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Top Non-Invasive Body Contouring Trends 2018

body contouring trends

Most of us wish to have the perfect body. The standards of perfection may vary from person to person. However, the fact remains that a person’s ideal self-image is almost always linked to whether they feel comfortable in their skin. This is one of the reasons why people opt for body contouring treatments. From liposuction to laser treatment, now there are a variety of procedures out there. In 2017, aesthetic surgical procedures increased by 11% compared to 2016.

However, not everyone likes going under the knife.

There is a high probability that patient requests for different fat elimination options will increase. We have compiled facts about FDA approved non-surgical methods. This might help you in giving your patients personalized advice about the perfect solution.

What is fat elimination and who wants it?

As per American Society of Plastic Surgeons, body contouring treatments have been on the rise. In 2017, 17.5 million minimally invasive and surgical procedures were done. Compared to 2016, this marked a 2% increase. This raises a question. What exactly is fat elimination and who is it targeted towards?

Fat reduction involves removing excess fat in order to improve the shape of your body. This can be done both through surgical procedures and via non-invasive body contouring. There is no gender or age restriction to those who wish for fat reduction surgeries. Instead, it has been found that patients of such procedures tend to be both male and female. Their age can range from 18 and under to 65+.

Non-invasive body contouring is being increasingly demanded by patients. Why? It is less risky and less painful than surgical procedures. This might be why non-surgical procedures increased by 4.2% in 2017, as per American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

What exactly is a non-invasive fat reduction? These procedures remove excess fat by melting them away. Rather than cutting into your body, non-invasive procedures work by using external methods. No incisions are made onto the skin nor are you required to undergo dieting or extensive exercising.

Why go non-invasive?

How can you convince patients to try a non-invasive procedure? It is easier to tell them about all the benefits associated with non-surgical procedures. There are various reasons to go non-invasive.

Firstly, both the procedure and the downtime of non-invasive treatments are considerably minimal. When you have a surgical procedure, it takes a long time for you to recover. Most people today are living a fast-paced and time-compressed life. At such a time, being confined to your bed for weeks is not a convenient option. Compared to this, a non-invasive treatment is quicker with faster recovery time.

Moreover, as per Smart Beauty Guide, non-invasive procedures are much better for eliminating stubborn fatty areas than exercising. Many patients don’t want to consider surgery as an option and instead look for an alternative. This benefit makes non-invasive fat reduction a much better solution than exercising or dieting, mainly because you can control the body fat you eliminate.

Additionally, it helps in avoiding all inherent risks of surgery. Whether it be complications of anesthesia or fat embolism, your patients won’t have to worry about quite a lot of risks.

Why your patients may not want to go for non-invasive?

One of the biggest flaws of opting for non-invasive treatment is the amount of time it takes for them to see and show the effects. While a surgical procedure consists of one or two surgeries, a non-invasive procedure takes multiple sessions before you can observe a difference. For individuals who wish for over-night changes in their appearance, they might find this slow process to be frustrating.

Moreover, some procedures, like the use of ultrasound, are known to lead to a temporary redness of the skin. However, it should be noted that the redness does go away in a short period of time.

Popular non-surgical procedures

As of 2017, the popular non-surgical cosmetic procedures included the following:

  • Injectables: Botulinum Toxin, Calcium Hydroxylapatite, Hyaluronic Acid, Poly-L-Latic Acid. (90.8% of injectables were requested by females).
  • Skin Rejuvenation: Chemical Peel, Dermabrasion, Full Field Ablative, Micro-Ablative Resurfacing, Microdermabrasion, Nonsurgical Skin Tightening. (6.3% of the patients were male).
  • Nonsurgical Fat Reduction (opted by 87% females and 13% males).


Non-invasive Body Contouring Trends of 2018

Here are some of the body contouring trends that have made there way into 2018.

1. SculpSure®

SculpSure by Cynosure is a technology that was all the rage in 2017. This trend has continued in 2018 as well. This laser-based procedure has been approved by the FDA and is safe to perform. The treatment works by destroying excess fat cells. This is done by the warmth of laser technology. All one needs to do is strap up to four laser applicators on the applicable area. Each of these applicators is 24-centimeters square. This means that a 96 centimeters square surface area of skin can be treated in one-go.

The duration of one session is about 25-minutes which makes the multiple sessions less time consuming than some of the other trending body contouring treatments. The product is to be used for 6-12 weeks for effective fat elimination.


Each applicator costs around $450.

FDA-Approved areas

SculpSure® can be used to treat excess fat in the abdomen, love handles, buttocks, chin, thighs, and back.

Specifics of the treatment

Sculpsure® makes use of 1060nm wavelength laser. This wavelength makes it particularly effective for adipose tissue. At the same time, it won’t be absorbed by the dermis, ensuring minimal uncontrollable effects.

The procedure works by increasing the temperature of the adipose tissue from 42 to 47-degrees. This encourages fat cell apoptosis. While the temperature of the tissue increases, the patient will not feel the warmth. This is ensured by the contact cooling technology embedded in the applicators. It also reduces the chance of skin damage.

