Body Contouring 101: Understanding Fat Reduction vs. Weight Loss

What would you say is the number-one reason that people workout and exercise? Odds are that weight loss is high up on the list. Losing weight is the goal of many people all over the world, for both health and aesthetic reasons.


That is why everyone is looking for a shortcut to weight loss, a simple way they can loss all of their weight in a very short period of time with little work. There is a dangerous misconception that surgical procedures such as liposuction are meant for extreme weight loss. This is far from the truth. There is a real difference between “weight loss” and “fat reduction,” one that anyone thinking about getting a body contouring procedure should know.


First, what do body contouring procedures actually do? There are a fixed number of fat cells in your body. They are just part of who you are. When you gain weight, you aren’t actually producing additional fat cells. The fat cells that you already have are simply getting larger. When you lose weight, they get smaller.


With body contouring procedures, many of these fat cells in your body are simply removed or destroyed. Once they are gone, they can never regenerate or be replaced. The fat cells that remain in your body can still get larger and smaller, depending on your weight. By removing fat cells in certain areas of the body, like stubborn bulges of fat that are difficult to get rid of with only exercise or dieting, we can essentially “sculpt” your body. Although you will look thinner, this is not because you lost weight. It is because you lost fat cells.


Liposuction, and other non-surgical body contouring procedures, are not meant for extreme weight loss. There are only so many fat cells that can safely be removed from your body at one time. Although you will see some amount of weight loss with body contouring (as we are removing the fat cells), it is designed to help shape areas of the body. This means that the results of any body contouring technique are greatly improved if the patient is close to their target weight. Two of the most popular body contouring procedures today are liposuction and CoolSculpting.


Liposuction has been a plastic surgery staple since the 1980s and is still one of the most sought-out procedures today. With it, an incision is made in the body and selected fat cells are removed with a small tube called a cannula. Although liposuction does result in permanent fat reduction after just one treatment, it also carries a few downsides. Invasive surgery comes with some health risks, although lipo has been proven to be very safe. There can also be a lengthy recovery period, usually up to six weeks, and it can be quite expensive.


CoolSculpting is a relatively recent non-invasive cosmetic procedure, only approved by the FDA in America in 2010. It is quickly becoming one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world due to its effectiveness and convenience.


Fat cells can be very susceptible to cold energy. By freezing fat cells through a process called cryolypolysis, you can destroy them while leaving the surrounding tissue healthy and undamaged. After the fat cells have been damaged, the body will reabsorb them over the course of a few weeks, leaving you with permanent fat reduction. Although it can sometimes take multiple treatments to achieve noticeable results, its non-invasive nature, lack of downtime, and relatively affordable price have made it a very popular option for those looking to shape their body.


As you can see, there is more to body contouring procedures than just simple weight loss. Remember, just because the fat cells have been removed or destroyed doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to gain weight elsewhere. Your fat cells can still expand and get bigger if you don’t live a healthy lifestyle.


Body contouring results in an aesthetic difference, not a health one. If you want to maintain your newly sculpted body, you need to keep healthy with exercise and proper nutrition. But if you want to get rid of those stubborn areas of fat, there is no better solution than asking your doctor about body contouring!