AirSculpt Explained: Everything You Need to Know

NYC's Leading Plastic Surgeon Dr. Darren Smith Answers All Your AirSculpt and Body Contouring Questions

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How much do you know about Airsculpt and other body contouring techniques?

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AirSculpt is a marketing term for laser liposuction

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Emsculpt Neo and CoolSculpting both build muscle and destroy fat.

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You can stay awake when you have liposuction.

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BodyTite is a minimally invasive procedure designed to tighten loose skin.

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Airsculpt is less invasive than traditional liposuction.

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The average score is 51%


As a leading NYC plastic surgeon specializing in body contouring, Dr. Smith uses the latest techniques to provide customized outcomes that accentuate each patient’s natural beauty. AirSculpt is a commonly used term in this space, and this page is designed to share what it is and what it isn’t.

What is AirSculpt and How Does it Work?

AirSculpt is a marketing term for an older form of liposuction (“laser liposuction”). This term was coined by a large company called Elite Body Sculpture. Liposuction itself does not tighten loose skin. 

Three kinds of energy can be added to liposuction to tighten skin (laser, ultrasound, and radiofrequency). Laser energy is one of the older kinds of energy-based skin tightening, and is less effective than other methods in our experience. Newer, more effective techniques use ultrasound energy (called VASER) or radiofrequency energy (called BodyTite).

Here’s how AirSculpt works:

  • A numbing solution is injected into the treatment area to maximize comfort.
  • A liposuction cannula is inserted through a small incision.
  • The AirSculpt cannula (same as a regular liposuction cannula) moves back and forth, using suction to remove excess fat cells.
  • As fat is removed, the built-in laser energy heats the surrounding tissue, stimulating collagen production and skin tightening.
  • The end result is permanent elimination of stubborn fat with a goal of achieving smoother, firmer skin in the treated area.

Elite Body Sculpture advertises that AirSculpt is “better than liposuction” and claims that it is a minimally invasive procedure while liposuction is a more invasive surgery. 

In fact, AirSculpt is just traditional liposuction with the addition of laser energy, an older technology, to tighten skin. Another name for the same technology is SmartLipo. We prefer to use more modern alternatives like ultrasound energy, radiofrequency energy, or both to tighten loose skin.

Elite Body Sculpture also advertises that AirSculpt does not require general anesthesia (you are completely asleep) while traditional liposuction does. In fact, liposuction with laser (AirSculpt) or without laser can be performed with or without general anesthesia. 

IV sedation, or “twilight” anesthesia is also a very popular option for those that would like to be awake, but breathing on their own during the procedure. We are privileged to work with top board-certified anesthesiologists so we can make general anesthesia and IV sedation available. The ability to perform general anesthesia requires advanced equipment and certification beyond what is required for IV sedation. General anesthesia is not available with AirSculpt.

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What Areas Can Be Treated with AirSculpt?

AirSculpt, like all forms of liposuction, can be used to eliminate unwanted fat and tighten skin on many areas of the body, such as:

  • Abdomen
  • Flanks and love handles
  • Back and bra rolls
  • Arms
  • Inner and outer thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Chest
  • Chin and neck
  • Knees

AirSculpt is highly customizable, allowing for fat removal and sculpting customized to your goals, as with any form of liposuction. It can target small pockets of fat or larger problem areas. The number of treatment areas depends on your specific goals.

What Are the Benefits of AirSculpt?

Compared to traditional liposuction, AirSculpt is advertised to offer a number of advantages. We offer an explanation of each point here:

  • Permanently eliminates fat cells from treated areas (true of all forms of liposuction).
  • Stimulates collagen production for firmer, tighter skin (true for any liposuction with added energy like laser, ultrasound, or radiofrequency).
  • Delivers precise, customized results (true of all forms of liposuction).
  • Is minimally invasive with very small incisions (true of all forms of liposuction).
  • Is safer than traditional liposuction (false: both are generally very safe procedures and both have risks that will be discussed during your consultation).
  • Has less downtime than traditional liposuction (downtime of laser lipo like Airsculpt is equivalent to the downtime of any energy-assisted liposuction procedure) .
  • Achieves dramatic yet natural-looking results. (this depends more on the person doing the procedure than the technology that is used).

For patients seeking slimmer contours with smoother skin, AirSculpt can deliver measurable improvements. We prefer more advanced technology like VASER and BodyTite. While AirSculpt uses laser energy to further enhance the body sculpting effects of fat removal, we find ultrasound (like VASER) and radiofrequency (like BodyTite) to be more effective.

How Long is Recovery After AirSculpt?

