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Andrew McGregor, MD

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When deciding of what type of cosmetic treatment or procedure is most appropriate for you, many factors come into play regarding this decision. Commitments to work, ease of recovery, budget, and desired results all play a factor in deciding what is right for you. With the advent of non-invasive technologies in plastic surgery, many patients are looking for quick procedure with minimal downtime. Many times for the expectations of the patients, this can present a challenge as a more invasive procedure will optimize what the patient is looking for in terms of long term results and satisfaction. 

Coolsculpting® is a popular non-invasive body contouring system that works by freezing fat cells through a process known as cryolipolysis. Coolsculpting® treatments are non-invasive, can take as little as an hour for a treatment, and there is no downtime for work, gym, or any activities. Adjunctive other technology such as CoolTone® can be added to help stimulate the muscles underneath the skin to become more tone. Cooltone® in combination with Coolsculpting® can reduce fat volume in the treated area and tone the underlying muscle to help complement the hard work that you do in the gym. 

While the benefits of Coolsculpting® and other non-invasive treatments include minimal downtime and no incisions, patients who are looking for more fat reduction or removal of skin are better candidates for surgical procedures. Many patients that have gained and lost a lot of weight will have more excess skin than fat. This is an important factor in deciding whether non-invasive methods versus surgical procedures are right for you. 

Liposuction is a common procedure that involves removal of fat cells by a cannula. There are different methods for liposuction that are reliable and safe. Standard liposuction removes fat and will cause some mild skin retraction. This is a good technique for those with areas of fat that do not have a lot of skin laxity. The use of adjunctive methods such as ultrasonic or laser techniques do cause more skin retraction. This can be good for patients with mild laxity. 

Skin removal surgeries such as abdominoplasty and body lift procedures are a more dramatic means to remove excess skin of the abdomen and back. These procedures are very common in women who have had children, and in patients with massive weight loss. Abdominoplasty treats three components of the front of the abdomen. These are skin, fat, and muscle. Abdominoplasty tightens the core and removes excess skin and fat. A body lift does all three of these and also includes lifting the buttocks and removing excess skin on the lower back region. 

Recovery is a big deciding factor in patients deciding between surgery versus non-surgical procedures. Enhanced recovery options are now part of the care plan for many patients undergoing surgical procedures to manage discomfort and reduce the need for narcotic pain medication. One option is to use a long-acting local anesthesia that is placed in areas of regional nerves while you’re asleep during surgery. This helps block more pain receptors leading to a smoother recovery and faster return to activities and work. 

When deciding to pursue non-surgical versus surgical approaches to body contouring, it ultimately comes down to what your goals are. If you are looking to reduce and tone areas without downtime, non-surgical methods maybe your best option. However, if you are seeking to remove loose, excess skin or a larger volume of fat, surgery may be your best option. Either way, the first step is starting with a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon to discuss what is right for you. 

Look good, feel good. Discover a healthier, happier you! 

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