A non-surgical tummy tuck removes small, isolated pockets of fat and tightens the skin of the abdomen without any incisions.
And it can do that with the help of ultrasound, radiofrequency, laser, magnetic resonance, and/or cryotherapy.
Many people find this treatment option more appealing than a traditional tummy tuck due to its minimal discomfort, lack of scarring, and no downtime.
However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for a non-surgical tummy tuck. Before you decide to get this treatment, there are some things you should know.
What Is A Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck?
A non-surgical tummy tuck is a procedure that breaks down fat (lipolysis) and stimulates the production of new collagen in the skin (neocollagenesis) to reshape the abdomen.
Generally, fat is removed from the body by freezing or heating it. Sometimes, the fat cells are simply punctured so they can shrink in size.
Skin tightening, on the other hand, occurs as a result of a thermal injury within the skin, causing collagen to shrink and remodel.
In any case, some kind of “injury” to the fat cells and skin takes place.
Here, it should be noted that a non-surgical tummy tuck is not for weight loss. It only helps the abdomen appear smoother and firmer.
Who Is Suitable For A Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck?
A non-surgical tummy tuck may be suitable for you if:
- You’re in good health.
- You are at or near your ideal weight.
- You have small, stubborn pockets of fat.
- You don’t have excessive loose skin.
- You have realistic expectations.
It’s important to understand that a non-surgical tummy tuck will not give you immediate results.
It can, however, be a good option for those who wish to avoid general anaesthesia or long recovery times.
How Does A Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Work?
A non-surgical tummy tuck can be done with cryolipolysis, laser, high-intensity focused electromagnetic field, ultrasound and/or radiofrequency therapy.
Let’s take a closer look at how they each work.
Fat freezing or cryolipolysis is a non-invasive fat removal and body contouring treatment.
In this technique, the target tissue is pulled into a vacuum suction cup using a handheld device. There, it is cooled to a temperature of -10°C for 30-60 minutes.
Cryolipolysis only targets the fat cells underneath the skin (subcutaneous fat), so it doesn’t harm the surrounding skin, blood vessels, nerves, and muscles.
However, during the treatment, cold injury to the fat cells triggers their death. The result is an inflammatory response, which causes fat cells to die.
You’ll start seeing the results around 3 weeks after the treatment. However, you’ll have to wait for around 6 months to see the final results.
Other than that, you might also achieve some skin tightening around 4 months after the treatment. It’s not exactly understood why that happens.
However, according to a study published in the Dermatologic Surgery, it may occur due to a “cold-based thermal insult to the skin.” That can trigger the production of new collagen within the skin, which, in turn, tightens it.
Meanwhile, you might have to undergo one or more sessions of this treatment, each around 2 months apart.
Low-Level Laser Therapy
Laser therapy works a little differently to get rid of fat from the body.
Rather than destroying the fat cells, it creates tiny holes in their membranes that allow lipids to leak out.
For this, using a multiprobe device, wavelengths of 635nm are emitted on the target area for around 30 minutes.
It won’t give you instant results either, as the body will take some time to get rid of the expelled fat. And you might need about 6-8 treatment sessions, 2-3 per week, to see any results.
Some device manufacturers claim you can see a difference right after the first session. However, you might have to wait for a couple of weeks for that.
And in addition to that, low-level laser therapy will also boost the production and collagen and elastin in the skin.
High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Technology (HIFEM)
High-intensity focused electromagnetic technology works the muscles of the abdomen out to thicken and strengthen them.
Its device (EmSculpt) contracts the abdominal muscles about 20,000 times in just a 30-minute session. On their own, these contractions can help in the breakdown of fat cells, which can cause the death of more fat cells.
However, another device called EmSculpt Neo combines HIFEM with radiofrequency to get rid of even more fat cells in the target area.
Patients are usually recommended around 4 sessions, each 5-10 days apart. After that, they can get maintenance sessions every 3-6 months. Results should become visible around 3 months after your last treatment.
Now, on its own, HIFEM won’t stimulate collagen production. Even so, it could help decrease the appearance of loose skin by increasing muscle mass.
However, together with radiofrequency, it will definitely have an impact on the overall quality of your skin as well. That’s because radiofrequency will cause thermal injury.
Radiofrequency therapy uses heat to induce apoptosis (death) of fat cells.
It uses an applicator to heat the skin to around 45°C for 30 minutes. The device comes with a built-in cooling system so that the skin isn’t damaged by heat.
You might need about 4 or more sessions of this treatment, each 7 days apart. And the results will be gradual, becoming more and more noticeable after a couple of months.
Keep in mind that because radiofrequency contracts the collagen in the skin while fueling the production of even more, it will tighten your skin as well.
High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU) Therapy
Ultrasound therapy works in much the same way as radiofrequency.
In this too, an applicator delivers ultrasound waves to the fat in the target area, which is heated to around 56°C.
This heat damages the fat cells, which are later removed by the body, and it also triggers the production of new collagen within the skin.
