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Body contouring is a procedure that alters the shape of the human body. It includes procedures that eliminate or reduce excess skin and fat that remains after previously obese individuals have lost a significant amount of weight, in a variety of places including the torso, upper arms, chest, and thighs.
Obesity is in epidemic proportions in the US and many parts of the world. It is defined as a condition where a person's body mass index (BMI) is 30 or greater. BMI is calculated by dividing the patient's weight in kilograms by their height in meters, squared. Normal weight individuals have a BMI that ranges from 18 to 25. Overweight people have a BMI from 26 to 30, with 30 and above people considered obese. Once the BMI reaches 35 and above, patients are considered morbidly obese. From a BMI of 30 and above a person's life span is shortened. In addition, obesity negatively affects the economic health of a society as well as other aspects of adult and child health, often for life. Childhood obesity is on the rise in Europe as well.
Nonsurgical body contouring is a rapidly growing field. Common methods used include low-level laser therapy (LLLT), cryolipolysis, radiofrequency energy, suction massage, and high-frequency focused ultrasound.
Now, doctors are able to use non-invasive technology to achieve a reduction in size of certain body areas, increased tone in lax or redundant skin and a diminished appearance of cellulite.
While considered major surgery, the outcome of body shaping can require several months to see the full effects of the procedure.
When researchers at the University of Pittsburgh enrolled 18 bariatric patients just before the subjects decided to undergo body contouring, their average age was 46, plus or minus ten years. The researchers studied the patients’ body perception, quality of life and mood at three and six months after the body contouring procedures. They found the subjects’ quality of life improved and significantly enhanced their moods which had remained stable at the six-month point. Most body lifting patients return to non-strenuous work in about two to three weeks.
Except for brachioplasty, virtually all body shaping procedures require the patient to wear a support or compression garment for two to six weeks. The garment speeds and aids in healing.
Patients can usually drive again within one to three weeks, depending on the extent of the surgery, their health and general robustness.