Summer is coming!  It’s Arizona, and the hot sun will be here sooner than most of us would like.  It will soon be time to shed the bulky winter clothes, dust off the bathing suits and start making all attempts to stay cool.  With the summer heat rapidly approaching, now is the perfect time to discuss body contouring.

Body contouring is essentially broken into two large categories: excess fat; and excess skin. The first category considers the presence of fat alone, while the second also takes into account excess skin.  The key point your surgeon will consider when choosing a procedure that is right for you lies in the question: if the fat is removed, will there be excess skin?  If so, then skin will also need to be removed for optimal results.

Liposuction and body sculpting, or etching, are essentially the same procedure. The variations lie in the quantity of fat to be removed, the focal nature of the area and the need for refinement. Liposuction usually refers to removing fat in a general body area.  The name “liposuction” describes the technique, as a blunt tip cannula is used to “suction” or remove the fat in a given area.  The limit is determined by how well the skin will contract without leaving loose skin.  This procedure helps with definition and achieving a balanced look and symmetry.  Body sculpting (Lipo sculpting) is also considered liposuction, but on a smaller scale. This usually refers to contouring focal areas of excess fat, sometimes also referred to as “spot reduction.”  Etching is even more refined.   It is performed by using an even smaller cannula to define muscle groups and edges of muscles (ie. enhancing definition of the abdominal muscles).  While certain areas of the body are more conducive to liposuction, an individual’s unique skin thickness, elasticity and quality must also be considered in order to achieve pleasing results.

If skin laxity is or will be an issue after fat removal, then additional procedures need to be considered to address this. Failing to do so may cause the skin to droop, wrinkle and cause irregularities, leading to suboptimal results and an unhappy patient.

To address excessive skin laxity, one of the most common procedures performed is an abdominoplasty, more commonly referred to as a “tummy-tuck.”  There are two benefits to this procedure, tightening of the rectus muscle (6 pack muscle) and removing the excess skin.  Approximately 70 % of the benefit is gained from tightening the muscles.  This produces a flat, “washboard- like” stomach and acts like an internal abdominal binder.  The other 30 % of improvement is achieved by removing the excess skin.  The results are dramatic and the scars are well hidden, located below the hip bones and easily covered by underwear and bathing suits.  Most women regain the confidence to wear two piece bathing suits once again.

To address excess skin on the arms, a brachioplasty is typically performed. Excess skin is removed through incisions hidden in the medial arm. Addressing excess skin on the thighs, two different procedures are considered.  If the skin laxity is on the medial or inner thigh, excess skin is removed through incisions hidden on the inner part of the thigh. However, if the skin laxity presents in the vertical direction as sagging around the knees, a thigh lift may be the best surgical option.  Through incisions made in the groin, the skin can be lifted upwards, similar to pulling up thigh high stockings. Similar in procedure, a lumbar, or buttock lift, may also be considered for excess skin located in the buttock or back area. A lumbar lift is often coupled with an abdominoplasty by connecting the incision lines to achieve a lifted effect in the front and the back of the body. When these two procedures are performed at the same time, it is referred to as a lower body lift.

So far, the discussion has been limited to contouring the body by removing fat and skin.  However, there is another category of body contouring that includes moving fat volumes from one area to another, where increased volume is desired. This is referred to generally as a fat transfer, but can be more specifically described based on the donor and receiving areas. The most common area for fat to be added is the buttock, the “Brazilian Butt Lift.” In this procedure fat is removed from one area of the body and placed into the buttocks, adding volume, projection and definition. Social media and Hollywood have contributed to the fat transfer’s quickly growing popularity in cosmetic surgery, and thus, will be left for further discussion.

With so many different procedures and options available in cosmetic surgery today, it is paramount that each individual’s unique ideals and desires are considered when formulating a plan. This idea requires a combination of experience coupled with artistic influence and reveals the contrast between quality and budget body contouring.

For more information contact Scottsdale Plastic Surgeons located in Mind, Body, & Soul Spa in Prescott. (928) 776-6474 or visit