Does Body Contouring Really Work? Surgical vs. Nonsurgical Options

Two athletic-looking women (models) doing yoga indoors.

Body contouring procedures are meant to improve your shape, helping you to fit into your clothes better and improving your self-confidence. But does body contouring really work? Is a surgical or nonsurgical procedure best?

The good news is that most body contouring procedures really do work. Several surgical and nonsurgical procedures can reduce stubborn fat, tighten loose skin, and reshape your body. The challenge can come with deciding which body contouring option can give you the taut, sculpted body you want. To help you better understand your surgical versus nonsurgical options, here are some issues to consider.

Downtime Is Less With Nonsurgical Options

A significant advantage of a nonsurgical procedure is its shorter, easier recovery. If you want a flatter midsection, you can opt for surgical procedures such as liposuction or a tummy tuck or nonsurgical CoolSculpting®. A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat, repairs separated ab muscles, and tightens the skin, but it has a longer, more complicated recovery than CoolSculpting.

In contrast, there is zero to minimal recovery after CoolSculpting, although you may need several treatment sessions for the best results. While a procedure with shorter downtime may seem more appealing, be aware that it may not address all your body concerns the way a surgical procedure can.

Results Are More Impressive With Surgery

After a tummy tuck, you will see results almost immediately, although swelling may take a while to completely resolve so that you can see your full results. A nonsurgical treatment such as CoolSculpting, on the other hand, requires a few months for your body to naturally flush the damaged fat cells. Even after that time, CoolSculpting results cannot usually match the dramatic effects of a tummy tuck or a body lift.

Furthermore, CoolSculpting and other nonsurgical fat reduction treatments can reduce fat in the treatment area by about 20%, but they cannot eliminate loose, excess skin. They also cannot tighten the remaining skin to sculpt your curves and planes the way a tummy tuck, body lift, arm lift, or thigh lift can. The real patient before and after pictures below can give you an idea of the type of results that are possible with tummy tuck surgery combined with liposuction.


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Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 34 View #1 View in Kalispell, MT
Before & After Liposuction & Tummy Tuck Surgery
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 101 Left Side View in Kalispell, MT
Before & After Liposuction & Tummy Tuck Surgery
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 91 View #1 View in Kalispell, MT
Before & After Liposuction & Tummy Tuck Surgery

Discomfort Is Milder With Nonsurgical Treatment

You may experience mild to moderate discomfort after a surgical procedure such as liposuction, tummy tuck, or post-weight loss body contouring. In some cases, you will need pain medication to manage the discomfort during the first few weeks. With CoolSculpting, you will be relatively comfortable and able to resume your normal routine immediately.

Rely on the Advice of Your Plastic Surgeon

In the end, it all comes down to what is more important to you in regard to downtime, results, convenience, and discomfort. Your provider will be an invaluable resource, helping you weigh each option’s pros and cons and advising you on what is likely to best achieve your goals and fit your lifestyle. If you’re ready to talk about body contouring with an experienced plastic surgeon, request a consultation using our online form or call us at (406) 609-0210 to schedule an appointment. 

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