One treatment session might be enough, but it depends on the patient. You might end up needing 2-3 sessions of this treatment, each about 3-4 weeks apart.
And, of course, with this as well, the results will take a few months to become more noticeable. Although, you might notice a difference just after the first session.
Does A Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Work?
The Australasian Journal of Dermatology published a review of non-invasive body contouring devices for fat removal, skin tightening, and muscle definition. It concluded that they could be quite effective and safe.
Many different researches also show the same.
However, you need to keep in mind that a non-surgical tummy tuck will not be as effective as its surgical counterpart.
With a surgical tummy tuck, you can get rid of more fat and tissue. Additionally, it can also help repair separated rectus abdominis muscles (diastasis recti).
However, if you only have minor aesthetic concerns, you can get satisfactory results with a non-surgical tummy tuck.
What Are The Downsides Of A Regular Tummy Tuck?
Even though you can get more dramatic results with a regular tummy tuck, the procedure has certain disadvantages compared to a non-surgical tummy tuck.
These are as follows:
Because a surgical tummy tuck requires making incisions, patients are left with visible scars. They may also look quite red at first. However, these scars aren’t permanent and they do fade with time.
Depending on the type of tummy tuck you’re getting, you may have a horizontal scar (extending from hip to hip) above the pubic area and around the belly button.
Or if there’s not a lot of skin and fat that needs removal, it’ll just be a small scar above the pubic area.
Long Recovery Process
Since a tummy tuck is an invasive surgical procedure that requires general anaesthesia, it will have a relatively long recovery time.
While the recovery time can vary depending on the type of procedure, your age, and your health, a few side effects (like swelling and numbness) can take a few months to go away.
Additionally, unlike a non-surgical tummy tuck, patients usually have to wait for a couple of weeks before resuming their normal activities.
Risks With Surgery
Like every surgical procedure, tummy tuck carries certain risks, such as:
- Skin sensation changes
- Delayed wound healing
- Seroma formation
- Wound dehiscence
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
In contrast, since a non-surgical tummy tuck isn’t invasive, the risk of adverse effects is rare.
What Are The Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Prices?
It costs about £350 in the UK to have one session of a non-surgical tummy tuck. However, since most procedures require around 2-4 sessions, the total cost can run to £1,000-£1,500.
|Cost Per Session
|High-Intensity Focused Electromagnetic Technology (+ Radiofrequency)
|High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound
Keep in mind that prices can vary depending on the size of the treatment area, your goals and expectations, and even the location of the clinic.
Surgical vs. Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck: What Are The Differences?
Here’s a summary of the differences between a surgical and non-surgical tummy tuck.
|Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck
|Surgical Tummy Tuck
|Cryotherapy, radiotherapy, magnetic resonance, lasers, and ultrasound are used to freeze or heat fat and stimulate collagen production
|Excess skin and fat are excised from the abdominal area, and muscles are repaired
|Have very small, isolated pockets of fat with slightly loose skin
|Have stubborn pockets of fat with moderate to severe skin sagging with or without diastasis recti
|Not needed (can cause some discomfort)
|2-8 (depends on the procedure and the patient)
|Pain, stinging sensation, swelling, bruising, sensitivity, tenderness, and sore muscles (varies with the procedure type)
|Pain, bruising, swelling, numbness, bleeding, scarring, itchiness, bumps, and a pulling sensation
|Around £350/session in the UK
|Around £5,000 in the UK
Around £2.500 in Turkey
What Are The Alternatives To Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck?
A surgical tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is an alternative to a non-surgical tummy tuck. It’s best for those with moderate to large pockets of fat and excess skin tissue (with or without muscle separation).
Panniculectomy is another surgery that can help you get rid of an excessively large skin flap (panniculus) along with the pockets of fat in that area.
Keep in mind that an abdominoplasty addresses both excess skin and stubborn fat deposits in the abdomen. However, surgical and non-surgical treatments can remove fat and tighten the skin separately.
Among the surgical options, liposuction is very popular in removing unwanted fatty deposits from the abdomen.
For just non-surgical fat removal, some devices use cryotherapy, laser, and ultrasound to break down and get rid of the fat.
Abdominal lifting can be achieved with a surgical tummy tuck.
But if you are looking for noninvasive skin tightening alternatives, you can consider radial pulse shockwave therapy, radiofrequency therapy, or ultrasound therapy.
How Longevita Can Transform Your Body With Their Seasoned Surgeons
If you’re unsuitable for tummy tuck’s non-surgical alternatives, our ISAPS surgeon can perform a mini or full abdominoplasty on you.
They will prepare a customised treatment plan for you based on the amount of excess tissue and fat you have and your goals and expectations.
Whether you’re interested in learning more about the surgery or its alternatives, we encourage you to reach out to us.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr Fuat Yuksel
Is the treatment painful?
A non-surgical tummy is unlikely to cause significant pain, which is why no anaesthetic is given. However, you may experience temporary pain after the treatment.
How long does a session last for?
Most non-surgical tummy tuck treatments last around 30 minutes, but they can also take as long as an hour.