Nonsurgical Fat Reduction: Types, Pros & Cons, Recovery


Nonsurgical fat reduction is also known as nonsurgical/non-invasive body contouring or minimally invasive procedures for fat reduction. It consists of a variety of nonsurgical fat reduction procedures to reduce or remove stubborn pockets of fat to contour and shape different areas of the body.

It is noticeable that nonsurgical fat reduction procedures are not intended to be weight loss solutions. If you want to do such a procedure, your weight should be close to your desired weight. More specifically, your body mass index shouldn’t be over 30.


A good candidate for nonsurgical fat reduction include:

  • Have stable weight
  • Physically healthy and have no other medical illnesses that impair the healing
  • Nonsmokers
  • Have positive and realistic expectations toward the surgery
  • Committed to living a healthy life with proper nutrion and fitness


Currently, there are four principles for most nonsurgical fat reduction treatments. They are:

  • Cryolipolysis, also named controlled cooling or CoolSculpting.

This technology uses freezing temperatures to target and destroy fat cells. In the procedure, a paneled or cupped device is placed on top of the skin in the treatment area. The device can transmit temperatures that are just low enough to freeze fat cells, essentially destroying them.

  • Laser lipolysis.

Laser fat reduction works by using controlled heating and laser energy to target fat cells. A specific laser wavelength is delivered through the skin, heating fatty tissues to the point where fat cells begin to break down.

  • Radiofrequency lipolysis.

This technology applies controlled heating and ultrasound technology to target fat cells. The ultrasound energy transmits through the skin, creating rapid pressure changes that cause the fat cells to break down while leaving surrounding tissues unharmed.

  • Injection lipolysis.

In this procedure, deoxycholic acid is injected to target fat cells. Deoxycholic acid is a naturally occurring substance in the body that helps break down fat for digestion. In injectable form, deoxycholic acid can break down fat cells on contact for isolated reduction of a fat pocket.

You can prefer one of the aforementioned options for fat reduction based on your understanding of these procedures and your surgeon’s advice.


According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2018, nonsurgical fat reduction cost $1,417 in average and the average cost for injection lipolysis is $1,054. The cost may include:

  • Prescriptions for medication
  • Surgeon’s fee
  • Surgical facility costs

Pros & Cons

For patients at or near their ideal body weight who do not need or want significant reshaping, non-surgical treatments can be a great option. Because under nonsurgical fat reduction, you can get benefits like:

  • Little to no downtime
  • No general anesthesia, incisions or scars
  • Minimal side effects for most patients
  • Lasting results as long as the patient maintains his or her weight

However, nonsurgical fat reduction does exist some limitations. For example:

  • It reduces fat only, which means minimal sculpting ability.
  • We cannot choose exactly how much fat is lost, only estimate a percentage.
  • Multiple treatments may be needed to achieve desired results.
  • It may not be suitable for patients with significant amounts of fat to lose.
  • Temporary redness, numbness and pain may occur.

Patients should understand that nonsurgical treatments for fat reduction will not significantly change a patient’s weight. And a healthy lifestyle and weight maintenance are important to maintain results.


Your surgeon will provide you with some pretreatment instructions, including:

  • Stop smoking before undergoing treatment to promote better healing
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements that can increase bleeding
  • Regardless of the type of procedure to be performed, hydration is very important before and after treatment for safe recovery

Nonsurgical fat reduction is usually performed on an outpatient basis. So, in most cases, it is not necessary for someone to drive you home after treatment and stay with you, but you should ask your surgeon to confirm that.


Nonsurgical fat reduction usually requires little, if any, recovery. For most patients, the procedure is painless and full activity can be resumed immediately. After the procedure, you will receive detailed instructions about your post-treatment care, including information about:

  • Skin care
  • Normal symptoms you will experience, such as skin redness, swelling and numbness of the treated area
  • Potential signs of complication

Generally, you can see noticeable fat reduction in the treated areas within one to two months following the procedure.

Keyword: nonsurgical fat reduction.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.