body that require treatment and what method of treatment most suitable to be applied.

Types of body sculpting treatments available to patients

It is important to understand that there are surgical body sculpting procedures otherwise called invasive body sculpting techniques and there are also non-surgical techniques for body sculpting to be able to choose which option may be best suited for your body condition. It is as well necessary to understand the differences between both modalities. This article clearly differentiates both modalities.

Non-surgical body sculpting procedures

There are various non-surgical sculpting procedures to remove excess pockets of fat to sculpt and shape different sections of the body. These non-surgical fat reduction procedures are mostly based on the following;


Radiofrequency lipolysis

Laser lipolysis

Injection lipolysis

Cyrolipolysis body sculpting procedure

Cyrolipolysis is a non-invasive fat removal technique that uses cold temperatures to freeze and destroy targeted fat cells in various areas of the body through technologies like coolsculpting.  The freezing temperature directed at targeted fat cells kills the fat cells without damaging the skin or any surrounding tissue. Dead fat cells are eventually flushed out of your body system naturally. Normally these flushed out cells are not expected to reappear again. Coolsculpting is best for areas like the abdomen, thighs, arms, back, and chin.

Treatment with this technique takes about 30-60 minutes for one area. To obtain satisfactory results, it is advised that you take multiple treatments. The technique is cleared and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Radio Frequency Lipolysis body sculpting procedure

This treatment sends precisely controlled energy to excess fat areas which create enough heat within the fat cells to melt them and totally destroy them. It is better explained as a procedure that makes use of radio frequency to heat the fat cells without having the instrument getting in physical contact with the body. Fat cells are specifically heated without harming other surrounding cells or the skin. Common examples of radio frequency lipolysis are UltraShape and Vanquish ME.

The purpose of the radio frequency lipolysis is to reduce the volume of pocket fat. The procedure is carried out without anaesthesia and the risks of using the radio frequency lipolysis are minimal. However, patients with loose skin and/or poor skin tone may not be regarded as suitable candidates for the procedure. Treatment may take up to thirty minutes and should be repeated from time to time for better results.

Laser lipolysis body sculpting procedure

The laser lipolysis is a non-invasive technique that requires the use of laser energy from fibre-optic lasers at specific wavelengths to melt excess body fat. The laser lipolysis has been said to be a safe, quick and effective treatment for body fat. Treatment time takes up to 25 minutes for each treatment and there could be little to no downtime at all. One notable feature of the laser lipolysis is the speed of recovery. Patients may be up and back to work within a few days subsequent to the procedure.

Injection lipolysis body sculpting procedure

This technique reduces the volume of fat and the number of fat cells around the area that is injected. The injection lipolysis is mainly used for the chin area. A synthetic form of the chemical deoxycholic acid is injected to disrupt and kill fat cells under the chin to eliminate the condition termed double chin. The procedure for injection lipolysis is first injecting anaesthesia into the area to be treated under the chin, then injecting a precise quantity of medication into a pattern which has already been pre-marked on the skin under the chin. The medication is to be injected as a single treatment although patients may have more than one treatment between four to six weeks.

The known FDA approved type of injection lipolysis is the kybella. Treatment also takes about thirty minutes.

These listed non-surgical treatment procedures are best suited for individuals with healthy body weight.

Risks of non-surgical treatment body sculpting procedures

From the variety of options of non-surgical body contouring and fat reduction procedures and technologies, we may believe that there is almost no risk to body sculpting however that is not entirely true as no procedures nor modalities can be 100 percent free of risk. Side effects may vary from patient to patient and may as well be dependent on the particular technique or procedure used on a patient. While some patients may experience temporary redness of skin, discomfort, irritation, others may experience minor bruises, numbness and more. Some patients may even be left with scars especially where treatment is for removal of just the surface layer of fat. This may even go to the extent of causing unevenness in body contours.

