Body contouring surgery is designed to improve body shape. Many areas of the body may be improved by this family of diverse surgical techniques. Although there are some ways to improve body contour with minimal scarring (such as liposuction), the category of body contouring surgery refers to operations which remove extra skin and fatty tissue, and reshape the body into a more aesthetic contour; stated another way, body contouring surgery involves trading scars for a much better appearance. Common areas of the body improved with body contouring surgery include the face and neck, breasts, abdomen, upper arms, thighs, and buttocks.
Although some patients think of having plastic surgery as “cheating,” body contouring surgery actually compliments diet and exercise. After pregnancy, or massive weight loss, or just bad genes taking their toll, areas of extra skin or persistent, abnormal fatty tissue deposits (“lipodystrophy”) can stick around. “Just a few more sit-ups” won’t cause these problems to go away, but surgery can!
The presence of extra skin in an area of concern means that body contouring surgery will be necessary to solve the problem. Although there are many minimally invasive procedures that promise skin tightening (and rejuvenation and pigment correction and youthful energy), the effects are usually modest at best, and removal of extra skin cannot be accomplished through very short incisions or noninvasive procedures. The good news is that body contouring operations have very high rates of satisfaction, because scars are often able to be hidden in an inconspicuous way and usually heal into fine line, flat, barely noticeable scars over time (this process of scars “maturing” takes about a year to complete).
The improvement that can be obtained through body contouring surgery is unlike that which can be obtained through other nonsurgical or minimally invasive means. Here is a short list of some of the more popular body contouring operations:
- Mastopexy – Body contouring of the breasts often involves restoring shape that has been lost after weight loss or pregnancy with or without breast-feeding – this operation is referred to as “mastopexy.”
- Abdominoplasty – A common body contouring operation of the abdomen is a tummy tuck, or “abdominoplasty.” This procedure addresses several problems of the trunk at once by virtue of removal of extra skin and fatty tissue as well as improvement of waistline and core strength by restoring the normal relationship of the rectus abdominis, or “six-pack” muscles– all using an incision that is well-hidden with clothing.
- Brachioplasty and Thighplasty – Extra skin and fatty tissue of the arms and thighs, which is easily visible under clothing, can be removed (“brachioplasty” and “thighplasty”).
- Facelift and Necklift – Another very common form of body contouring surgery is a facelift, which involves removal of extra skin from the face and neck as well as support of deeper tissue layers, reversing the aging process up to 10 to 15 years with certain techniques!
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