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What is AirSculpt®? Everything You Need to Know About This Body Sculpting Treatment

What is AirSculpt®? 

AirSculpt® is an advanced, minimally invasive body sculpting technique that uses patented technology to permanently remove fat in one treatment using no needles, scalpels, or stitches.

Available exclusively at AirSculpt's 27 offices worldwide, this procedure uses an automated cannula and versatile handpiece to remove fat with unmatched finesse. 

Unlike conventional liposuction that requires large incisions cut with blades, entry points used during AirSculpt® are just two millimeters in diameter. Anywhere from the chin to the ankle can be sculpted with this approach, which leaves freckle-sized blemishes behind at worst, compared with the large scars following traditional fat removal. Despite being less invasive than traditional liposuction, this approach delivers just as dramatic results with more precision. 

Many websites claim that AirSculpt® is the same as laser liposuction, but this could not be further from the truth. AirSculpt® never uses laser energy, which can cause side effects like internal burns while damaging fall cells, decreasing their viability for a fat transfer. 

AirSculpt® is often called a 'lunchtime procedure,' given how swift the fat extraction process is and how short it takes to recover fully. You always remain fully awake, minimizing the risks of more invasive approaches that require general anesthesia. As double-board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Andrea McNab explains in the video above, many patients see immediate results that continue to improve up to the final six-month mark. 

Regardless of the extent of fat removed, you'll return to your daily life within 24 to 48 hours, thanks to the gentle way their cannula plucks fat cells.

Whereas noninvasive fat removal cannot remove large quantities of fat at once, everything with AirSculpt® is one-and-done. You achieve instantly noticeable changes that improve over the next few months after treatment. 

In addition to permanent fat removal, AirSculpt® offers all-natural fat transfers to the breasts, buttocks, hips, and hands. They also provide skin tightening and cellulite removal options to round out their list of body contouring solutions. Finally, patients who experienced sub-par results from another treatment, like botched liposuction or uneven fat transfer, can have their results seamlessly revised with one of the Corrective AirSculpt® procedures. 

AirSculpt® Background: Where it Stands In the History of Fat Removal and Liposuction 

To understand the history of AirSculpt® and where it stands in the evolution of fat removal techniques, it is important to first look at the history of liposuction

A History of Liposuction and Cosmetic Fat Removal

Liposuction has been around since the early 1900s, but it was in the 1970s that modern liposuction techniques were developed. The first liposuction technique involved manually scraping fat from the body using a blunt cannula. However, this method was dangerous and often resulted in excessive blood loss, infections, and uneven results.

Over the years, new liposuction techniques that were less invasive and safer than traditional methods were introduced. These modern fat removal approaches, which include laser lipo, tumescent lipo, and power-assisted lipo, have surged in popularity in recent years. Still, while these techniques have improved safety and results, they require general anesthesia and can have significant downtime.

The AirSculpt® Innovation

AirSculpt® was developed and patented in 2012 by Dr. Aaron Rollins, a renowned plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. After witnessing firsthand how abrasive and painful traditional liposuction could be, Dr. Rollins was inspired to design a new type of fat removal that would be less invasive and have a faster recovery time. He spent years researching and creating the technology and techniques that would become AirSculpt®.

As a surgeon and a sculptor in his free time, Dr. Rollins aimed to create a technique that reduced side effects and gave surgeons enhanced finesse and artistic ability during the body contouring process. AirSculpt® uses automated technology that selectively removes fat cell-by-cell, reducing trauma to treated areas while allowing for superior precision at all times. Compared to traditional liposuction, which uses manual tools and considerable amounts of guessing, everything with AirSculpt® is mechanically controlled. 

AirSculpt® Expansion and Public Listing 

Since starting with a single location in Beverly Hills, AirSculpt® has rapidly expanded and has 27 body contouring offices worldwide, including two international locations in Toronto and London. Building upon this success in November 2021, Elite became the first plastic surgery organization publicly traded in the United States under the symbol "AIRS." 