Recovery is very similar to that after other forms of energy-assisted liposuction. Here’s what we tell our patients to expect after these procedures:

  • Immediately After: You can walk and resume normal activity right away. Mild discomfort, swelling and numbness are common initially. Wearing a compression garment helps minimize swelling.
  • 1 Week After: Your swelling will have subsided to the point that you look like you did before your procedure. Most bruising will be gone. It’s ok to resume a light workout.
  • 2-4 Weeks After: Bruising should be resolved, and a significant amount of swelling will have settled down; some numbness may persist. Most can resume a full workout.. Results become more visible as swelling goes down.
  • 6 Weeks After: Incision sites are fading. Swelling has subsided substantially and you can really start to see your results.
  • 3-6 Months After: Final results are visible as remaining swelling dissipates completely over next few months. Skin continues tightening during this time.

Proper rest and recovery helps ensure you safely achieve your goals. Dr. Smith will provide complete instructions for aftercare. While AirSculpt recovery is fairly fast we do not find that it is any more rapid than VASER or BodyTite-assisted liposuction.

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How Much Does AirSculpt Cost?

The Cost of AirSculpt can vary based on your treatment plan, and these values are estimates based on internet research, not from Elite Body Sculpture itself:

  • Abdomen: $11,000
  • Arms:  $8,000
  • Inner Thighs: $7,500
  • Chin:  $9,000

The number of areas treated also impacts overall cost. Many choose combined procedures that address several areas at once for complete contouring. After your consultation, we will give you an accurate quote based on your personalized plan.

What Is Airsculpt Laser Liposculpture?

  • AirSculpt” is a marketing term used by a specific company, Elite Body Sculpture, to describe a liposuction procedure combined with laser energy.
  • “Liposculpture” is a synonym for “liposuction.”
  • Liposuction involves removing fat from the body through small incisions.
  • Various techniques and technologies can be used for liposuction, including laser energy (referred to as “AirSculpt” or “Smart Lipo”), ultrasound energy (known as “Vaser”), and radiofrequency energy (referred to as “BodyTite”).
  • Airsculpt is essentially liposuction combined with laser energy, but it’s often marketed with claims of being performed awake and without a scalpel.
  • Instead of a scalpel, Airsculpt uses a trocar, a pointed instrument, to penetrate the skin, but this doesn’t significantly differ from the patient’s perspective.
  • Claims of Airsculpt having less bruising and a quicker recovery are not supported by the literature.

AirSculpt vs. Traditional Liposuction

AirSculpt and traditional liposuction are both body contouring treatments that eliminate fat using suction. Here are some key differences:

  • Approach: AirSculpt uses a laser to tighten skin in addition to a long, thin wand called a cannula to remove fat. Traditional liposuction is the same but does not use a laser..
  • Results: AirSculpt removes fat and tightens skin for smoother, sleeker results. Traditional lipo only removes fat without skin tightening.We prefer VASER and BodyTite for skin tightening.
  • Anesthesia: AirSculpt advertises that general anesthesia is not required for the procedure. Traditional liposuction can also be performed without general anesthesia..
  • Downtime: AirSculpt has less bruising, swelling and recovery time compared to traditional liposuction, but is comparable to other more effective forms of energy-based liposuction like VASER.
  • Cost: AirSculpt may be more expensive than regular lipo because it offers skin tightening. Pricing is generally on par with other energy-assisted liposuction techniques.

While both shed stubborn fat, AirSculpt offers skin tightening as well. We recommend other methods to tighten skin that are more effective in our experience.

Liposuction vs. Airsculpt vs. LaserLipo: What’s the Real Deal?

With so many options for body contouring now available, it can be confusing to determine the best route for your goals. As Dr. Smith explains:

“All of these things fall under the category of ‘body contouring.’ The basic premise of body contouring is removing fat cells from the body in a controlled fashion to achieve desired cosmetic changes. There are two basic categories of body contouring treatment: invasive and noninvasive.

Invasive techniques like liposuction and tummy tucks achieve the most dramatic results but do cause some scarring. Skilled plastic surgeons are able to minimize the appearance of scars. Liposuction in particular can eliminate stubborn fat with minimal scarring. It’s not ideal for severe loose skin though.

For mild to moderate skin laxity, liposuction combined with energy delivery to the skin can provide tightening. My preferred options are radiofrequency and ultrasound energy.

Noninvasive treatments like CoolSculpting and TruSculpt work by damaging fat cells so the body eliminates them. While no incisions are made, they offer less customization and dramatic improvements compared to invasive procedures.

