Body contouring is an overall term used to describe a wide variety of cosmetic plastic surgery procedures. It involves resizing, reshaping, or improving the appearance of the body using various techniques for excess skin and/or fat removal. The result is a better proportioned appearance with smoother contours. The extent of body contouring and the number of techniques the surgeon will use varies depending on the goals and physical condition of an individual.
There are many types of surgical or non-surgical body contouring with today’s innovative technology. The best type of body contouring is dependent on your body shape, goals, and preferences.The surgical procedures of body contouring are performed under local or general anesthesia. The doctor will recommend the best choice for patients based on their body condition. All of these procedures require incisions that length and number of them depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. Art of the surgeon is to place incisions in locations where they can be covered by clothing.
Who is a Good Candidate for Body Contouring?
People who have excess skin in certain areas but minimal excess fat.
Those have stubborn fat deposits that won’t go away, even with good diet and exercise.
Adults whose weight loss has stabilized.
Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations and goals.
Areas of the Body Commonly Addressed with Body Contouring
Face and neck
Back and flanks
Body Contouring Surgery Consultation
The first part of the body contouring process is a comprehensive consultation with your surgeon. During your consultation, your surgeon will examine your areas of concern and look at the degree of fat and the quality of your skin. He or she may also take some measurements to help determine the degree of contouring needed to meet your aesthetic goals.
You will need to tell your surgeon about your medical history and your use of medications, supplements, nicotine, or alcohol. He or she will want to know about any previous surgeries. Depending on your medical history, your surgeon may advise you to stop taking certain medications prior to your surgery. If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking for eight weeks before or after surgery.
At the end of the consultation, your surgeon will tell you if you are a good candidate for body contouring and will educate you about your options for this surgery so that you can make an informed decision.
3 Things to Do before Your Body Contouring Surgery
Check the following tips off your list before your surgery for better results.
Maintain Your Weight Loss
You should maintain your weight loss for at least six months before your body contouring surgery. This proves that you have made the necessary lifestyle changes to maintain your new weight. While minor weight fluctuations typically are not problematic, dramatic weight fluctuations can interfere with the quality of your surgery results.
Prior to your surgery date, your surgeon will provide you with specific instructions and tips to prepare for body contouring. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions that you might think of along the way because the more you know and understand before your surgery, the smoother and easier your recovery process will be.
Some important questions to ask are:
How long should I take off of work?
What medications do I need to stop taking?
What can I expect during my recovery?
When will I see my final results?
Stop Using Tobacco Products
One of the most important things you need to do before your surgery is to stop using tobacco products. Tobacco products, including cigarettes, dip, and other forms of smokeless tobacco, contribute to a lower overall level of health and interfere with your body’s ability to heal itself after your surgery.
Tobacco products contain chemicals, nicotine, and tar decrease the amount of oxygen that your blood can transport throughout your body, resulting in infection, tissue loss, and unfavorable scars. Using these products also increases your risk of suffering from a blood clot.
Ideally, you should stop all tobacco usage 8 weeks before your surgery. Since it takes most people a few attempts to stop using tobacco successfully, it is better to start your cessation program sooner rather than later.
Some Common Body Contouring Procedures
Lifts (facelift, neck lift, arm lift, thigh lift, breast lift)
Liposuction (fat removal) is frequently used by itself or as part of another surgery, such as a tummy tuck, to help the surgeon remove excess fat. It involves sucking out unwanted fat from an area of the body that has not responded to diet and exercise. It is a very versatile technique that can be used to remove larger areas of unwanted fat, or can be used in delicate, small areas as well. The amount of fat removed depends on the volume of fat and appearance of the area.
Liposuction has become an indispensable tool for the plastic surgeon performing any body contouring procedure. It gives the surgeon the ability to create contour in any area of the body by sculpting instead of just removing fat. The resulting contour changes are permanent as long as your weight remains stable.
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)
Abdominoplasty, also known as tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin to improve the appearance of abdominal area. Factors that weaken the abdominal muscles or cause loose abdominal skin include aging, pregnancy, weight loss.
The shape and length of the incision in this surgery is determined by the amount of excess skin. For people with a moderate amount of excess skin, the incision can extend across the lower abdomen, for those with a significant amount of excess skin, it typically extends around the sides, and for people who are generally slender but have a small amount of loose skin in their lower abdomen the incision can be made just over the pubic area.
The abdominoplasty scar may take several months to a year to fade as much as it will. Following an abdominoplasty, there will be some swelling and bruising which will decrease over a period of several weeks and final results can be seen after three to five months.
Lipomatic is the newest procedure to take out unwanted fat from areas of the body with a different result compared with other fat removal methods. During lipomatic, fat cells are destroyed physically by movements of a tube called cannula (not by heat or radiation) and then are taken out of the body gently through it.
Lipomatic is usually performed as an outpatient procedure without using general anesthesia. With lipomatic, large volume of fat in one session with the least swelling, bruising, and pain. Lipomatic uses more modern tools and instruments, so possible risks and complications are rare.
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a cosmetic surgical procedure in which excess sagging skin is removed from the back of the arms. This surgery reduces pockets of fat in the upper arm region, tightens the underlying supportive tissue, and reduces excess sagging skin that droops downward.
An arm lift requires an incision from the elbow to the armpit (inside or back of the arm) that its scar will be visible and permanent. The results from arm lift surgery will be apparent almost immediately following the procedure.
A thigh lift is a surgery used to reshape the thighs by reducing excess skin and fat. This surgery can make the thighs firmer and more proportionate to the overall body image. Depending on the area or areas to be treated and patient and surgeon preference, incision patterns vary. There are two type of incisions: inner tight lift incision and outer thigh lift incision.
Following a thigh lift, skin quality will be improved both in appearance and feel, but some visible scars will remain. The results of a thigh lift are visible almost immediately; however, it may take several months for the final results to fully develop. These results will be long lasting if you maintain a stable weight.
A facelift, or rhytidectomy, is a cosmetic surgical procedure used to create a smoother and more youthful appearance by removing excess facial skin. This type of surgery improves visible signs of aging in the neck and face. It removes lines around the mouth and nose (laugh lines) and also can tighten loose and sagging skin around the jowls and neck.
The incisions in front of the ear extending up into the hair and behind the ear, and under the chin may be necessary to further improve an aging neck are usually not noticeable. Facelift surgery is usually performed under local anesthesia and the person can go home on the same day after surgery. It is important to know that a facelift does not last forever and cannot stop the aging process.
A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgical procedure to raise the breasts and restore firmness by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue. This is a suitable procedure for women who are experiencing considerable sagging and looking for a youthful breast by the tissue they already have. This loss of skin elasticity can result from aging, breastfeeding, weight fluctuations, etc.
During this procedure, the surgeon removes excess skin and lifts the breasts back up where they are supposed to be. A breast lift can enhance self-esteem and quality of life and women usually achieve desired results. Some women may consider placement of a breast implant in addition to the breast lift to have fuller breasts. So depending on the experience of the surgeon, implants can be placed at the same time or as a second procedure.
Recovery and Results
You will experience bruising and swelling after body contouring. The results of body contouring following major weight loss are visible almost immediately; however, it can take several months to see the final results. Most patients can return to work within two weeks of their surgery. By maintaining general fitness and a stable weight, the results of body contouring will be long-lasting. However, there is no guarantee to achieve optimal results from the procedure.