Liposuction vs. SculpSure®: Which One Is Right for You? (Updated 2023)

Woman on couch happily showing off her stomach after fat removal

You’ve put in hard work at the gym to tone your muscles and create a body you feel confident about, but you’re still struggling to reduce stubborn pockets of fat on your abdomen, flanks, or thighs. What’s next? When it comes to body contouring procedures, liposuction and SculpSure both offer options for slimming down those frustrating spots.

As a board-certified plastic surgeon in Palo Alto, CA, I perform both surgical and nonsurgical treatments designed to help people achieve their best bodies. While both liposuction and SculpSure are effective, the right approach varies from person to person.

Which option is right for you? In this blog post, I’ll discuss both avenues to help you plan for your potential body contouring transformation.

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure to reduce body fat in various areas of the body. In addition to traditional tumescent liposuction, I use a few different methods to achieve the best results for each person. These include:

  • Smartlipo®: Uses a small, laser-tipped cannula for more precise fat removal.
  • VASER® Liposuction: Breaks apart and liquefies fat using ultrasound energy.

The surgery involves the use of either a local or general anesthetic, depending on the technique. It requires small incisions and some recovery downtime, typically a few days to a week for returning to light activity and 3 to 4 weeks for returning to exercise. Here are some of my patients’ results:

Liposuction Case 34 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Liposuction
Liposuction Case 23 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Liposuction
Liposuction Case 28 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Liposuction
Liposuction Case 40 Before & After View #1 | San Jose & Palo Alto, CA | Daryl K. Hoffman, MD
Before & After Liposuction

What Is SculpSure?

SculpSure is a nonsurgical treatment that breaks down fat using heat energy delivered through an applicator placed flat on the skin. It targets and destroys fat cells using controlled heating much in the same way that CoolSculpting® targets and destroys fat cells using controlled cooling. The treatment reduces body fat by up to 24% in treated areas, according to clinical studies.

The treatment targets a single area at a time and only takes about 25 minutes. It does not require anesthetics, incisions, or recovery time, allowing you to return to your routine right away. You can learn more about how SculpSure compares to CoolSculpting in our related blog post.

Which Treatment Is Right for Me?

Liposuction and SculpSure each offer unique benefits, so the right choice for you depends on your goals and priorities. SculpSure may be right if you’re seeking mild fat reduction without surgery. If you don’t have downtime to spare and are looking to trim a “muffin top” or “love handles” subtly, you may enjoy the results of nonsurgical SculpSure.

Liposuction may be the best option for you if you’re willing to have some downtime to experience more dramatic results. The surgery also offers the benefit of addressing multiple areas of stubborn fat at once and creating more precise contours to sculpt your figure.

Liposuction SculpSure
Treatment Areas Most areas of the body, including the face, under the chin, and on the upper arms, back, abdomen, waist, hips, and thighs Many areas of the body, including under the chin and on the abdomen, love handles, back, and thighs.
Recovery A few days to a week of downtime No downtime
Results Nearly immediate, although swelling may be present for a time 3 to 4 months for results to develop fully
Anesthesia Local or general No anesthesia

It’s important to note that neither procedure is intended for weight loss, only for contouring enhancements to accompany a healthy and active lifestyle.

To see more examples of the results liposuction can achieve, please visit our before-and-after photo gallery.

Learn More About Your Options

If you would like to learn more about liposuction or SculpSure, or if you want to schedule a virtual consultation, please contact us online or call (650) 325-1118 (Palo Alto) or (408) 371-1118 (Campbell). I look forward to hearing from you.

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