Rather than getting overwhelmed by terminology, focus on the actual technology and consult an expert you trust. The options essentially include: noninvasive fat removal, liposuction for fat removal, liposuction plus energy for fat removal and skin tightening, and excisional procedures like tummy tucks.”

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Which is Better – AirSculpt or CoolSculpting?

CoolSculpting and AirSculpt both reduce unwanted fat, but work differently:

  • Method: CoolSculpting uses controlled cooling to freeze and kill fat cells without surgery. AirSculpt is surgical liposuction using laser energy for fat removal and skin tightening.
  • Areas Treated: AirSculpt can target larger and smaller areas of the body more precisely. CoolSculpting works best for treating smaller, pinchable areas of fat.
  • Results: AirSculpt removes more fat per treatment and tightens skin for contoured results. CoolSculpting results are typically more subtle requiring multiple treatments.
  • Side Effects: AirSculpt has temporary side effects like swelling, bruising and soreness. CoolSculpting sometimes causes numbness or discomfort that resolves gradually.
  • Sessions Required: AirSculpt can achieve the desired result in one session. CoolSculpting often requires multiple sessions spaced weeks apart for incremental fat reduction.
  • Cost: AirSculpt has a higher single cost, while CoolSculpting costs add up over multiple required sessions.

For patients that prefer a non-surgical option, CoolSculpting can reduce fat without surgery using cryolipolysis technology. However, AirSculpt is the better choice for dramatic fat reduction and skin tightening between these options. For noninvasive body contouring, we prefer EmSculpt Neo.

What About AirSculpt vs. EmSculpt Neo?

EmSculpt Neo is a non-invasive body contouring treatment that uses electromagnetic energy and radiofrequency energy to tone muscle, destroy fat, and tighten skin. Compared to AirSculpt, key differences include:

  • Method: EmSculpt Neo is non-invasive and uses high-intensity electromagnetic energy to stimulate muscle contractions while using radiofrequency energy to destroy fat and tighten skin. AirSculpt, a minimally-invasive procedure, uses surgical liposuction with laser energy to remove fat and tighten skin.
  • Results: AirSculpt eliminates fat cells and tightens skin for slimming effects. EmSculpt Neo strengthens and tones underlying muscles, tightens skin, and destroys fat. Minimally invasive treatments, as a rule, remove more fat than non-invasive treatments.
  • Areas Treated: AirSculpt can target fat on almost any area of the body. EmSculpt Neo works for toning abdominal muscles, buttocks, arms and legs.
  • Procedure: Airsculpt involves anesthesia and surgical incisions to suction fat. EmSculpt Neo is non-surgical and has no downtime.
  • Sessions Required: AirSculpt requires only 1 treatment session. EmSculpt Neo needs 4 sessions for optimal fat loss, skin tightening, and muscle toning effects.

While EmSculpt Neo can help strengthen and define muscles, tighten skin, and destroy fat, it does not remove as much excess fat as AirSculpt. For fat elimination with skin tightening, AirSculpt remains the better option.

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Why Does Airsculpt Cost More Than Traditional Lipo?

Liposuction cost varies with many factors. If Airsculpt costs more than traditional liposuction, it may be because no energy (like BodyTite or VASER) is being added to the traditional liposuction to tighten the skin.

Laser Lipo vs Liposuction

As mentioned above, laser lipo (aka Airsculpt) combines laser energy to tighten skin with liposuction which removes fat.

Laser Lipo vs Cavitation

Cavitation refers to the effect produced by ultrasound energy (mentioned above) that helps break up stubborn fatty tissue and shake fat cells free of tough connective tissue or scar. This yields a kinder, gentler liposuction procedure and recovery with less blood loss and bruising. Because of the effects of cavitation, Dr. Smith likes Vaser-assisted (ultrasound-assisted) liposuction in almost all cases. It is especially useful in male breast reduction (gynecomastia surgery) and secondary liposuction.

Smart lipo vs Airsculpt

Smart Lipo is a brand name given to laser-assisted liposuction.. 

Airsculpt is also a brand name given to laser-assisted liposuction performed by a specific company (Elite Body Sculpture) in which a trocar (sharp pole) is used instead of a scalpel to make access points in the skin and general anesthesia is not available as an option.

Laser energy can contribute to skin tightening, but radiofrequency energy is more effective for skin tightening in Dr. Smith’s extensive experience. 

Airsculpt vs Coolsculpting

Coolsculpting is a noninvasive body contouring procedure that uses cold to kill fat cells (a process called cryolipolysis). Airsculpt, on the other hand, is a type of liposuction, which is a minimally invasive procedure. 

