Tell Me Your Tales of Body Contouring Procedures
October 9, 2018 1:39 PM   Subscribe

CW: Body image stuff, plastic surgery, etc.

So, my natural body type is essentially “three to five months pregnant”, even though I’ve never hosted a fetus before. Like, I regularly get offered seats on the train because of it. This has been the case ever since I stopped being very thin in my mid 20s (I’m now 33) and is also true of the other women in my family, so I think it’s just genetic luck of the draw rather than PCOS or endometriosis or anything like that. I would really like to not look pregnant, and to be able to wear high-waisted jeans and pencil skirts and stuff without looking like a woman putting off buying maternity clothes for as long as possible. I’m not bothered about not being especially thin (I'm around a size 12) and don’t need to have a perfectly flat stomach or anything, just…preferably more so than it is now.

My question is: would a procedure like Coolsculpting or Ultrashape be able to achieve this, or am I being taken in by marketing? I don’t want to go to the expense and risk of getting surgical liposuction, and I think I’d need to lose more weight than I feel comfortable attempting to see any noticeable difference in my stomach. Has anyone tried these procedures or something similar, or can you point me towards unbiased information on their effectiveness or lack thereof?

(Also, I appreciate the intent, but I’d rather not hear about how I should either just lose weight or accept my body as is-I’m good on both body positivity resources and my current food/exercise regimen. Thanks!!)
posted by LadyNibbler to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Any chance you have fibroids? Asking because my friend always looked pregnant until she had a hysterectomy to get rid of them. She always thought it was just her body shape.
posted by fleecy socks at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

At the risk of sounding like some kind of shill, because I recommend it a lot, check out realself to get real people's reviews and photographs of their cosmetic procedures.

As far as I know, coolsculpting does legitimately have a slimming effect, however I think it's fairly minor. Like, if you look 6 months pregnant now maybe you would look 5 or 4 months pregnant and slightly firmer after a few treatments?

How's your posture? Slouching and anterior pelvic tilt can make your belly stick out pretty dramatically. Also, girdles exist for a reason- I'd go the shapewear route before the coolsculpting route on a large area, unless I had really a lot of disposable income; I think it's pretty pricey.
posted by windykites at 2:49 PM on October 9, 2018 [8 favorites]

A warning about Realself -- I went to look at undereye fillers, and now I have frequent emails about procedures for problems I didn't know existed (and in many cases, I definitely do not have.) I'm not overly sensitive to that stuff but if you are, you may want to manage your email subscriptions more carefully than I did. Like, at all, for example. But it's actually a very cool resource; I've pretty much decided that drugstore concealer will do almost as much for me as off-label Restylane, without the cost and the shooting of unapproved (for that purpose) chemicals into my eyeball area.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:09 PM on October 9, 2018

Yeah, 2nd realself for a resource.

Body contouring isn't meant to be a substitute for weight loss, it's meant to smooth out lumps/bumps. But they can only take a few pounds off that way (which could come back easily enough over a holiday). I think it would be an expensive and easily undone lark that wouldn't get you what you wanted, anyhow. It's more for people who've lost the amount of weight necessary to drop serious inches, have been stable there for a while, and want to sort of sandpaper rough edges (vs chisel them down).

As far as procedures are concerned, I think a tummy tuck would get you closer to the result you're after. (Though it's a lot more invasive, aggressive, costly, risky.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 4:55 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

So if you’re a pear-shaped person which it sounds like you are (carry weight in your midsection), even more invasive plastic surgery can’t really change that. Coolsculpting is sort of like a spot treatment for really minor excess fat. Traditional liposuction would make a more noticeable difference but a tummy tuck (excess fat removed and muscle tightened) would probably be a PS recommendation. Source: worked for a PS for 7 years.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 6:20 PM on October 9, 2018 [1 favorite]

I've not had it done but know tons of people who have. Lipo, cool sculpting etc really only work to reduce lumpy areas of fat, if that makes sense. So someone who has lipedema (fat storage disorder) or who has lost weight but still has saddle bags or a has a tummy pooch after having kids or a c-section. A lot of times that fat remains as the body doesn't "see" it and isn't breaking it down due to poor circulation or hormones or whatever reason. This is why its usually women who have lumpy bits and not men. Lipo, cool sculpting etc is AMAZING for that kind of fat.

It's not good for slimming large areas though, you can't have all your fat removed in a thin layer or you'll die as one of my friends doctors explained patiently to her several times. And obviously it can't get at visceral fat or make a difference if you have bloating from something like GI disease or weird hormonal stuff or water retention or the various other things that cause bloating. It can only remove subcutaneous fat and it's best to only, use it to remove stubborn leftover, isolated bits. One of my friends had her knees done after she was done having kids and lost 45 lbs and had a saggy pooch there. It was actually kind of amazing how much of a difference it made.

I think you might see a GI and an ob/gyn to rule out bloating as a cause of your issue. It may well be the cause! Then see a PT or dance teacher and fix any postural issues before you see a plastic surgeon. And make sure your overall body fat is within reason for a woman of your age and build. I'm not dismissing your body type but from what I've seen you'll get MASSIVELY better results if you do some upfront work. Think of it as "smoothing" not as wholesale removal and you'll have a better idea of the potential.
posted by fshgrl at 10:24 PM on October 9, 2018 [4 favorites]

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