What is Body Sculpting and How Does it Work?

Achieving your ideal body can be tough. While targeted exercise and a proper diet can do wonders for physical health, these habits aren’t always enough to shape certain areas the way you want.

If you’ve ever scrolled through Instagram and wondered how celebrities and influencers manage to look toned in even the most difficult areas (i.e. belly, thighs, and chin)—then search no further. The answer is body sculpting.

What is body sculpting and how does body sculpting work?

Body sculpting is the process of destroying fat cells with extreme temperatures, sonic vibrations, or acid injections in order to help the body flush them out of pesky areas.

Most body sculpting and/or body contouring treatments can be done through non-invasive procedures that come with little to no side effects.

If you’re interested in learning more, read on for everything you need to know about body sculpting!

How is Body Sculpting Done?

Depending on your personal preference, there are five different types of body contouring treatments to choose from. While you may get similar results with each type, these methods can look and feel vastly different. Once you understand the specifics of each procedure, you can choose your body sculpting treatments with confidence. 

The most common forms of body contouring are:

  1. Cryolipolysis
  2. Laser fat reduction
  3. Ultrasound fat reduction
  4. Deoxycholic acid injections
  5. Muscle stimulation

#1 Cryolipolysis

Cryolipolysis, commonly referred to by the brand name CoolSculpting® (an Allergan product), is the process of destroying fat cells by freezing them. The temperature at which fat freezes is low enough that it won’t cause damage to the skin, making it a great option for contouring in areas that have been resistant with dieting and exercise. 

CoolSculpting is performed via a machine that sucks up portions of your body—typically the belly, thighs, butt, or other areas with higher levels of fat. The device then cools these areas to the proper temperature, leaving the destroyed fat cells in a frozen-like state.

While CoolSculpting has been found to effectively reduce body fat in targeted areas by 20-25%1 , results are not instant. This is because it takes time for dead fat cells to be removed from the body and for significant weight loss to be noticeable. 

A healthy diet, consistent exercise, and massage are all helpful ways to maximize results and continue flushing out fat cells after your body sculpting treatment.2 Massage is particularly important in getting the frozen cells to dissolve. Think of this as squishing around the ice in a freezepop—the more you move it around the more it melts.

#2 Laser Fat Reduction

On the opposite end of the thermometer, body contouring can also be achieved through heat. Laser fat reduction, often referred to by the brand name SculpSure® (a CYNOSURE product), uses wavelengths to heat fat cells to an inhospitable temperature.

This heat is safe on skin and internal organs, while remaining hot enough (107.6 to 116 degrees Fahrenheit) to eliminate stubborn fat in the abdomen area. After 25 minutes, the cosmetic procedure is complete, and fat cells in the area should begin to break down. 

The entire process can take up to 12 weeks for your lymphatic system to fully flush out the dead fat cells3 and result in the minimizing of loose skin, so remember to be patient! 

#3 Ultrasound Fat Reduction

Ultrasound fat reduction breaks down fat cells using highly focused sonic waves which helps your body metabolize the fat and reduce unwanted fat pockets through vibrations. This form of body contouring is rubbed across your abdomen.

A key difference that makes this type of body contouring unique is its intensity—it’s the only procedure that can take up to an hour each session.

FDA approved ultrasound fat reduction treatments include UltraShape (a pulsed ultrasound technology) and Liposonix (a high intensity focused ultrasound).

#4 Deoxycholic Acid Injections

This non-invasive form of body contouring is a bit more—well—invasive than its predecessors. Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring bile in the body that helps break down fat during digestion. For body sculpting purposes, this acid can be injected into targeted areas using a syringe. 

Because this is the only form of nonsurgical body sculpting that requires an injection, the procedure will typically be done under local anesthesia. The only FDA approved brand of deoxycholic acid injections is known as Kybella® (an Allergan product), and it is currently allowed to be administered to the area under the chin, only. 

About 59% of people who undergo Kybella injections required six sessions for optimal results, which is the maximum amount of injections that can be administered under law. These sessions must be at least a month apart.4

#5 Muscle Stimulation

The final form of body sculpting involves toning the arm or abdominal muscles rather than eliminating stubborn fat within the body. 

Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) is done through the use of electromagnetic energy that essentially strains and contracts the muscles the way exercise would. These contractions cause microtears and fat consumption within the muscles, as a result of all the energy they’re using. Over time, this process can help build muscle in the same way a workout routine would—but without all the sweating.5

Brands like CoolSculpting have also moved into the muscle toning market, with their own procedure known as CoolTone® (an Allergan product). Using a deep penetration of the body’s fat layer, combined with cooling technology, CoolTone works double time at dissolving excess fat and building muscle tone.

Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Body Sculpting

The procedures listed above are all considered non-invasive forms of body sculpting. In addition to these treatments, some people choose to opt for a surgical form of body contouring. This typically involves small incisions being placed in the skin, through which excess fat is sucked out of by a machine.

Surgical body sculpting will provide more immediate results, but also come along with higher levels of pain and longer recovery times—sometimes as long as six weeks.6



How Much is Body Sculpting?