Who Makes For a Good AirSculpt® Candidate?  

AirSculpt® is the procedure for you if you have unwanted, pinchable fat on any body part between the chin and ankle and are above the age of 18.  

Targeting a specific area for fat loss, or spot-reducing fat, on your own is impossible. If a nagging double chin or drooping underarm flab are your concerns, no body-part-specific exercise will help. Exercise can help grow muscle, but fat is only lost throughout the entire body during a caloric deficit. 

Even more challenging, genetics dictate which areas tend to lose fat first, so those problem areas tend to be the last to slim down during a fat-loss program. Treatments like AirSculpt® offer a lasting solution to those patients looking to fine-tune those trouble areas that do not respond to diet and exercise. 

AirSculpt® has no BMI restrictions and can even help tighten your skin during fat removal, alleviating concerns about laxity post-procedure. Those considering a fat transfer procedure must have enough harvestable fat to complete the transfer; otherwise, there are no additional restrictions. 

All AirSculpt® procedures are performed with patients remaining fully awake, which reduces risks and eligibility constraints. This advantage is often a key differentiating factor for patients over the age of 50 who are not looking to go under general anesthesia.   

AirSculpt® may not be a solution for those only looking to remove visceral fat, which is deeper down below the subcutaneous layer and surrounds the internal organs. Those with no pinchable fat, called subcutaneous fat, may still be good candidates for a skin tightening option like AirSculpt® + or cellulite removal with AirSculpt® Smooth. 

AirSculpt® fat removal is not a weight loss solution. Still, because AirSculpt® achieves dramatic fat-loss results with minimal downtime, patients often feel motivated to kick-start healthier lifestyles after their procedure to maintain their results. 

Treatment Options: What Areas and Issues Can Be Sculpted

Fat Removal From Chin to Ankle 

The most popular treatment offered at AirSculpt® is its minimally invasive fat removal procedure that provides faster recovery and better results than traditional liposuction. AirSculpt® uses patented technology for targeted fat removal and some skin tightening without general anesthesia or extensive downtime. 

This AirSculpt® treatment option is ideal if you have stubborn fat pockets that are resistant to diet and exercise. Unlike traditional liposuction, which can be painful and involve a lengthy recovery period, the procedure uses a patented cannula to remove fat from targeted areas, including the abdomen, thighs, arms, and chin. 

AirSculpt procedures are always one-and-done. While some procedures require patients to return for multiple sessions, our approach delivers dramatic, permanent changes in a single treatment. 

All-Natural Fat Transfers 

The AirSculpt® technique allows for a much more delicate fat removal process. Because fat cells are plucked in an automated manner that reduces shearing and other types of damage, they can be used for a fat graft to enhance select regions. 

Fat transfers are an excellent option to augment your buttocks, breasts, hands, hips, or other body areas without synthetic fillers or implants. Using fat as a filler results in a more natural-looking and feeling enhancement, not to mention reduced risk. Furthermore, fat transfers allow for more personalized results than implants, as fat can be injected in exact quantities. You can add more fat to your hips rather than butt cheeks or add more material to one breast to even out asymmetries, for example. 

Skin Tightening With AirSculpt® +

As we age, our skin loses elasticity, leading to sagging and wrinkles. Furthermore, when you remove large amounts of fat, sometimes the skin does not retract to fit its newly slimmed shape. To address these concerns, we introduced a skin-tightening treatment called AirSculpt® + in 2021.

AirSculpt® + uses an innovative treatment called Renuvion that instantly tightens skin and improves laxity. This advanced, minimally invasive treatment combines helium gas and radiofrequency energy to create a plasma that stimulates tissue contraction by heating connective tissue directly beneath the skin.

AirSculpt® + is specially equipped to tighten skin and restore a youthful, natural appearance without an invasive lift or tummy tuck. Any body part treated with AirSculpt® fat removal can also have its skin tightened, with everything done through the same two-millimeter-wide entry point.  

