close up of a woman's waist and abs in white underwear holding her stomach

Body sculpting procedures – also called body contouring procedures – are procedures designed to reshape the body to add muscle, reduce fat, or contour specific areas like the thighs, buttocks, or abdomen. While surgical procedures like liposuction have long been popular, in 2021 we are seeing a rise of non-invasive options.

Advances in body sculpting techniques in recent years have made the procedures more accessible to more people. Many procedures are now minimally invasive and come with less downtime and side effects.  Body sculpting remains incredibly popular for those seeking to enhance their looks.

Body sculpting is often a way to overcome plateaus associated with diet and exercise. If you are unable to rid a certain area of fat or cannot gain additional muscle despite rigorous weight training, body sculpting can help you get to the next level. This can improve your self-esteem and self-image, helping you gain more confidence.

If you are interested in body sculpting, below we will outline some of the most innovative treatments on the market today.


EmSculpt is a somewhat new procedure, but already FDA-approved. The procedure can both get rid of unwanted fat deposits and stimulate muscle development through the use of high-intensity electromagnetic energy.

During an Emsculpt treatment, your practitioner will secure the therapeutic hand-piece to the treatment area used to administer electromagnetic energy. This forces your muscles to contract rapidly. During a regular workout, muscles contract and this is what burns fat and creates muscle tone and growth. EmSculpt simulates 20,000 crunches in 30 minutes.

The results can be dramatic. EmSculpt can eliminate up to 19% of the fat in the treatment area. It also builds muscle, giving you both a slimmer and stronger appearance. You can expect to see some results right away and your body will continue to improve the weeks following the series of three to four treatments.

The entire treatment takes no more than half an hour and you can resume your regular activities right away. While you may experience some pain, it is no different than the soreness you would experience after an intense workout.


CoolSculpting is a type of “cold treatment,” which means it uses cold temperatures to trigger fat reduction in targeted areas of the body. It has been FDA-approved since 2010 and is considered safe for most healthy adults. It is used frequently on areas like the abdomen, buttocks, and thighs.

Cold temperatures trigger fat cells to apoptosis (programmed cell death), and become expelled from the body. During CoolSculpting, your practitioner will strap a CoolSculpting treatment head to the treatment site. The treatment can be quite cold for the first several minutes, but the area quickly becomes numb, making the rest of the treatment quite comfortable. The entire procedure takes between 35 to 60 minutes. Post-Treatment regiment includes optional compression and you can return to your normal activities right away.

CoolSculpting results can be quite dramatic. Often, you can remove 20 to 25% of the fat volume from the treatment site. However, CoolSculpting and body sculpting treatments in general are never a substitute for weight loss. If you put on weight after undergoing CoolSculpting, you can still gain weight, however your fat distribution will forever be altered.


Evolve can build muscle, reduce fat, and tighten skin through the use of radiofrequency wavelengths and electromuscular stimulation. One of the newest devices on the market, Evolve is a great option for those looking for a noninvasive form of body contouring. Evolve can fix issues caused by dramatic weight loss such as sagging skin. 

Evolve can be used in areas like the abdomen, arms, hips, thighs, and waist. During treatment, your practitioner attaches a device to the treatment area. While you may experience a slight tingling, treatment is not painful. The procedure takes about 30 minutes and you can resume regular activities immediately afterward.

For optimal results, most patients need biweekly treatments for two weeks. You may need follow-up treatments every four months to maintain results. As with similar treatments, staying at a healthy weight also helps you maintain your new physique.

While Evolve is new, patients are already experiencing dramatic results after undergoing the procedure. They notice significant fat reduction and skin tightening as well as more toned muscles.


Sometimes called a “scarless tummy tuck,” Renuvion uses plasma energy to contract the tissues underneath the skin. It is often a good alternative for those seeking a less invasive alternative to the traditional tummy tuck. Good candidates usually have minor skin laxity issues, often the result of weight loss or pregnancies. 

The entire procedure takes around 30 minutes. Your surgeon will make a small incision in your skin – similar to a liposuction incision — and insert a device that releases helium gas and radiofrequency energy. These combine to create plasma energy, which causes your collagen to contract.

After Renuvion, you will have to wear a compression garment for four to six weeks and may experience minor swelling or pain. However, the procedure should not prevent you from resuming normal day-to-day activities. Full results take from six to nine months.

Results from Renuvion usually last between three and four years. Natural aging causes your skin to sag, at which point you may need follow-up treatment. Weight gain or becoming pregnant can also affect results.


VASER is a form of ultrasound-assisted liposuction. It can be a good alternative for those who have had previous liposuction or want a more dramatic, sculpted outcome. VASER works particularly well on any area that liposuction works on including the thighs, knees, abdomen, love handles, and arms — and may be necessary in areas that are particularly fibrous. Fibrous areas occur either genetically or from a previous surgery.  VASER can also target the face including areas like the chin and neck.

VASER usually requires sedation or general anesthesia. During treatment, your surgeon inserts a saline solution into the targeted area followed by an ultrasound probe. This loosens and breaks down fatty tissues, which your surgeon then removes through a suction cannula.

Your body may be bruised or swollen after treatment and you’ll need to wear compression garments for the next four to six weeks. You should see full results in about three to six months, once the swelling goes down.

Results can be permanent, but any changes in your body – due to pregnancy, weight gain, or aging – can diminish results over time.

Fat Grafting

Fat grafting refers to a broad range of procedures that remove unwanted fat from one part of the body and use it to sculpt and fill out other areas like the breast, buttocks, and various muscles. For example, you may remove unwanted fat from the abdomen and use it to enhance the breasts.

Fat grafting is performed with either local anesthesia and sedation or general anesthesia. During the procedure, your surgeon removes fat via liposuction. The fat is then purified and injected into the treatment areas. The procedure time can vary greatly depending on the number of areas treated.

Recovery of the grafted site is usually very tolerable. The areas where fat was harvested from recover as standard liposuction does. There will be some bruising and swelling, but this should subside within a week or two on its own. You should be able to resume daily activities within two to three days, but may need to refrain from some forms of exercise for two to three weeks. Talk to your surgeon about the precise timeline for your recovery.

Fat grafting results can permanently redistribute fat in your body, but your body can always change due to age, weight gain or loss, or pregnancy after the procedure.

Body Sculpting Procedures: The Bottom Line

There have been multiple innovations in body sculpting in recent years. These advancements have made cosmetic procedures easier than ever before to undergo. With lower risk and less recovery, more and more patients feel comfortable undergoing body contouring procedures.

Ready to get started? Leif Rogers is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you’re considering body sculpting, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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