Also, most of the procedures, especially the laser lipolysis and radio frequency techniques which are generally heated inclined may inflict a certain amount of pain although not necessarily severe except in dire circumstances. And since these treatments last just about twenty to thirty minutes per session, they may not require anaesthesia so patients are left to endure the pain involved.

Surgical body sculpting procedure

Liposuction also referred to as suction lipectomy or lipoplasty is a cosmetic or aesthetic surgical procedure which eliminates excess fat from targeted areas of the body.    

It is a semi-invasive surgical technique which removes excess fat from specific areas of the body and sculpts the body to the desired shape. It safely eliminates excess fatty tissues while contouring the body into shape. Liposuction can be used for almost all areas of the body. These include the abdominal area, the back, legs, face and also the neck area.

For many years, liposuction has been one of the most popular cosmetics procedures for cosmetic surgery patients. It is a surgical procedure for removing fat which became quite popular in the 1980s. In this procedure, a certified cosmetic/plastic surgeon carefully sucks out excess fat through a small tube called the cannula. The cannula is moved through the fat deposit, removing all the excess fat cells while sculpting a much slimmer body.

Liposuction although frequently used alone as a singular means of treatment, may be used alongside another fat reduction procedure like the modified technique called the laser-assisted liposuction which makes use of lasers to liquefy fat and before suction of excess fat as well helps tighten the skin to prevent sagging skin.

Candidate for Liposuction

Liposuction procedure is more effective for patients with stable weight or have attained a balanced weight but have pockets of fat which most times become annoying and disgusting to bear as they do not respond to rigorous exercise or steady dieting.

Also, this surgery is most effective in young and healthy adults whose skin may in time shape itself over new body contours.

Patients whose weight gain is twenty percent above their normal body weight may receive a generally poor outcome from liposuction. And patients with chronic medical issues may not be suitable candidates for the procedure.

Liposuction and non surgical procedures

There are pros and cons to both liposuction and non-surgical body contouring. Although fat cells may be permanently eliminated in areas of the body, it does not mean that they cannot be accumulated over a period of time if unchecked. So even after engaging in these procedures patients are still required to check on their weight gain regularly.

Both liposuction and non-surgical procedures are not entirely pain-free procedures as some procedures do not require that the patient is given anaesthesia before the process.

Then you have the scars mostly obtained from liposuction, the redness of the skin, bruising, tenderness and numbness of skin and more. These are usually common after effects of body sculpting or contouring and they may remain for an undetermined period of time depending on the particular patient or procedure used. Some after effects remain for up to three or four weeks after the treatment while others main disappear after a few days of treatment.  

Non-surgical procedures have fewer risks as compared to liposuction simply because it does not involve surgery or require anaesthesia. Liposuction involves risks such as damage to other structures and organs of the body, dehydration, overhydration, infections, and sometimes allergic reactions to anaesthesia however allergic reactions are known to be quite rare.

While patients engaged in non-surgical or non-invasive procedures do not usually require an extended period of time to heal thereby allowing them to return back to work and other activities quickly, liposuction requires patients to limit their daily activities and for a much longer period of time. It also demands that they exercise caution in commencing work and other activities after this healing period.

Which body sculpting procedure is most suitable for me? 

Where you intend to eliminate larger volumes of pocket fat, liposuction may be deemed a better option as it can significantly improve your body in several areas simultaneously. Opting for this procedure demands readiness to pay a much higher cost and the analysis of the possible risks and health complications involved.

For individuals who are already at a balanced or ideal weight, and want to remove the fat at targeted areas then the non-surgical approach would be more suitable. Because the non-surgical approach is non-invasive therefore with considerably much more limited risk than the surgical approach. It is necessary to also bear in mind that this non-surgical method may not provide a much obvious result compared to liposuction. Also since treatment is rarely above an hour, multiple treatment sessions may be necessary for a patient.

Notwithstanding, the non-surgical procedures are slightly more cost-effective than surgery and it does not restrict the patient from returning to everyday activities as soon as they want.