Does AirSculpt® Alone Tighten Loose Skin?

Other websites claim that AirSculpt® uses a laser to melt fat and help tighten loose skin, but this is untrue. The mechanical speed at which the AirSculpt® cannula operates generates frictional heating, tightening the treated areas' skin as the fat is permanently removed. The degree of skin tightening is sufficient for patients with minor skin laxity issues or those removing moderate amounts of fat.

Those with significant loose skin or looking to remove copious quantities of fat are likely best suited for a combined AirSculpt® and AirSculpt® + treatment. 

AirSculpt® Smooth: Real-Time Cellulite Removal 

Cellulite is a common problem for roughly 90 percent of women. This term refers to the appearance of dimpled or lumpy skin, usually on the buttocks or thighs, that forms due to women's unique subcutaneous anatomy. The fibrous cords connecting the skin with underlying tissues, called septa bands, run vertically through the subcutaneous fat layer in women. Cellulite develops when the fat deposits begin to push up against the skin, and the septa bands pull down, creating an uneven surface. 

In 2022, Elite Body Sculpture introduced a cellulite removal treatment that uses a specialized device to target and release the fibrous bands that cause cellulite, resulting in smoother and more even-looking skin. Called AirSculpt® Smooth, this option delivers effective and long-lasting cellulite reduction with one treatment. 

AirSculpt® Smooth uses an advanced cellulite removal tool known as Avéli™, which is FDA-cleared to target cellulite on the buttocks and thighs. Like AirSculpt® +, no new entry points are required beyond the minuscule entry points in any fat removal procedure. 

How Does AirSculpt® Smooth Remove Cellulite?

The Avéli™ device is a mechanical handheld tool containing a light, hook, and blade that is slid beneath the skin to unhook the septa bands. The surgeon uses the light to illuminate the skin and identify cellulite depressions from below the skin. The targeted area's septa bands are then hooked and released from below. The surgeon confirms their release in real-time, delivering smoother skin right away.

The treatment comes with the same typical downtime of one to two days and does not require any stitches. Because it is heat-free, AirSculpt® Smooth can be used on any skin type.

Starting the AirSculpt® Process: How to Book a Consultation

All AirSculpt® consultations are free, with various methods available for you to learn more and determine which treatments best suit your body goals. 

Candidates can either come to one of our 27+ locations for an in-person consultation or complete a virtual consultation from home. Even if you go the virtual route, you will still have the chance to talk or Skype with a surgeon to discuss your body contouring goals.

How Does AirSculpt® Work?

Before the procedure, you will be taken to a pre-op room, where you will change into a surgical gown and be marked up by the surgeon to highlight target areas. You will be offered optional prescription medication and laughing gas to help relax if desired before treatment.  

Once the fat removal commences, most AirSculpt® procedures follow the same steps: numbing the skin, creating an entryway, preparing the fat, and permanently removing fat. 

During an AirSculpt® fat transfer, there are added steps for creating entry points on the enhancement site and conducting the actual fat transfer, but the harvesting steps remain the same. 

With AirSculpt® + and AirSculpt® Smooth, the numbing and entry point creation steps are the same; when it comes to removing cellulite or tightening the skin, these involve their unique mechanisms, but the stitchless recovery process is once again the same. 

AirSculpt® Steps: How a Typical Fat Removal Procedure Goes 

  • Needless Skin Numbing: The surgeon numbs the skin of treatment sites with an AirPen™. This device uses pressurized air differentials to administer a topical anesthetic instead of injecting you with a needle.

  • Entry Point Creation – No Scalpels Required: The surgeon forms perfectly symmetrical two-millimeter-wide openings in the skin with a biopsy punch tool, omitting the need for cuts made with scalpels. These entry points are small enough that they heal without stitches, ultimately resembling a freckle-sized blemish at worst.