Every body sculpting session is going to come with its own unique price tag. That being said, if you want an idea of what this cosmetic procedure might run you, take a look at the average cost of each type of contouring procedure:

  • CoolSculpting – The average cost of CoolSculpting is between $2,000 and $4,000 per session.7
  • SculpSure – Receiving a laser treatment, like SculpSure, comes at a slightly lower average cost of $1,400 to $1,500 dollars.
  • Ultrasonic – At an even more affordable price, the average ultrasonic fat reduction treatment will cost around $1,300 each session. This number can vary depending on the type of machine being used and the amount of work done.
  • Kybella – The average cost of each Kybella treatment will range from $1,200 to $1,800 depending on the fees charged by your technician.
  • Muscle stimulation – Each EMS session can cost between $500 to $600, with an average of at least four sessions needed to achieve desired results.8

Does Body Sculpting Have Side Effects?

Most body sculpting procedures will have a quick recovery, often with no real downtime whatsoever. As far as side effects go, you may experience minimal discomfort following the body contouring procedure. 

Depending on the type of treatment you opt for, the way your body reacts may differ. Some of the most common side effects for each body sculpting method include:

  • Cooling treatments – Side effects of a cool treatment may include a tugging sensation at the target site, pain or stinging, and temporary redness or swelling. If these symptoms appear, they will typically be mild in nature and stop within 3-11 days.9
  • Heating treatments – Minor pain during the procedure can occur, but will usually subside once finished. In the days following a heated body contouring treatment, you may experience stiffness or bruising in the target areas. Similar to the symptoms of cold body sculpting, these should be mild and last a similar amount of time.
  • Radiofrequency treatments – Ultrasonic radiofrequency body sculpting will have similar side effects as a heated treatment due to the fact that both procedures involve elevated temperatures in the body. A hot feeling and increased sweating at the target area is normal during the body contour procedure.


In the hours following this form of body sculpting, you may feel a slight tingling sensation. In rare cases, some people may experience a “hot spot,” where the target site feels tender and painful due to inflammation. If done properly, this should not be an issue—however, if it does, you can expect tenderness to calm within a few days.

  • Injectable treatments – Because it’s more invasive than its counterparts, injectable deoxycholic procedures can come with a higher risk of side effects. Pain, swelling, bruising, and a feeling of numbness can all occur following this type of skin tightening treatment. Typically, these side effects (if mild) will subside in a week or two. Rarely, this procedure can result in more serious effects to jaw movement, but this is not a common result of a Kybella procedure.
  • Muscle stimulation – The most common side effect of EMS is involuntary twitching of the muscles in the treated area. Muscle pain and redness of the skin is also possible, but should not be intense or last an extended period of time. The side effects of a muscle stimulation procedure may feel similar to the tenderness following an intense workout.


No matter which path to body sculpting you choose, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the potential risks and side effects. Additionally, always do your research when choosing a treatment facility, and make sure you’re receiving these procedures from a trusted, certified professional. 

Speed Up Your Transformation with ALASTIN

While body contouring can provide noticeable changes on its own, it never hurts to get a little extra help. 

Our patented TransFORM Body Treatment with TriHex Technology® is formulated specifically for use after a body contouring procedure. With TriHex Technology®, this product works to help plump skin and promote collagen production. 

After receiving a sculpting treatment, your body needs time to break down the fat being targeted, and results can often take several weeks for significant weight loss to become visible. By using TransFORM Body Treatment, you can help speed up the process by supporting the removal of dead fat cells.

Taking care of the skin covering your targeted areas will also help return elasticity and potentially prevent excess sagging skin following the procedure. For better results, more collagen, and a toned figure—use ALASTIN for all your post-treatment needs!



1. “Does Fat Freezing and Non-Surgical Body Sculpting Work?” Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic, 21 Aug. 2020, health.clevelandclinic.org/does-fat-freezing-and-non-surgical-body-sculpting-work/.

2. Johnson, Emmanuel Nse. “How Can You Improve CoolSculpting Results?” Barnstable-Hyannis, MA Patch, Patch, 11 Jan. 2017, patch.com/massachusetts/barnstable-hyannis/how-can-you-improve-coolsculpting-results.

3. Wisco, Lucie. “SculpSure: How to Prepare, Procedure, and Cost - Healthline.” Healthline, 14 July 2017, www.healthline.com/health/sculpsure

4. Wisco, Lucie. “Kybella: Injectable Double Chin Reduction.” Healthline, 15 June 2018, www.healthline.com/health/kybella

5. “EMS Body Sculpting: Non-Invasive Body Contouring.” SepiSpa, 9 Apr. 2020, sepispa.com/ems-body-sculpting/.

6. “Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Body Contouring – Which Method Is Best?” Westlake Dermatology®, 10 Mar. 2020, www.westlakedermatology.com/blog/surgical-body-contouring-vs-non-surgical-body-contouring/.

7. “CoolSculpting® Cost, Results, & Info: CoolSculpting®.” CoolSculpting® Cost, Results, & Info | CoolSculpting®, www.coolsculpting.com/what-is-coolsculpting/faqs/

8. Repinski, Karyn. “CoolTone Muscle Toning & Body Contouring: RealSelf.” RealSelf.com, RealSelf, 18 Aug. 2020, www.realself.com/cooltone.

9. Healthline. CoolSculpting: Risks and Side Effects. https://www.healthline.com/health/coolsculpting-risks#who-should-avoid-coolsculpting 

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