Cropped view of woman walking down city street


Sometimes, we just want a do-over. And when it comes to our body, we can achieve something close with procedures that sculpt and transform shape and size.

Dr. David Caplin, a plastic surgeon with Parkcrest Plastic Surgery, says that liposuction—the tried and true workhorse of body sculpting techniques— remains one of the most popular and successful procedures. “You can perform liposuction on so many areas of the body. There are plenty of ways to do it and lots of different machines and techniques, but in the end I think if you’re talking about the greatest degree of transformation with one procedure, it’s going to be liposuction,” he says.

Liposuction has been around for decades, but the procedure is safer and more predictable than ever before, Caplin notes. The lure of permanently removing fat cells draws many people to inquire about liposuction, but Caplin and other plastic surgeons are careful in screening patients for the procedure. Individual health concerns and expectations play a large role in determining whether someone is an appropriate candidate for liposuction.

In general, liposuction is best for patients who are not significantly overweight and have only localized fat deposits. Caplin emphasizes that the procedure is not a weight loss technique and isn’t useful in cases where the patient has a great deal of fat and extra skin that needs to be dealt with.

For these individuals, a tummy tuck may be a better option because this surgery removes excess skin, as well as fat, tightening and reshaping the entire abdomen. Many women who have flabby midsections after giving birth are good candidates for this procedure.

In fact, combining a tummy tuck or liposuction with breast augmentation, referred to as a ‘mommy makeover,’ is one of the most effective overall body transformations, says Dr. Samer Cabbabe, a plastic surgeon with St. Louis Plastic Surgery Consultants. Shrinking the lower portion of the trunk while enhancing the upper portion provides “very dramatic results,” he says.

In recent years, fat grafting also has gained popularity. This procedure takes fat from one area and uses it to plump up another area. For instance, Cabbabe uses patients’ fat from the abdomen, back or buttocks to augment the breast, either as a purely cosmetic or post-cancer reconstructive technique. Small amounts of fat injected beneath the lower eyelid also can help the patient achieve a more youthful and refreshed appearance.

When looking to transform large portions of the body, choose your surgeon carefully, Cabbabe advises. “Make sure your surgeon is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. These procedures can be very dangerous. Particularly liposuction and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) are best suited to being done in major hospitals with an overnight stay, in my opinion,” he says.