  • Local Anesthetic Applied: The surgeon then applies a local anesthetic through these entry points, numbing the treatment area and preparing the fat for removal.

  • AirSculpt® Fat Removal: Fat is removed with a proprietary cannula, vastly different from those in traditional liposuction. The device vibrates rapidly, enabling surgeons to remove fat with a delicate plucking motion, like berries off a bush. This mechanism increases surgeons' precision while reducing side effects in surrounding areas. Patients report that they feel vibrations and deep-tissue massage-like sensations during a treatment.  

Treatments can last between 30 minutes and a couple of hours, depending on the amount of fat removed and which areas are sculpted. Once the procedure has finished, you will be taken to a recovery room, where the entry points will be dressed with special bandages. 

You will also receive complimentary compression garments and customized aftercare instructions from their surgeon. Although treatments are always fully awake, we require someone else to drive you home due to the after-effects of any relaxation medications or local anesthesia. 

Downtime after all procedures should last no more than two days. You should take daily walks as soon as possible after treatment but abstain from strenuous exercise for two weeks. 

A Deeper Dive Into the Proprietary AirSculpt® Technique: How Is it Different?

The AirSculpt® technique provides superior finesse when removing or transferring fat thanks to its unique handpiece and cannula. 

The AirSculpt® handpiece moves the cannula rapidly in multiple planes, requiring less force to remove fat cells than comparable techniques. This critical detail means less trauma is experienced by the remaining tissue while reducing the recovery period.

Due to the cannula's mechanical movement, as directed by this handpiece, fat cells undergo minimal shearing, improving their viability for a fat transfer. This differs from other handpieces that cause the cannula to scrape fat away, causing tissue shearing. The cannula's versatile movement allows harder-to-remove fibrous tissue, including areas containing scar tissue from a previous procedure, to be seamlessly accessed and sculpted. Finally, the mechanical speed at which the AirSculpt® cannula operates generates frictional heating, helping provide modest tightening of the treated areas' skin as the fat is removed.  

How The Treatment Feels: Is AirSculpt Painful? 

Each patient's body and pain tolerance is different. That said, almost every person who receives AirSculpt has no issue with pain or discomfort during their procedure. 

The most uncomfortable step for the vast majority of patients is numbing the skin with the jet injector. This process will feel like a rubber band being snapped against the treated area. Once numb, the rest of the body contouring process should be seamless.

Most of our patients compare the actual fat removal sensation to an electric toothbrush vibrating within the body; some say it feels strange at times, but the pain is typically minor at worst. Feel free to browse our AirSculpt TV series to hear live interviews with hundreds of patients as they receive treatment. 

During the first few days of recovery, you can expect minor soreness comparable to a deep-tissue massage or post-workout feeling. This discomfort can be handled with over-the-counter pain medication until the surrounding tissue recovers.

After AirSculpt: What is Downtime Like, and When Do Results Appear?

Getting Back to Your Regular Routine: AirSculpt® Downtime and Recovery  

Most return to their daily routines within 48 hours after any AirSculpt® procedure with soreness comparable to an intense workout. Depending on your skin's tendencies, swelling and bruising should subside within the first few weeks post-op.

You will be provided with custom-fitting compression garments free of charge, which should be worn for at least two weeks. Daily walks are recommended as soon as possible to help with drainage and blood circulation, but strenuous exercise should be avoided for the first two weeks.   

Fat transfer patients should also avoid putting pressure on the area that was enhanced, especially when sleeping. BBL recipients will be given a cushion to use when sitting to help prevent putting pressure on their buttocks.  

AirSculpt® Recovery Pointers: 

  • You can return to your regular routines as soon as you are comfortable doing so.

  • Drainage may occur anywhere between one day and a few weeks; foam and specific instruction from the will be provided for keeping the entry points clean and preventing infection.  

  • You can shower 48 hours after AirSculpt®.  

  • Daily walks of at least 30 minutes are recommended. 

  • Ibuprofen should be enough to manage any discomfort. 

