The History of Body Contouring Procedures

woman receiving body sculpting treatment on back

Body contouring procedures have become increasingly popular lately because of people’s sensitivity to weight, among a host of other body aesthetic goals. Dermatology used to address patients’ skin-related medical concerns only, but cosmetic issues have taken center stage in recent years.

A recent survey established that nearly 15 million cosmetic surgeries are performed each year in the United States alone, with body contouring procedures making up a considerable percentage of these procedures. Reportedly, body contouring procedures increased by 158%, and that was between 2012 and 2014.

Body contouring is an invaluable procedure for individuals looking to achieve specific cosmetic goals since a good diet, and proper physical exercise regimes don’t always produce desired results in getting rid of stubborn pockets of fat.

You’ll be surprised to know that cosmetic surgery has been around for decades. Sushruta, a renowned ancient Indian physician who lived between 1000-800 BC, is considered “The Father of Plastic Surgery,” owing to his noble contributions in nasal reconstruction.

What is Body Contouring?

woman who has gone through body contouring treatments

Body contouring or sculpting refers to invasive or non/minimally invasive procedures to improve the skin’s appearance or remove sagging skin, especially after a massive weight cut.

People come in different body shapes and types which typically makes the idea of the “perfect body” impractical. At some point, many of us have felt like some parts of our bodies could use remodeling to get rid of resistant fat pockets or sagging skin.

This is where body contouring comes in since you can hardly achieve these body aesthetic goals through exercise or dieting, regardless of your discipline.

Say you adopt an effective exercise regime that assists you to shade 100 pounds in a couple of weeks. What happens to the excess skin that used to cover the 100 pounds you just lost?

You guessed it right -the skin loosens and sags, making the whole idea of exercising to develop an aesthetically pleasing body pointless. Think of body contouring as a procedure that fine-tunes your body to the “perfect shape.”

Body sculpting is a rapidly evolving field of dermatology, with each advancement building on previous brilliant discoveries in scope. While plastic surgery has been around for nearly 4,000 years now, it wasn’t until the 1920s that initial successful body contouring attempts were made.

Types of Body Contouring Procedures

Body contouring can be invasive or non/minimally invasive.

  • Liposuction

Liposuction is the most popular minimally-invasive contouring procedure. It utilizes suction techniques to draw excess fats from certain parts of the body like the abdomen, arms, neck, face, thighs and, hips. Liposuction techniques produce dramatic contouring results compared to other sculpting procedures.

While it appears effortless to get rid of large amounts of fats from various body parts through liposuction, it shouldn’t be considered an option to lose weight dramatically. In fact, you can only safely lose between 1 and 10 pounds of fats through liposuction. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to lose more than 10 pounds of fat through liposuction, but that comes with increased risks of complications.

Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure designed to make strategic sculpting in concentrated areas and not necessarily a weight loss technique. It is ideal for patients who are close to achieving their weight goal and only need minor improvements. The candidate should have localized fat deposits that don’t respond to dieting and workouts.

The common liposuction procedures include laser liposuction, power-assisted liposuction, tumescent liposuction, and ultrasonic-assisted liposuction. These procedures can be used individually or in combination.

  • History of Liposuction 

The history of liposuction can be traced to the 1920s, shortly after World War One, when physicians experimented with diverse cosmetic surgery techniques to treat extensive injuries. The medical talents of the time were devoted to reconstructing the faces of their countrymen inflicted with injuries during the war.

Britain, America, Russia, France, Germany, and Austria, among several other nations that actively took part in the war, produced some of the best cosmetic surgeons as recalled in written history. In the 1920s, French physician Dr. Charles Dujarier invented the first surgical fats removal technique –a precursor of modern-day liposuction.

In 1926, Dr. Dujarier flopped in an attempt to remove excess fats from a model’s legs and knees when the patient developed gangrene that resulted in the amputation of her legs.

After a series of unsuccessful surgical fat removal techniques, there was a breakthrough in 1974 when doctors A. and G. Fischer invented the Blunt Tunneling technique. Regarded as the foundation of modern-day liposuction, the Blunt Tunneling used a combination of rotating scalpels that broke up fat and a tube inserted in the region to suck the fat.

The Blunt Tunneling was not without flaws, as patients lost a lot of blood during the procedure. There was also the risk of nerve damage, and so more effective alternatives were being researched. In 1982, Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz came up with the Illouz Method, a new technique that utilized a “blunt-tipped cannula.” The new technique led to few complications and a shorter recovery time.

Dozens of improvements have been made over the years in the field of liposuction, thanks to widely growing technological advancements. Today, liposuction is a safe, comfortable procedure that produces better results than first attempted.

  • Body Contouring Surgery 

This is an invasive technique that literally involves “cutting away” unwanted fat deposits or skin. Body contouring surgery is ideal after a massive weight loss, and the patient looks at achieving a more precise contour.

Dr. Max Thorex is credited for the first successful cosmetic surgery. The technique was performed around the 1920s and remained the benchmark for modern-day plastic surgery.

The procedure was later popularized in the 1960s by European surgeons. In its primitive stages, body contouring surgery resulted in much bleeding, massive scarring, and a longer healing time. Examples of body contouring surgery include, abdominoplasty also called tummy tuck, breast rejuvenation surgery –a surgical process aimed at restoring the breasts’ contour and shape, branchioplasty or arm lift, buttock lift, circumferential body lift, inner thigh lift, and panniculectomy, among others.

Some of these procedures, like tummy tuck and arm lifts, have been practiced for decades, while others are new developments in the field.

About The Dermatology and Laser Group

A leading, top-rated New York Dermatology provider, The Dermatology and Laser Group in NYC helps patience achieve youthful-looking, healthy skin through state-of-the-art medical and cosmetic dermatology.

Give our patient coordinator a call today at (212) 444-8204 for more details on our services and appointments.