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What is Body Sculpting?

By: Farrah Haley, PT, MSPT, COMT, OCS

Losing weight is hard work. But sometimes, no matter how many calories you cut or extra laps you run, you can’t quite achieve the results you want. Especially in those areas where fat really likes to hang around—like your tummy, thighs and upper arms.

That’s where body sculpting can take over. It’s not a weight-loss method. Instead, it takes all your hard work one step further so you can finally enjoy the results you’ve worked so hard for. Let’s take a look at the of types of body sculpting you can choose from and how they work.

What is Body Sculpting?

When you boil it all down, body sculpting removes, destroys, melts, drains or shrinks fat cells in specific areas of the body either through surgery or various nonsurgical methods like heat or cold, sonic vibrations, or acid injections. Non-surgical options require the body to flush the fat cells out—over a period of days or months. This targeted fat reduction results in a trimmer, more sculpted shape in the treated areas.

What are the Different Types of Body Sculpting?

Surgical body sculpting options include tummy tucks, facelifts, double-chin surgery and liposuction. While surgical options usually lead to more noticeable results, they also come with more risks, longer recovery times and a much higher price.

The medical term for non-surgical body sculping is lipolysis, and as we mentioned above, eliminates or drains the fat cells in different ways. Here’s an overview of your non-surgical body sculping options.

Caliente Contouring

Caliente Contouring is a new body contouring process that uses filiform needles—the same needles used in acupuncture treatments—and a heat source to melt stubborn fat. The body excretes the targeted fat within a few days of treatment. Because Caliente Contouring treatments drain the fat cells instead of destroying them, the results are immediate and natural looking.


Cryolipolysis, or CoolSculpting® destroys fat cells with very cold temperatures. Problem areas are enclosed in a special machine and cooled to the proper temperature to freeze the fat cells without damaging the skin. Cryolipolysis results are not instant, however. It can take several months for the body to remove all the dead fat cells.

Radiofrequency Lipolysis

Radiofrequency lipolysis, or ultrasound lipolysis, targets fat cells using highly focused sonic waves. The sonic waves break down fat cells making it easier for your body to metabolize them.

Injection Lipolysis

This is the only form of nonsurgical body sculpting that involves an injection. Deoxycholic acid, which our bodies make to help break down fat during digestion, is injected into the target area with a syringe. The injections are often performed under local anesthesia.

Laser Fat Reduction

Laser lipolysis, often referred to by the brand name SculpSure®, kills stubborn fat cells with extreme heat. The temperature is hot enough to break down the fat cells without harming your skin or internal organs. Like other forms of lipolysis that break down or kill the fat cells, full results take time—weeks or months—to achieve.

How Much Does Body Sculpting Cost?

As you might expect, there can be a significant difference in cost between surgical and non-surgical body sculping procedures. Surgical options include the cost of anesthesia and can even include an overnight stay in the hospital. Prices also vary based on factors like the size or difficulty of the area being treated and the doctor’s experience level. Here’s a short list of average prices for some surgical body sculpting procedures:

  • Arm lift: $5,000-$5,500

  • Liposuction: $1,500-$11,000

  • Body lift (removes excess fat after significant weight loss): $11,700-$17,000

  • Tummy tuck: $8,000-$8,500

Non-surgical body sculpting options have lower prices per session in general. But keep in mind that you may need multiple treatments to get the results you want. Here’s a list of pricing for the non-surgical options we covered above:

  • Caliente Contouring: $99 - $360 per session, depending on the area(s) of the body treated

  • Cryolipolysis/CoolScuplting: $2,000-$4,000 per session

  • Radiofrequency Lipolysis: About $1,300 each session. The price can change depending on the type of machine being used and the amount of work done.

  • Injection Lipolysis: $1,200-$1,800. Costs vary among technicians.

  • Laser Fat Reduction/Sculptsure: $1,400=$1,500 per session

What Parts of the Body can be Sculpted?

Just take a minute to think about all the areas where it’s difficult to reduce fat with diet and exercise and you’ll have a list of all the areas that can be sculpted with one or more of the body contouring methods.


Age can take a toll on even the most trim and toned arms. Over time, fatty deposits and loose skin can lead to the dreaded “batwing.” Body contouring can remove the excess fat, but if your real problem is excess skin, fat removal could make the problem worse.

Back fat/Bra fat

Body sculpting procedures are common on the lower back, along the sides of the middle of the back, and to treat “bra bulge” under the bra line or in the area between your breast and armpit that often spills over the top or out of the side of your bra. Body sculpting reduces the appearance of fat in these areas, helping your clothes fit better and making it more comfortable to wear a bra.

Love handles

Love handles are areas of stubborn fat that can form along the sides of your belly. The name comes from the idea that they give a person who’s hugging you a place to grab. Men and women find love handles particularly hard to target with exercise. Body sculpting can help you trim these areas down, giving you the look you want.


Many of us are genetically predisposed to store fat in our tummies, making it difficult to achieve a flat belly with diet and exercise alone. Body sculpting treatments can be very effective on frustrating belly bulges.


For a long time, your only choice to get rid of a double chin was through an invasive liposuction procedure. Then, if you had drooping skin around the area, you’d also need a neck lift. Now, nonsurgical body sculpting can reduce the appearance of a double chin with less risk and more immediate results.