SculpSure® is a technology that was all the rage in 2017. This trend has continued in 2018 as well. This laser-based procedure has been approved by the FDA and is safe to perform. The treatment works by destroying excess fat cells. This is done by the warmth of laser technology. All one needs to do is strap up to four laser applicators on the applicable area. Each of these applicators is 24-centimeters square. This means that a 96 centimeters square surface area of skin can be treated in one-go.

The duration of one session is about 25-minutes which makes the multiple sessions less time consuming than some of the other trending body contouring treatments. The product is to be used for 6-12 weeks for effective fat elimination.


2. Emsculpt®

EMSCULPT® by BTL is the first and only technology to use high-intensity electromagnetic energy to tone muscle and eliminate excess fat for a more sculpted figure. Studies show improvements continue for up to three months post-treatment.

Duration of the treatment is 30 minutes with minimum of 4 sessions scheduled 2-3 days apart. It’s a no-downtime, pain-free, non-surgical way to define the abs and lift the buttocks. Positive results are usually reported two to four weeks after the last session and continue to improve for several weeks following the treatments.


Since 4 sessions (approximately $750-$1500 per session) are required, it has been estimated that EMSCULPT® treatment costs around $3000-$6000 in total.

FDA-Approved areas

It’s the first FDA-cleared energy device approved to burn fat and build muscle mass. EMSCULPT® is FDA-cleared for the abdomen and buttocks.

Specifics of the treatment

EMSCULPT® uses a new energy source, HIFEM, high intensity focused electromagnetic energy. This non-surgical body contouring treatment forces muscle contractions causing muscle build and the release of free fatty acids, actually imploding fat (adipose) cells.

A single EMSCULPT® treatment is the equivalent of doing approximately 20,000 sit ups or squats. This muscle contraction leads to building of new muscle mass (increased tone and muscle definition) as well as enhanced fat metabolism through lipolysis, or destruction of fat cells. EMSCULPT® burns fat and tones muscle in the abdominal and buttocks region without pain, downtime or sweating it out at the gym.

During each 30-minute session, an applicator is placed over the abdomen, love handles or butt (2 applicators are used for buttocks to treat both cheeks simultaneously) as noninvasive HIFEM® (High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic) technology destroys fat cells and induces tiny contractions to the nearby muscles.


3. CoolSculpting®

CoolSculpting® by ZELTIQ is considered to be the best non-invasive fat eliminating procedure. Ever since its inception, it has remained as one of the go-to procedures by those wishing to avoid surgery.

FDA Approval

CoolSculpting® is an FDA approved procedure. The approved areas include:

  • Abdomen
  • Love Handles
  • Thighs
  • Double chin
  • Bra fat
  • Back
  • Underneath the buttocks

Specifics of the treatment

This technology makes use of cold temperature to eliminate excess fat cells. For it to work, a chilling device and a suction are placed on the waist or other targeted areas. The targeted fat and skin are sucked into the device. This device is made from cold plates, with two on either side. The sucked-up fat and skin stay with the cold plates for about an hour. The science behind this treatment is the same as frostbite. However, the negative effects are avoided by using a controlled environment on the excess fat.

Once the applicator is removed, the skin of the patient goes back to the normal position. However, patients might feel a numbing sensation due to the exposure to the cold temperature. This numbness may persist for weeks.


There is no fixed cost of CoolSculpting® for all. This is because the price depends on the number of targeted areas, required number of treatments, and fat elimination goal. Generally, you can expect the average price per patient to range from $2000-$4000.


The CoolSculpting® procedure is known to produce 95% results and a high satisfaction rate. It is known to reduce fat cells by 20 to 25%.


4. Vaser® Shape

VASER® Shape uses both Ultrasonic therapy and massage to yield results. The treatment is advised both alone and also when undergoing Lipo. The latter is advised because of VASER® Shape’s ability to reduce post-op swelling and pain significantly.

FDA Approval

This treatment has been approved by the FDA to be used in the following area:

  • Abdomen
  • Love handles
  • Buttocks
  • Back
  • Hips
  • Arms
  • Thighs

Specifics of treatment

The ultrasonic laser is used to warm up the targeted areas. The increased temperature helps in increasing the metabolism rate of the fats. This leads to an enhanced breakdown of the excess fats and toxins. The warmth is delivered through ultrasound diathermy. This treatment uses sound waves which generate heat in a localized area. All of this is achieved through the handpiece. The handpiece is used to offer overlapping beams of ultrasound energy.

The handpiece is moved from one place to another on the patient’s body. It helps in treating a fatty layer which is at least 5 cm below the skin’s surface. The heat produced by the handpiece causes a massaging effect. This effect is felt on connective tissue and helps in enhancing circulation of blood and redistribution of fat.


Since 5-7 sessions are required, it has been estimated that VASER® Shape costs around $2500-$3500 in total. However, the exact cost will vary depending on the number of sessions you choose, which may not necessarily be 5 sessions.


