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Your Guide to Body Contouring

woman doing yoga with a friend

Some things in life you just can’t change. Whether you’ve lost weight resulting in loose or hanging skin, or you’ve experienced pregnancy resulting in muscle separation, or you’ve always been pretty toned but have those stubborn areas with a bit of extra fat (the lower abdomen, thighs, muffin top, etc.)—we get it.

We’ve met so many patients who are already stunning inside and out, but sometimes they want a little extra help to feel truly awesome. And we love that. Helping you feel amazing is basically the best part of our job. That’s why we’ve put together our guide to body contouring so you can get to know your options if these concerns seem familiar to you.

What is Body Contouring?

Sometimes no matter what lifestyle changes you make, there are parts of your body that don’t look or feel the way you want them to. Addressing these areas of concern can feel impossible, and sometimes it can feel even more daunting as we age. Time, pregnancy, weight loss, hereditary traits, age, lifestyle and other factors all contribute to the ways our bodies change (thankfully, they impart a lot of invaluable life experience too).

Body contouring refers to surgeries that help address excess skin and unwanted fat. Think procedures that can help shape your body to your desired proportions and create a more refined silhouette.

Which parts of the body are most affected?

After significant weight loss, excess skin is common around the thighs, buttocks, back, upper arms, groin, face, and neck, among other areas. The most common area of concern is definitely the abdomen. An overhanging flap of loose skin known as the “pannus” sometimes suspends from the abdomen to the groin region or lower.

After going through a challenging and lengthy weight loss process, we meet a lot of frustrated patients who are ready to remove the pannus once they have stabilized their weight. And while it might simply not be aesthetically pleasing for some, it can also be really uncomfortable and case skin irritation, rashes and lower back pain for others. It can literally prevent some people from feeling their best.

Tummy Tuck

An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, removes excess skin and fat to create a tight and flat abdomen. It’s a great option if you’ve experienced weight loss, pregnancy or even just the basic effects of time.

While it’s probably common knowledge that a tummy tuck can remove excess tissue, did you know it can also repair muscle? Often during pregnancy, the two major rectus abdominal muscles actually come apart—a huge testament to what a woman’s body is capable of in supporting the life and growth of her baby. For some women, these muscles do not come back together after childbirth, creating a condition known as rectus diastasis that leads to added lower abdominal fullness.

Unfortunately, sit-ups and other exercises won’t bring these muscles back together. With abdominoplasty surgery, we’re able to suture them together while also removing excess skin and fat, creating a silhouette more in line with your goals. 

Lift Procedures to Address Excess Skin

Body contouring can also encompass treatments like arm lift or thigh lift, especially after substantial weight loss. As we gain weight, our skin stretches to accommodate added volume. In some cases, after losing this weight, people discover they have excess skin in different areas of the body that does not conform to the new contours of their body. This excess skin can only be addressed surgically.

Liposuction

If you have areas of stubborn fat that don’t seem to respond to changes in diet or exercise, no matter how hard you try, then liposuction might be a good option for you. Using only small incisions, your surgeon can make use of different techniques to suction out this unwanted fat. It can treat areas all over the body, though it’s most commonly requested for the abdomen, hips, thighs and upper arms. Smaller areas like the neck, chin or cheeks are also viable for treatment.

Bonus: liposuction can be performed in the same operation with other procedures, like abdominoplasty or other body contouring treatments, to help you achieve the best result possible.

Double bonus: are you familiar with the Brazilian Butt Lift procedure? In this surgery, your doctor uses liposuction to remove unwanted fat from different areas of the body, which is then carefully treated and artfully injected into the bum to create more of an hourglass figure using your own existing tissue. It’s basically actual magic, which might be why it’s becoming so popular.

The Non-Surgical Option: CoolSculpting

There’s also the non-invasive option of CoolSculpting for those of us looking for non-invasive fat reduction. CoolSculpting uses cryolipolysis or “fat-freezing” to break down fat cells, resulting in a reduction of body fat without damage to other tissues. Pretty cool!

It’s a much beloved procedure because you can have a treatment during your lunch break and go back to work while keeping it totally on the DL. Over the months that follow, your dead fat cells are slowly processed and cleared by your body and your result becomes more and more apparent. It requires no surgery, no anaesthetic, no needles and pretty much no downtime.

The downside? Because it is a non-surgical treatment, the final result is not quite as dramatic as with some of the options above. However if you’re not ready for surgery, you’re not a good candidate or if you don’t need a dramatic change, it could be the perfect solution.

How should I choose my plastic surgeon?

Don’t be afraid to take your time, ask a lot of questions and meet with different surgeons. It’s kind of like dating—your result can be a lifelong commitment, so it’s worth while to take the time to feel totally confident in your decision.

Your plastic surgeon should be board-certified, trained and experienced in treating all of your areas of concern who will tailor their approach to your specific needs. Ask your prospective surgeon for before and after photos of past patients they have treated who have presented with similar concerns as you. Keep in mind no two results will ever be exactly the same, but looking through photos can give you a good idea of realistic expectations for your surgical outcomes.

Want to know what to look for in before and after photos while you’re cruising Instagram? Check out Dr. Austin’s before and after photo recommendations.

Which body contouring procedure is right for you?

Every patient’s body is different. Our surgeons at The Plastic Surgery Clinic will work with you to put together a game plan to achieve the results you want. Our consultations are always free, so visit us and find out how we can help you on this exciting journey. We can’t wait to meet you!

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