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The real skinny on body contouring…

Saturday May 31, 2014 | Body Contouring

So what’s the real skinny?
We offer three different options to help trim your waistline and get your curves back where you want them. Coolsculpting, Liposuction, and Tummy Tuck. You can find lots of information about them on our website, but a lot of patients still ask, Ok, so what’s the best procedure? What’s the real skinny on these body contouring procedures? So here’s the skinny. The good, the bad, and the belly!


Fat freezing is hot! Coolsculpting was developed by two Harvard dermatologists and has quickly jumped to the forefront of body contouring. Why the excitement over Coolsculpting? Coolsculpting offers a 20% reduction in fat in the treatment area after a one hour treatment. It’s completely non-invasive. There is no anesthesia, no incision, and no downtime, and you can even stagger your appointments to meet your budget. We consider Coolsculpting to be the first truly effective, non-invasive fat reduction technology.

Coolsculpting is extremely popular with our patients. Patients like the ability to schedule their treatments without worrying about long recovery or downtime. They like not having to undergo surgery. They like being able to schedule treatments that fit into their lifestyle instead of putting their lifestyle on hold to have surgery….and they like the results. It sounds like we just stumbled onto the fountain of skinny, but Coolsculpting patients need realistic expectations about the results and costs required to get those results.

I hate to repeat myself, but as good as Coolsculpting is, (and it is excellent) it’s not a tummy tuck. Again, look at our before and afters and ask yourself what your goals are. What your recovery and financial expectations are. If what you want is a tummy tuck then move in that direction. If you are happy with the thought of smaller abdomen, flanks, or thighs and don’t want the recovery or expense of surgery then you should definitely consider Coolsculpting. For more information on Coolsculpting Click here!

Coolsculpting costs can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. A single treatment starts at $750 but most patients should expect to need four or more treatments depending on the areas of concern and how much reduction they want. A package of four treatments is $2700 which is pretty economical when compared to surgery, but some larger patients may need 10 or more cycles to achieve their desired results. A 10 cycle package costs $5000 (a $2500 savings off individual pricing. Patients will see significant reductions with this type of package without the cost and recovery of surgery. Coolsculpting is FDA cleared for treatment of the abdomen, flanks, thighs, arms, and double chin area.


Liposuction burst on to the aesthetic scene in the 80s’ with some great successes and fairly public disasters. Now almost 40 years later, Liposuction technique and technology have seen significant improvements. Today’s liposuction offers excellent results and proven safety. Liposuction can sculpt small pockets as well as large areas, and costs are a fraction of a tummy tuck. For this comparison we are really just looking at liposuction of the abdomen and flanks, but liposuction can provide great definition to other areas such as the neck, arms, and thighs. Look closely at the patient below. She received liposuction on the hips (not the abdomen) but the overall result is a slimmer and better proportioned figure.

So what’s the skinny on liposuction?
During Liposuction small incisions allow a cannula to be inserted under the skin to access pockets of fat. The fat is sculpted away and removed by suction through the cannula. Smaller areas can be done under local anesthesia, but larger areas will be done in an OR setting under general anesthesia. We perform both tumescent liposuction and laser liposuction depending on the area and volume being treated. Laser liposuction has the added benefit of tightening the skin in the area being treated, so it offers an advantage for people concerned with loose skin. Full abdominal liposuction under anesthesia can be less than half the costs of a tummy tuck.


Example of hip liposuction results

So what’s the liposuction trade off?
Mainly it’s recovery and some results. Patients should expect to take some time to recover from a large volume liposuction procedure. There may be bruising and soreness for several weeks after liposuction and patients will need to wear a surgical garmet for 6-8 weeks after liposuction to reduce swelling and ensure results. While liposuction will suck away your fat it will not tighten muscles like a tummy tuck and even the skin tightening from laser liposuction may not be enough to take care of all the loose skin issues for some patients. We find that most of our patients choose to combine liposuction with a tummy tuck in lieu of liposuction only for the abdomen. Still, liposuction is a great option to shape and contour your figure. According to ASAPS it was the most popular surgical procedure nationwide last year. It is highly effective and provides excellent results. For more information on liposuction Click here!

The Tummy Tuck

An abdominoplasty (aka Tummy Tuck) is the most expensive and most invasive of the four procedures. It can also provide some of the best results. A tummy can address loose skin and fat and repair abdominal muscles to help maintain long term aesthetic results. (A particular benefit to women after child birth and mothers of multiples). Liposuction can be combined with your tummy tuck to refine the results, and the combined procedure provides dramatic results. More than any other body contouring procedure, Tummy tucks can offer dramatic and comprehensive results.

So what’s the downside of getting a tummy tuck? Recovery and costs.

Costs – Like a new Mercedes or BMW, tummy tuck results are sleek and sexy………and expensive. Patients need to budget around 10k for a tummy tuck and those costs could be more depending on whether or not you include significant liposuction. That’s a big investment. Is it worth it? Absolutely, but if a tummy tuck is outside your budget, Coolsculpting, Vanquish, or Liposuction may still be good options for you.

Recovery – Second thing to consider is the tummy tuck recovery. Abdominoplasty recovery will take several weeks. The initial post procedure discomfort can be controlled with long acting topical pain relief such as Exparel, but patients should expect some soreness and swelling for several weeks post procedure. You will have restricted motion for the first two weeks and then gradually return to normal activities. Expect at least 4 post op visits so we can monitor your healing and progress. You will also have a tummy tuck scar. You can’t avoid it. It’s typically hidden by your bathing suit or clothes, but it’s there. Silicone gel or sheets will help minimize the scar, and it can also be treated with BBL (IPL) and profractional laser scar treatments if its raised or red. It will diminish and fade over time, and most people say it’s a small trade off for the great results a tummy tuck offers. For more information on tummy tucks Click here!

I hope this provides a little better explanation of the differences between the various body contouring options available today. They are not a replacement for diet and exercise, but for the right patient these procedures can help you refine your frame and accentuate your curves. That’s the real skinny.

Contact us to explore your options

Rejuvenate Your Face and Body

Many patients come to see Dr. Sarah Mess from the Baltimore, and Washington DC areas because of her ability to provide their face and body with a revitalized look that appears naturally youthful. For all of your cosmetic needs, please call (410) 559-9468 or use the form below to request a consultation.

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