The Surgeon Minute

The Rise of the Athletic Figure in Body Contouring

The Rise of the Athletic Figure in Body Contouring

Men and women alike are choosing to undergo plastic surgery procedures in order to further highlight the athletic figure they have worked hard to achieve. As a result, body contouring has seen a gradual evolution from traditional fat reduction and skin tightening to a more advanced and precise way to sculpt an attractive, athletic body.

No matter how hard you work on your body, there is probably still something you wish you could improve. Just as a rough diamond found in the wild is polished and cut to better showcase its natural beauty, today’s body contouring procedures chisel and sculpt the natural body to unveil the beautiful form beneath the surface. The health and fitness world surround the athletic figure, and plastic surgery is no different.

It All Started with the Face

We’ve all seen a facelift that was pulled too tight. In the 70’s and 80’s, pulling and lifting was the norm for a facelift. Since then, plastic surgeons have spent decades studying the aging face. As a result, they have learned to combine other techniques, such as fat grafting, to help restore the curves and contours of youth.

The same revolution is happening now with body contouring, points out board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Camp. Body contouring procedures are no longer done with the goal of pulling the body flat and tight. Instead, says Camp, “it’s all about creating transitions and indentations in the right spots, and doing it safely and appropriately.” Modern patients want to look natural and have an athletic figure, not look artificial.

Modern patients want an athletic figure.

What is Body Contouring?

Any procedure that alters the shape of the body is considered a body contouring procedure. This broad definition of body contouring includes both surgical and non-surgical procedures that eliminate or reduce excess fat and/or tighten skin on the body.

Examples of non-surgical body contouring:

Examples of Surgical Body Contouring:

The New Tummy Tuck

One of the most dramatic and popular surgical body contouring procedures is the tummy tuck. Often done as part of a mommy makeover, tummy tucks restore pre-pregnancy shape to post-pregnancy bodies. Ask anyone what the goal of a tummy tuck is, and you will more than likely get this answer: take a loose, flabby stomach and make it flat and tight. The truth is, today’s tummy tuck is evolving into much more than that.

“We’re learning how to not just make people skinnier and flatter, but also rejuvenate them in a more athletic sense,” shares Dr. Camp. “There’s something about an athletic twenty-five, twenty-six year old body, that’s very different than what was done with a traditional tummy tuck.”

Dr. Camp studies the unique form of each patient, paying special attention to where the natural transition points exist on a woman’s midsection. Rather than a flat stomach, he wants to create a visible contour beneath the rib cage where the the body goes from bony structure to softer form.

The same is true of the area around a woman’s belly button. In a beautiful, athletic stomach the area around the belly button is not perfectly flat. An athletic stomach has curves and indentations, as well as visible transitions between different groups of muscle. Instead of a flat “tube” stomach, Dr. Camp uses high definition liposuction and fat grafting techniques to create curvy athletic abdomens.

Old Tummy Tuck Technique:

  • Flat stomach
  • Abdomen pulled straight
  • Same for every patient

New Tummy Tuck Technique:

  • Create transitions & indentations
  • Add & subtract fat to create athletic shape
  • Tailored to the patient’s unique anatomy

High Definition Liposuction

Traditional liposuction procedures reduce overall fat in the area treated.  High definition liposuction, on the other hand, sometimes referred to as etching, involves the more strategic, non-uniform removal of fat in an area in order to enhance the visibility of the muscles beneath.  

While the procedure is ideal for someone who has strong muscles that are partially hidden beneath a thin layer of fat, it is not meant to be a tool to create muscle definition on an overweight person. “Patient selection is paramount,” emphasizes Camp. “We’ve all seen pictures of people that are too heavy for liposuction who get purposeful carvings, or etchings. They kind of look like a big Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. You can see transition points and rolls, but they’re artificial, and they are artificially created.”

Athletic figure with liposuction.

Creating muscle definition is not something done using a one-size-fits-all muscle grid in the operating room. Instead, Dr. Camp spends time studying each patient’s unique form and anatomy. He then plans individualized and focused treatments to best highlight their natural form and create an athletic figure.

“We’ve learned so much about what we find attractive in the female silhouette and the male silhouette,” explains Dr. Steven Camp. “Instead of doing the same operation for every type of person, we’re looking at the way they are built and where their muscle groups insert.

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