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AT-A-GLANCE

AT-A-GLANCE

  • Noninvasive body contouring includes skin tightening, fat reduction, and cellulite treatment.

  • Noninvasive body-contouring treatments are associated with minimal intraoperative risk, postoperative discomfort, and recovery time, but overall effectiveness may be less than for more invasive procedures.

  • Improvement in body contouring may be maximized when noninvasive modalities are repeated or used in combination.

BACKGROUND

WHAT IS NONINVASIVE BODY CONTOURING?

In dermatology, body contouring is defined in contradistinction to more superficial skin remodeling. Change in the fine skin texture is thus not considered amenable to treatment by body-contouring methods. On the other hand, body contouring can correct change in skin elevation, shape, and drape associated with full-thickness dermal aging or injury, as well as such change secondary to alteration in the morphology or size of the subcutaneous layer.

Whether a method of body contouring is classified as noninvasive or invasive is predicated on the degree of manual or device-based macroscopic injury to the skin that use of this method entails. This can be a subtle determination. Noninvasive body contouring may be defined by exclusion as typically not requiring scalpel incision or excision, manual dissection of the skin tissue planes, or insertion of devices (eg, suction cannulas, drains, sutures) that are of sufficient size and bore to elicit scarring upon healing. In general, noninvasive procedures are associated with less postoperative discomfort and briefer recovery, requiring minimal time away from work and social activities.

MAJOR TYPES OF NONINVASIVE BODY CONTOURING

Noninvasive body contouring is a rapidly evolving field. As such, the nosology of clinical conditions requiring body contouring remains fluid and subject to change. Currently, the 3 widely recognized therapeutic subtypes of noninvasive body contouring are skin tightening, fat reduction, and cellulite treatment. As is obvious, these treatments are designed to address excess or sagging skin (skin tightening), pockets of unwanted fat (fat reduction), and dimpling of the thighs and buttocks (cellulite treatment). There may be overlap. That is, noninvasive body-contouring modalities used to target a particular condition may favorably impact other skin contour problems at the same anatomic site, albeit to a lesser extent.

PHYSICIAN AND PATIENT PREFERENCE FOR NONINVASIVE BODY CONTOURING

Physicians and patients both have reasons for preferring noninvasive body contouring to invasive contouring procedures. Patients may perceive noninvasive interventions as less “frightening,” or safer, and also less drastic or vain than surgery. Those who wish to avoid even the smallest visible scars, or to minimize postoperative downtime, also may be attracted to noninvasive options.

From a physician’s standpoint, noninvasive body contouring offers the promise of fewer complications to manage. It is also less time intensive from a provider standpoint, as in some cases much of the work is accomplished by devices that are positioned or injected over the treatment area rather than by direct physician manipulation. Finally, more patients are ...

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