Body sculpting on the inner or outer thighs can help you achieve a thigh gap or get rid of saddle bags.


Fat deposits that form on your upper thigh underneath your buttocks are resistant to most exercise—even star athletes can have them. Body sculpting can treat this area, removing the bumpy appearance and creating a slimmer smoother contour, thus giving the buttocks a “lift”.

What are the Benefits of Body Sculpting?

Body sculpting’s main benefit is that it reduces fat and improves the appearance in parts of the body that don’t respond well to diet and exercise. Many people who have body contouring say they enjoy:

  • More defined, well-shaped body parts and muscles.

  • Elimination of problem areas affecting the neck and face.

  • Younger, thinner appearance.

  • Smoother skin.

  • Improved appearance of cellulite.

  • Reduced skin dimpling

Some studies have shown that fat reduction through body sculpting can lower cholesterol and inflammation as well.

It’s not surprising that benefits can also go beyond the physical. As a result of their improved appearance, many people who undergo body sculpting say they have more self-confidence and an improved libido and sex life. And studies show body sculpting can also help with depression and social anxiety.

Nonsurgical options provide the additional benefit of natural-looking results without the pain and risk of surgery or the need for a prolonged recovery. Keep in mind that in most cases, optimal results can take some time to achieve, except for Caliente Contouring treatments that offer immediate results.

What are the Risks of Body Sculpting?

As with any medical procedure, body sculpting comes with some risks. Surgical body sculpting options carry the risks that come with any surgery including:

  • Wounds that heal slowly or not at all

  • Scarring

  • Fluid accumulation

  • Asymmetry—results are not the same on both sides

  • Permanent contour deformities

With nonsurgical options, however, the risks and side effects are usually much more minimal. You could experience:

  • Hives or rash

  • Pain or soreness

  • Red skin

  • Swelling

  • Unsatisfactory results or the need for repeat sessions

What is the Recovery Time after Body Sculpting?

Recovery from surgical options can take weeks to months, depending on how much work is done and how large your incisions are. Since surgical options often involve general anesthesia, you will need someone to drive you home after your procedure, and you may need to limit your physical activity for several days or weeks after to prevent injury to the treated areas. You may choose to stay home from work until the pain and swelling subside. And you will also need to schedule follow-up office visits with your doctor to make sure your incisions are healing properly.

Nonsurgical options have much shorter recovery times. Most people go back to work and other activities immediately after the treatment.

How Long Does Body Sculpting Last?

Technically, some forms of body sculpting treatments kill or eliminate fat cells, so results can be permanent in the treated areas. However, just as it does before your treatment, your body can still create fat after body sculpting. Plus, fat in untreated areas can increase if you do not maintain a healthy diet and exercise regularly. In other words, your physique is just as sensitive after your surgery as it was before, and you have to take care of it. That’s why body sculpting is most effective when it’s used in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle.

How to Improve Body Sculpting Results

Body sculpting works by breaking up draining fat cells that then move through the lymphatic system, to the liver and is then excreted from the body. This process, called lymphatic drainage, is important to get the most out of body sculpting procedures. You can kick-start lymphatic drainage several ways:

  • Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water both before and after a body sculpting treatment will help the body flush out these fat cells and provide the best results.

  • Cardio exercise: A half-hour of exercise, such as walking or running, within six hours after your treatment will stimulate lymphatic drainage.

  • Dry Brushing: Dry brushing improves circulation and blood flow, which helps deliver more oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells. Improved blood flow leads to a healthy, youthful glow and promotes the elimination of metabolic waste.

  • Lymphatic Massage: Gentle massage that assists the lymphatic system and encourages the drainage of lymphatic fluid.

It’s also important to keep a wellness mindset overall to maintain your body sculpting results. That includes:

  • Maintaining a healthy diet: It’s everything you already know—avoid fried and processed foods and foods high in sugar and starch. Eat more vegetables, protein, whole grains and fruits.

  • Staying active. Regular exercise helps the body to heal faster, burn fat, and makes the most of your body sculpting results. If you don’t have a regular exercise regimen, now’s the time to start. If you already have a routine, you should continue it, but try to push yourself to do more if you can.

  • Getting plenty of sleep: Sleep is essential for so many of our physical and mental functions. Getting enough sleep will promote healing and give you more energy throughout the day—making it easier to make healthy food choices and stick with your exercise routine.

How to Get Started with Body Sculpting

Caliente Contouring was created to provide a non-surgical, outpatient process that provides immediate, natural looking results for people who want to get rid of stubborn fat that does not go away with diet and exercise. Caliente Contouring requires no downtime, is the most cost-effective option, and encourages healthy lifestyles and habits. In fact, we ask that clients hydrate and exercise the day of and day after their session to improve their results. We are also the only non-surgical body sculpting option that will not cause dimpling or puckering of skin afterwards.

Contact a body sculpting director in your area to learn more, or to schedule your first body sculpting session.

About Farrah Haley

Farrah Haley is the owner of Caliente Contouring, LLC, serving clients across Middle TN and Alabama. She is a Physical Therapist by trade and holds her Manual Therapy Certification as well as her Orthopedic Clinical Specialist Certification. She is certified in dry needling which led to this business. Her goal is to help men and women feel confident in their skin. Farrah resides in Murfreesboro, TN with her husband, two sons, and two fur babies.

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