The results of VASER® Shape are temporary and hence cannot be considered to be a long-term solution. Moreover, the skin of the patient might seem a tad pink after repeated treatments.

Common Features

You might have noticed quite a few commonalities in these procedures. For starters, none of them feature any downtime. Unlike surgical procedures, there is no pain associated with any of them. No anesthesia is needed and instead, the sessions are quite comforting and relaxing. What happens to the excess fat? Well, the fat cells die. Each of these equipment options has the same effect on them. Yes, the methodology is different. Some use cold technology while other use ultrasonic rays. However, at the end of the day, all of them induce apoptotic demise of the excess fat cells. Apoptotic death is a natural phenomenon. These non-invasive procedures merely enhance this natural process.

When will the effect be visible?

The answer to this varies from one procedure to another. But, generally, it is observed that the treatments take at least 3-4 months before showing optimal effect. You might be able to detect small changes in your body shape as early as 6 weeks. A weekly picture of the patient’s journey might help in observing the subtle effects more prominently.

Key Insights

There was a time when liposuction or dieting was considered to be the only two methods of weight reduction. Now, they are thought of as two extremities of a spectrum. Non-surgical procedures like those discussed above are now becoming a popular choice. While there are a greater percentage of people opting for liposuction still, slowly awareness about non-invasive procedures is increasing.

There has been greater media attention towards these methods which is making people more aware of their options. At such a time, it is important to be well-versed on these options so that you can answer any queries your patients might have. Even though these four treatments are trending the most in 2018, other non-invasive procedures are also available and sought. These include:

  • BTL Vanquish® – a non-invasive, contactless Radiofrequency fat removal procedure that has the largest treatment area, allowing you to treat the upper and lower abdomen, and both flanks at the same time.
  • BTL Exilis Ultra™ – the first non-invasive aesthetic device that simultaneously transmits radio frequency and ultrasound energy.
  • Ultrashape® – uses a pulsed delivery of focused ultrasound energy that causes immediate fat tissue destruction, enabling noticeable and long-lasting results.
  • Liposonix® – uses high-intensity focused ultrasound to treat and eliminate stubborn fat.
  • TruSculpt® – is high-powered radiofrequency technology featuring a large, ergonomic, 40 cm2 hand piece to conveniently treat larger zones of the body.
  • Venus Freeze™ – combines Multi-Polar Radio Frequency and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields, which produce a soothing and therapeutic heat matrix over the skin.
  • i-Lipo™ – uses a low-level laser device for smoothing cellulite, laser fat reduction & laser body contouring.
  • Verjú™ – delivers a non-invasive treatment for body contouring and a treatment for the appearance of cellulite.
  • vShape Ultra – focuses thermo energy to address fat reduction and loose skin in the neck and face and address unwanted fat in the neck and chin area.
  • Strawberry Laser – treatment uses a low-level laser that stimulates the adipocyte cells, resulting in the breaking down of the stored triglycerides into free fatty acids and glycerol, releasing them via the channels in the cell membranes.

Apart from the trending procedures, make sure you are aware of these methods as well. Know whether a given patient is a good candidate for these procedures, to begin with. Your patients must be ready for a slow journey since these treatments don’t cause significant fat loss in the short term.

To reduce frustration during the process, let your patient know what to expect. Tell them that it will take time before results can be seen. Also, to ensure the longevity of the effects, a healthy lifestyle is required after the completion of the treatment.

As a physician, you can’t equip yourself with all of the required machines due to cost factors. This is why it is important to make an informed decision about the effectiveness of these machines. Researching each equipment option is always a good idea. Try to look for user-generated content rather than the company’s description to get a holistic review. Demo the product before you purchase it. Also, understand the maintenance and ongoing costs as well. Remember, equipment is more than just the initial cost, sometimes there are recurring costs to take into consideration as well. Whether or not it is worth it depends on the value you expect to derive from it versus the long-term cost.


No one can argue that non-invasive procedures are slowly gaining pace. However, as a doctor, you must be upfront with your clients about the type of results they can expect. If your patients want a result like that of liposuction, you can’t promise it to them via these procedures.

A lot of people are scared of the risk associated with surgery, so these are good options for those patients.  Also, for a lot of people, an inch can make all the difference in how clothes fit and this may be the desired result for many. You can target these patients with the mentioned procedures.

Focus on building lasting relationships. To do so, tell them what to expect and advise them about the best procedures for them. The more your patients think you care, the higher the chance of them returning. Help them in gaining body confidence. Your interest in their progress will make all the difference.

Your patients rely on you to be knowledgeable about different procedures. Research about them to help them out. Also, it will help you decide which treatments you want to invest in based on their cost and popularity among patients. Hence, understanding the body contouring trends of today is essential to have an upper hand.

If you are a physician or healthcare provider looking for more information on adding non-invasive body sculpting procedures to your practice, consider attending the IAPAM’s Aesthetic Medicine Symposium’s medical weight management program.

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