Expert Doctor

Body Contouring

elite image

Louis Deluca, MD

Boca Raton, FL

Body Contouring

Body contouring refers to any cosmetic procedure that alters the shape of the body by addressing areas of excess fat and/or skin. The most common areas for body contouring are the breasts, abdomen and the lower extremities. However, each of these regions requires a different technique to alter their shape and achieve optimal results. Some body contouring procedures include body lift, breast lift, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and liposuction. Body contouring can provide a more aesthetically pleasing appearance by enhancing, lifting or reducing a particular area of the body.

Am I a Good Candidate for Body Contouring?

GOOD CANDIDATES for body contouring are:

  • Patients who are unhappy with the shape of their body
  • Patients with localized areas of fat resistant to diet and exercise
  • Patients who are close to their ideal body weight
  • Patients who do not plan to become pregnant or have any significant weight fluctuations
  • Patients with good skin elasticity
  • Any patient who has already lost a significant amount of weight but requires surgery to reduce the excess skin and fat that remains

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for body contouring:

  • Patients with health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, which may increase surgical risks or impair healing
  • Patients with bleeding disorders
  • Patients who are ill at the time of surgery
  • Patients with nutritional deficiencies

How is Body Contouring Performed?

Body contouring varies from patient to patient according to their specific concerns and goals. While some patients only need one body contouring procedure, other patients may require multiple surgical procedures to address excess skin and fat. Since the body needs time to heal, multiple procedures may be performed in planned stages or, if deemed appropriate by the surgeon, can be performed in a single operation.

Depending on the procedure, body contouring may be performed under local anesthesia with sedation or general anesthesia. During the surgery, the doctor will make an incision in order to remove excess skin and tissue. The incision length and pattern depend on the type of procedure and the amount of tissue that needs to be excised. Most incisions can be made in strategic locations where they will be hidden within the natural creases of the skin or concealed by clothing. Incisions are closed with sutures, skin glue and dressed with bandages.

Types of Body Contouring

  • Body Lift – A body lift addresses sagging of the skin on the abdomen, waist, hips, outer thighs and buttocks. The incision patterns vary but they usually include a circumferential incision around the patient’s body to excise the “belt” of skin and fat.
  • Breast Lift – The surgeon may make an incision in a circular pattern around the areola, from the areola to the breast crease, horizontally along the breast crease or a combination of any of these incisions. Breast implants may be recommended to help enhance the shape and size of the breasts. This procedure may also be used to reduce the size of a stretched areola.
  • Abdominoplasty – The incision is usually made from hip to hip, and below the bikini line, to remove excess skin and fat. The tissue and surrounding muscles are tightened to provide a flatter, better-contoured abdomen. 
  • Liposuction – Small incisions are made for the insertion of a cannula which will simultaneously break down and remove fat via a suction method. With this type of body contouring, excess skin will not be removed.
  • Thigh lift – An incision is made in the groin that extends to the knee along the inseam of the thigh. An outer thigh lift may require an incision from the groin, around the hip, that follows the crease of the buttocks.
  • Fat Grafting – The surgeon will remove fat from the patient’s own body (via liposuction) and inject it into a different area such as the calves, arms, hands, hips or buttocks to plump out the treated area.

All of these contouring techniques provide a better shape and more youthful appearance. Certain body contouring procedures can be performed at the same time. A breast lift or tummy tuck can be done in conjunction with liposuction. A breast lift can also be done with an arm or thigh lift. 

What is the Cost of Body Contouring? 

The cost of body contouring depends on the type of procedure, the surgeon’s skills, type of anesthesia used and the geographic location of the procedure. Patients who elect to have general anesthesia pay a higher cost than those who have local anesthesia. The average costs of body contouring treatments are:

  • Body Lift costs between $7000-$16,000
  • Breast Lift is approximately $6000-$15,000.
  • Liposuction costs (on average) $3000-$8000 but the price can vary depending on how many areas need treatment and the amount of fat removed
  • Abdominoplasty is around $4000-$10,000 but, since this procedure is performed under general anesthesia, the cost may be greater thanks to fees charged by the anesthesiologist
  • Thigh Lift costs in the range of $7000-$13,500
  • Fat Grafting generally costs between $5000-$10,500

Recovery and Downtime

RECOVERY from body contouring depends on the type of procedure performed and whether other procedures were performed at the same time. Incisions are generally covered with surgical dressing or bandages. With some procedures, a small drainage tube may be placed under the skin at the incision sites to remove any excess fluid or blood. Pain, discomfort or swelling can be managed with pain medications, proper elevation and/or cold compresses. The surgeon will advise the patient on how to care for, and clean, the surgical sites. General DOWNTIME restrictions include getting plenty of rest, walking around the house to keep blood circulating properly and keeping the body hydrated. Patients should limit any activities which may cause additional swelling. Strenuous activity or exercise should be avoided for 6 weeks post-op or until the doctor permits. 


Results from body contouring can usually be seen immediately. However, any improvements will continue over the first few weeks as the swelling and bruising subside. It takes time for the residual swelling to dissipate, and for the body to completely heal, so patients should understand that the overall results might not be fully apparent for at least 3 months. Furthermore, it can take 12 months for a scar to settle down and fade to a more natural color. Patients having a full body lift, or multiple procedures in stages, may not see the final results for more than 2 years since the body will need adequate time to heal between procedures.

Body contouring provides long lasting results as long as the patient maintains a stable weight and healthy lifestyle. As the body continues to age, gravity and age-related issues will alter some of the results but most of the improvements should remain.    

Limitations of Body Contouring

Limitations of body contouring include:

  • Postponing the procedure until the patient has maintained a stable weight for at least 12 months before the surgery
  • The amount of fat which can be safely removed at one time with liposuction
  • Patients with nutritional deficiencies may be limited from body contouring procedures until their nutritional deficiency can be properly assessed and treated

Risks of Body Contouring

The risks involved with body contouring include:

  • An adverse reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Poor healing
  • Excess bleeding or hematoma
  • Asymmetry in the results
  • Seroma
  • Blood clots
  • Pulmonary, or fat, embolism
  • Temporary or permanent numbness
  • Altered skin quality which can lead to skin laxity issues and scar migration

Improving the Appearance of the Body

Patients interested in body contouring should choose a surgeon that specializes in various body contouring procedures and one who can provide “before and after photos” of his or her own patients. Body contouring can improve a patient’s silhouette, self-esteem and quality of life. However, prospective patients must approach the treatment with realistic expectations and a good understanding of the procedure(s) that can make a change in their overall appearance.


Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team based on an exclusive interview provided by Dr. Louis Deluca in Boca Raton, Florida.