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What Is the Difference Between Cosmetic Body Contouring and Weight-Loss Surgery?

Body Contouring

August 01, 2022 | 5 minute read

It’s no secret that plastic surgery can offer men and women stunning transformations to their appearance. Various body contouring procedures can trim, tighten, and tone the body to give you the aesthetic you desire. However, one of the greatest misconceptions about cosmetic surgery is that it can be used for weight loss. 

While many of these cosmetic procedures do remove pockets of fat from the body, the amount of fat removed is small, and removing it only helps change your appearance for the better rather than affect the number on your scale.

Young and attractive couple smiling and laughing as they hold out large pants after weight loss.

Below, you’ll find information on how body contouring can help you look the way you’ve always wanted.

If Plastic Surgery Removes Fat, Why Is It Not for Weight Loss?

When we think of losing weight, we think of losing fat.

During plastic surgery procedures, like liposuction and tummy tuck surgery, fat is physically removed from the body.

So, how is plastic surgery not a weight-loss surgery?

If you are confused by this, you are not alone. Many people incorrectly confuse plastic body contouring surgeries for weight-loss surgeries.

Weight-loss surgeries are options such as gastric sleeve surgery or gastric bypass surgery (among others). These surgical procedures physically manipulate the stomach organ, whether by reducing its size or re-routing the pathway of food through the stomach.

These procedures help control the way that food is processed through the stomach, thereby helping with weight loss and limiting further weight gain.

Body contouring surgeries (like all of your favorite plastic surgery options) do not affect the physical stomach organ. These surgeries are performed to address the current concerns present (like pockets of diet- and exercise-resistant fat, loose skin, and separated muscles).

These are most often done for purely cosmetic reasons.

What Can Cosmetic Body Contouring Achieve?

If you want to lose a large amount of weight, then you will want to look somewhere besides cosmetic surgery. You can either try the natural weight-loss approach, such as diet and exercise, or you can look into one of the weight-loss surgeries mentioned above.

After undergoing weight loss (especially extensive weight loss), many men and women are left with stubborn and remaining fat as well as loose and sagging skin that can be unsightly and embarrassing.

Body contouring procedures help correct these post-weight-loss aesthetic issues to give patients the physique they desire.

What Body Contouring Procedures Are Available?


Liposuction surgery is one of the most effective and versatile cosmetic procedures available. Liposuction can be used as a standalone procedure or in conjunction with other body contouring surgeries and is used to remove pockets of unwanted fat from the body.

This is important after undergoing major weight loss because stubborn fat remains in the body, no matter how much you exercise or how healthy you eat.

For this procedure, small incisions are made in the surgical area. A small tube called a cannula is then inserted through these incisions to loosen stubborn fat. This fat is then vacuumed out of the body through the cannula.

Tummy Tuck

Tummy tuck surgery is one of the most transformative procedures available. A tummy tuck helps to correct aesthetic concerns in the midsection (including stretch marks, sagging skin, and remaining fat deposits in the waist).

For this procedure, an incision is made just above your pubic area. This incision can stretch from hip to hip, depending on the extent of correction needed. Liposuction may be used to remove any subcutaneous fat in the area.

Then, the abdominal muscles will be tightened with internal sutures and excess skin will be surgically removed.

Lower Body Lift

Lower body lift surgery is effective for tightening muscles and removing sagging skin from various places on the lower body, including the abdomen, flanks, thighs, back, and buttocks.

For this procedure, an incision is made around the midsection. Through this incision, liposuction surgery may be used to remove any fat in the area, and then muscles and tissue are tightened.

Lastly, excess skin is surgically removed to give patients a trimmer, more contoured lower body.

Before and after image showing the results of a body lift performed in Huntsville, AL.

See more transformations in our lower body lift before and after gallery.

Breast Lift

After weight loss, women often experience heavy and sagging breasts. To correct this issue, breast lift surgery (mastopexy) can be performed.

A breast lift raises the breasts to a more youthful height. For this procedure, an incision is made in the breasts (the type of incision is dependent on the extent of sagging needing to be corrected).

Fat and breast tissue may be removed, and then remaining breast tissue is repositioned to a more aesthetically pleasing level.

Is a Body Contouring Treatment Right for Me?

Cosmetic body contouring procedures can help correct aesthetic concerns that result from extreme weight loss.

While you will inevitably lose a small amount of weight from the removal of fat and skin during body contouring procedures, it is important to understand that these surgical procedures are not designed for weight loss. However, after you lose the weight, allow body contouring procedures to give you the trimmed and toned appearance you’re looking for.

Ready to Achieve the Appearance of Your Dreams?

If you have any questions about any of the body contouring procedures offered at Wilson Plastic Surgery, or if you would like to set up a consultation, contact Dr. Wilson by calling (256) 551-2002 or by filling out our online contact form today.

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