  • The compression garment and foam padding should be worn at all times for the first two weeks (three weeks for fat transfers), other than when showering at the two-day mark. 

  • Loose clothing is a good idea for the first two to three weeks. 

  • Most workouts can be resumed at two weeks. 

  • Results are noticeable right away for some but should become much more pronounced for all patients at the two-week mark as swelling subsides. Final results can be expected between three and six months after AirSculpt®. 

Results Timeline: How Quickly Does AirSculpt Work?  

Most patients notice changes on the same day of the treatment, with some requiring up to 48 hours to see a difference. These initial developments do not represent the final results, as you will continue to see improvements over the next several months. 

If you have a fat transfer, the grafted material requires about two weeks to settle in its new location. The enhancement may wane somewhat as natural fat reabsorption occurs, but this is normal and will be accounted for by overfilling the treated area.

Final AirSculpt results take three to six months to appear fully for both fat removal and transfers. This window depends on your swelling and bruising tendencies, the amount of fat removed, and the number of targeted areas. 

Removing cellulite with AirSculpt Smooth or tightening skin with AirSculpt+ provides real-time results. Final changes may take up to a month to develop as swelling and bruising diminish, but differences appear relatively quickly with these body contouring solutions. 

AirSculpt Efficacy: Does This Treatment Really Work?

As mentioned above, AirSculpt is not designed for weight loss. That said, this patented technology is unrivaled if your goal is strictly related to fat removal or transfers.  

How Much Fat Can AirSculpt Remove?

AirSculpt can remove up to five liters of fat or up to the state limit, depending on your location. If treating a smaller area like the arms or chin, nowhere close to that amount will be removed. However, targeting stubborn fat on the back, abdomen, or legs can require extensive fat removal. 

If needed, you can remove close to five liters from one treatment area, then return within the week to remove more fat from a different body part. 

How Many Sessions Are Needed With AirSculpt®?

With AirSculpt®, there are no sessions: only dramatic results in a single treatment. Because this technique directly removes fat cells instead of affecting them through the skin, patients achieve full results in one procedure. 

Are Results Permanent?

Once you reach adulthood, fat cells do not regenerate. They will expand or shrink when you gain or lose weight, but the number of fat cells remains constant. 

Approaches like AirSculpt, which physically remove cells, provide permanent fat removal results because once the fat is removed, it is gone for good. If you gain weight after AirSculpt, the treated area can still expand, but the number of cells remains lower. 

Therefore, it is essential that you maintain a stable weight through a healthy diet and exercise to keep the remaining fat cells from expanding after AirSculpt, which can lead to contour irregularities or a loss of desired proportions.

Where Can I See Examples of AirSculpt Results?  

AirSculpt Before and After Photos

If you want to browse the thousands of incredible results we have produced, check out our interactive before and after photo gallery, which allows you to filter images by several criteria, including skin tone, procedure type, and sex.  

AirSculpt Testimonials: Hear From Patients During The Procedure 

You can also browse our AirSculpt videos, which you can also find on our Instagram page. This section includes individual procedure breakdowns, press coverage, post-procedure reviews and testimonials, and live treatment footage. 

Our viral AirSculpt TV series features live interviews with patients as they receive AirSculpt in real time! Because AirSculpt never uses general anesthesia, patients remain fully alert and able to describe how they feel, discuss their body goals, and be maneuvered by their surgeon to ensure perfectly balanced results. These videos often include follow-up testimonials from patients months after their treatment and before and after shots of their final transformations! 

The testimonial below features TikTok star Audrey Peters' receiving Chin and Stomach AirSculpt+ at our New York City body contouring location. This combined fat removal and skin tightening treatment was so gentle that she seamlessly completed an interview on the operating table. Following her procedure, she came back on the show to discuss her results, recovery, and before and after photos, which are featured at the end of the clip.

