Your Body Contouring Questions Answered: Get Your Body Summer Ready

With the official start of Spring and warmer weather, we have replaced those scarves, gloves, and sweaters with tank tops, shorts and, yes, very soon, we’ll be pulling out our swimsuits. Although donning a swimsuit can be a source of stress for some, it doesn’t have to be.

During our live chat on Tuesday, March 20th, hosted by Emory Aesthetic Center’s plastic surgeon, Dr. Felmont Eaves, we answered questions about body contouring options to help shape your body for the summer season. Dr. Eaves discussed both surgical and non-surgical procedures – including liposuction, tummy tucks, and Coolsculpting®.

Below are just highlights from the chat. You can also visit emoryaesthetic.org for a full list of services and treatments offered by the Emory Aesthetic Center.

Is there an alternative body contouring method that does not include surgery?

Dr. Eaves: Yes, the most common non-surgical body contouring technique is cryolipolysis, most commonly known by the brand name CoolSculpting®. This procedure uses the freezing of fat. In some patients, it can provide excellent results without downtime. Other patients will do better with liposuction or another procedure. Your physician should be able to help you figure out which is best for you.

What is the difference between laser liposuction and regular liposuction?

Dr. Eaves: There are many different types of liposuction. The original type, which we call Suction Assisted Lipectomy (SAL), uses a hollow tube with holes in the end connected to a suction tube to remove the fat. We still use that very commonly. Sometimes doctors want to use an energy source to help break up the fat. This can be a laser, ultrasound, vibrating tip, or water jet. While companies hype that their machine is better, in general, they all can give excellent results, and I don’t feel that any one technology is superior to another from the patient’s perspective.

What type of breast implant gives the most natural result?

Dr. Eaves: There is currently a lot of hype about breast implant styles in breast augmentation. In terms of the fill material, silicone gel feels and looks more natural. In terms of the shape of the implant, most women do very well with round implants, which when standing will assume a tear-drop shape. In some cases, special shaped implants might have benefited, but I believe that this is in the minority of cases.

Is it possible to have fat taken from my belly and injected into my buttocks or breasts?

Dr. Eaves: It most certainly is. We term this autologous fat grafting or AFG. This is very common for the enhancement of buttock volume, especially since there are no FDA approved buttock implants available in the United States. Fat grafting to the breast is certainly done, but here, it is most often done as an adjunct to other procedures to provide small areas of fill. Breast augmentation with fat grafting alone is a challenge as it is difficult to get significant changes in volume without multiple surgical procedures.

What is the recovery time for liposuction? And when will I be able to wear a 2-piece after the procedure?

Dr. Eaves: When I talk about recovery time, I always like to talk about recovery “to what point?”. In a typical liposuction patient, you should be able to be up and walking in the house later that day. Typically you would be off of pain medications in 2-3 days and would be able to drive. Many patients can return to work in a week or less. In terms of wearing a 2-piece suit and feeling comfortable, that will vary depending on how quickly the swelling goes down. Typically after three weeks we really start to see the swelling go down, but it may take 2-3 months until your feeling really good about the results. Even then, the results will likely continue to improve and the last bits of swelling will fade in an additional 3 months or so.

What if I do not qualify for the surgical procedure? Do you have any recommendations to lose the excess skin around the love handles?

Dr. Eaves: As in the previous question, CoolSculpting® might be able to help you reduce the fat, but neither CoolSculpting® nor liposuction significantly tightens the skin. If you want to tighten the skin, it does require a surgery. Some companies state that they can shrink skin, but to me, most of the results look really questionable.

What options are there to get rid of stretch marks?

Dr. Eaves: Stretch marks are hard to remove, and in general there are no great treatments to remove them. There is an exception, however, when the stretch marks are below the belly button. In that case a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) can remove most – and on occasional all – of the stretch marks.

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