Does Body Contouring Really Work?

Woman receiving body contouring on stomach

Surgical procedures to reshape areas of the body, such as tummy tucks, Brazilian butt lifts, and liposuction, are not procedures that should be taken lightly. They’re expensive, often painful, and require significant rest and recovery time. It’s little wonder, therefore, that body contouring procedures have become so popular. They are performed in-office and have a significantly lower patient recovery and risk burden. But do they work?

What Can I Expect From a Body Contouring Treatment?

Surgical procedures to reshape the body provide almost immediate results—the fat and/or loose skin are gone by the time your procedure is over. However, with body contouring (also known as body sculpting) procedures, patience is the name of the game. Your results will appear over weeks or months, and repeated treatments are sometimes needed to achieve the best look. If you’re unwilling to wait for results, a body contouring treatment may not suit you.

What Kinds of Body Contouring Procedures Are Available?

There are plenty of body sculpting treatments out there, and it can be somewhat confusing; that said, if you have a problem area on your body, chances are good there’s a treatment for it. Some of the most popular body contouring options are:

Cryolipolysis: This procedure uses cold to zap away fat in your problem areas. Once the fat cells are frozen and thus damaged, your body absorbs and flushes them away over the next few weeks and months. CoolSculpting is the brand name for the only FDA-approved cryolipolysis treatment. It is approved to treat arms, the under-the-chin area, the abdomen, hip flanks, and more. The treatment can be repeated if needed.

Laser lipolysis: Using the same fat-cell-damaging principles as cryolipolysis, this treatment uses lasers that penetrate the skin. It does not damage other cells, and the fat disappears gradually. Two brand names for laser lipolysis include SculpSure and Zerona. Repeated treatments are sometimes needed for optimal results.

Radiofrequency (RF)

Injection lipolysis: While cryolipolysis and laser lipolysis don’t use needles, this procedure does. It employs deoxycholic acid, which naturally occurs in your body to digest fat. The deoxycholic acid breaks down the fat in your target area, resulting in a slimmer look. In a typical treatment session, you’ll receive anywhere from 20 to 50 shots; multiple sessions are usually needed. The only FDA-approved brand name for this procedure is Kybella, which is approved for treating fat underneath the chin.

Filler for butt augmentation: The Brazilian butt lift, which enhances and rounds out the shape of the buttocks, is a popular procedure, but it is painful and has a relatively high rate of complications among cosmetic surgeries. Injections with the same substances used in facial fillers can lift the butt and give it more volume. Popular butt-enhancing fillers are Sculptra and Juvederm. These substances, however, are used off-label, meaning they are not FDA-approved for butt enhancement.

Are There Any Side Effects With Body Contouring?

FDA-approved noninvasive body contouring procedures are proven safe, but they are not without risk. There are a few side effects that you may experience (though it is unlikely). Most of the body contouring treatments carry a risk of irritation, swelling, and bruising at the treatment site. These effects usually fade within a few days.

CoolSculpting also carries a small risk of paradoxical adipose hyperplasia. This condition causes fat cells in the treatment area to grow larger rather than smaller, resulting in unsightly lumps rather than a slimdown. Liposuction is often required to correct it.

Is Body Contouring Effective?

Many studies of body contouring treatments have found them to work well. One small study of 10 subjects, published in 2009, found CoolSculpting to reduce the fat layer in the treatment area by 20 to 25 percent. Another showed a reduction in the fat layer by about 23 percent within three months, with the most outstanding results seen in the abdominal, back, and flank areas. However, few long-term studies have been conducted on CoolSculpting.

Studies of injection lipolysis with Kybella have also shown promise. A double-masked, placebo-controlled study published in 2016 found that 70% of the subjects who received the injection saw significant results.

Studies on laser lipolysis treatment have shown mixed results. One study published in 2016 found that “significant reductions in waist circumference” occurred in most of the 44 subjects who received Zerona laser therapy and medication therapy with a weight loss drug. Another published in 2011, however, found that laser therapy did not cause a significant fat reduction.

How Can I Learn More About Body Contouring Treatments?

We’re here to help! The team at NaDerm are always happy to answer questions about body contouring procedures and which are best. Contact us to set up a free evaluation and consultation.

Our Locations

North Atlanta Dermatology has five locations around Northern Atlanta to serve you.

Duluth Office

3850 Pleasant Hill Road
Duluth, Georgia 30096

Suwanee Office

3370 Paddocks Pkwy.
Suwanee, GA 30024

Hamilton Office

3331 Hamilton Mill, Suite 1106
Buford, GA 30519

Cumming Office

1230 Bald Ridge Marina Rd., Suite 300
Cumming, GA 30041

Marietta Office

1519 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 175
Marietta, GA 30062