AirSculpt Safety: How This Technique Reduces Risks 

AirSculpt removes unwanted fat through a freckle-sized hole cell-by-cell without the need for needles, scalpels, or stitches. Avoiding these abrasive elements dramatically lowers the chance of side effects. This treatment is also performed under local anesthesia due to its gentle technique, further reducing patient risks. 

Beyond avoiding specific elements, AirSculpt's proprietary design allows for enhanced safety protections. The AirSculpt cannula vibrates rapidly in an automated fashion that enables surgeons to pluck fat cell by cell. This detail means less trauma is experienced by the remaining fat tissue while reducing the recovery period for patients.

Although AirSculpt® risks are reduced by using local anesthesia and automated technology, they still include bruising, swelling, and the possibility of infection, as is common with any minimally invasive cosmetic procedure. We provide patients with antibiotics before their treatment and for the following two weeks to lower the chances of infection. 

Reasons why AirSculpt is safer than traditional liposuction

  • Smaller Entry Points 

  • No General Anesthesia 

  • No Needles, Scalpels, Or Stitches 

  • Delicate Fat Removal Mechanism 

Side effects and potential risks include: 

During your initial consultation, your surgeon will detail these risks and how AirSculpt mitigates them.

  • Bruising and swelling. These should start to resolve after a week but can linger for a month or longer in some patients. 

  • The possibility of infection, which is addressed with antibiotics.

  • A minimal risk of perforation from the cannula. 

AirSculpt vs. Liposuction and Other Fat Removal Methods

AirSculpt exists in the middle of the invasiveness spectrum, from nonsurgical fat removal to fully invasive traditional liposuction. We firmly believe AirSculpt represents the best of both worlds, as it delivers results as dramatic as liposuction while avoiding grueling incisions and lengthy downtime. 

This post details the pros and cons of AirSculpt, with the most significant advantage being its reduced invasiveness and heightened precision. The main drawbacks are that scarring may form, although the marks will be freckle-sized at worst, and the fact that AirSculpt is not a weight loss procedure. 

AirSculpt vs. Nonsurgical Fat Removal 

While AirSculpt physically eliminates fat, providing permanent results in the process, non-surgical fat removal does not remove fat cells from the body; it induces them to empty their contents, causing them to shrink. Therefore, with weight gain, these empty fat cells will quickly refill. Thus results can promptly reverse after a non-surgical fat removal procedure. 

Nonsurgical fat removal includes several treatments that use different energy modalities to disrupt fat from outside the skin. These techniques include freezing cold temperatures, radiofrequency and ultrasound energy, and laser heat waves. Regardless of the method used, each of these noninvasive approaches requires several sessions to deliver modest results. With AirSculpt, there are no sessions, just permanent results in a single sitting. 

AirSculpt vs. Laser Liposuction (SmartLipo) 

AirSculpt® avoids using laser energy, which can burn internal organs and affect fat's viability for a transfer. Compared with laser liposuction, AirSculpt® is a much more precise procedure thanks to its automated nature. Surgeons merely have to point the patented AirSculpt® cannula at a trouble area, and it will do the rest by seamlessly removing fat. SmartLipo uses a laser to melt fat before extracting it with the same manual methods as traditional liposuction.

AirSculpt vs. Injection Lipolysis (Kybella) 

Kybella is an injectable treatment designed to dissolve fat. Injectable techniques also require multiple sessions and tend to provide impressive, less customizable results. Kybella cannot achieve a highly accurate contour, as it dissolves any fat it comes into contact with. Moreover, even though Kybella is an injectable, swelling and discomfort are often much more severe and long-lasting than after AirSculpt or even traditional liposuction. 

AirSculpt removes fat cells without using needles, scalpels, stitches, or multiple sessions. Furthermore, patients can reduce and transfer fat in exact quantities, achieving personalized results and even balancing out pre-existing asymmetries. Compared with fat-burning injections, AirSculpt offers more customized results, delivers longer-lasting changes, can address far more areas (including fat transfers and skin tightening), and requires just one procedure.