It may take several rounds of CoolSculpting to even approach the results of liposuction. In general, Dr. Smith only recommends noninvasive body contouring procedures to people that are absolutely opposed to or cannot have any kind of surgery, including minimally invasive procedures like liposuction. We do not recommend CoolSculpting due to its significant risk profile.

Airsculpt vs BodyTite

Airsculpt uses an older form of energy (laser) for skin tightening, while BodyTite uses a modern, more advanced bipolar radiofrequency energy system to tighten skin. 

Since Airsculpt is a marketing term for laser liposuction, abdomen Airsculpt before and after pictures as well as Airsculpt before and after photos of other other areas are only available from the company that invented and markets this term. 

Here, we show a patient treated with our preferred method of skin tightening (BodyTite) and liposuction of the abdomen, as well as BodyTite, liposuction, and direct tissue excision of the chest. We have found the bipolar radiofrequency energy of BodyTite to be far superior to the older laser technology employed in Airsculpt in achieving skin tightening.

Airsculpt tummy tuck before and after.
Tummy tuck with Airsculpt before and after photo.

Here is another example of skin laxity treated with BodyTite. This woman had tried several noninvasive and minimally invasive modalities to treat loose skin on her thighs without success. We were able to achieve this result with one session of BodyTite.

Stunning before and after pictures showcasing the transformative results of Airsculpt on a woman's legs.
AirSculpt (Lipo + Laser)BodyTite (Lipo + Bipolar RF)
Removes fat and offers some skin tighteningOlder technologyAdvanced technologyLess commonly offered
Widely availableLess effective for skin tighteningExcellent for fat removal and skin tightening 
 Can only be performed awake (may be less comfortable and be restricted to smaller treatments)Can be performed awake or asleep 

AirSculpt vs Kybella

AirSculpt is a marketing name for laser-assisted liposuction. Kybella is an injectable designed to dissolve fat. Liposuction on its own removes fat but does not tighten skin. 

Three different kinds of energy can be added to liposuction to tighten skin and improve contouring results: radiofrequency, ultrasound, and laser. Of these, lasers are the oldest and in our opinion the least effective. 

While in our hands there are much more effective liposuction techniques than laser lipo (also called “AirSculpt” or “Smart Lipo”), we prefer even these to Kybella since Kybella is just an injectable and tends to have less impressive, less customizable results than any kind of liposuction. 

Kybella cannot be used to achieve precise contour, as once it is injected it dissolves any fat it comes into contact with and its area of diffusion cannot be controlled. Moreover, even though Kybella is an injectable and liposuction (whether it is called AirSculpt or another marketing name) is a minimally invasive surgical procedure, swelling and discomfort is often much more severe and long lasting after Kybella than after lipo. 

This is because Kybella is a powerful irritant (it is literally dissolving your own tissue) and generates an extremely strong inflammatory response.

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Choosing the Right Option for You

The decision between body contouring options depends on your unique goals. During an expert consultation, Dr. Smith carefully evaluates your needs and makes personalized recommendations. 

AirSculpt can provide improvements  for some patients but we generally prefer more modern and effective forms of energy-assisted liposuction..

With Dr. Smith’s artistic eye and advanced techniques, you can trust you’ll receive the ideal treatment to help you realize your aesthetic goals and boost your confidence. 

Contact our NYC practice today to schedule your body contouring consultation and learn about all the options, including Airsculpt.

FAQs About AirSculpt

What is AirSculpt?

AirSculpt® is a marketing term for laser liposuction. The term is used by Elite Body Sculpture clinics across the country to refer to laser liposuction that is performed without the option of general anesthesia. This minimally invasive technique was introduced back in 2012 by Dr. Aaron Rollins. It is not less invasive than traditional liposuction despite what marketing materials may suggest.

How is AirSculpt performed?

It involves inserting a thin cannula via a small incision. The cannula moves back and forth to suction fat away using precise, sweeping motions, just like in traditional liposuction. The built-in laser energy heats collagen fibers under the skin for tightening effects.

What areas can be treated with AirSculpt?

AirSculpt can eliminate fat and tighten skin on the belly, thighs, hips, back, arms, knees, chin, and other areas with stubborn fat or loose skin. It can treat small or large areas.

Does AirSculpt require anesthesia?

AirSculpt is what Elite Body Sculpture, a large liposuction company, calls laser liposuction. Elite Body Sculpture does not offer general anesthesia. While some laser liposuction procedures can be safely and comfortably performed in this manner, larger procedures can often be performed more comfortably and more effectively with general anesthesia.

How long is recovery after AirSculpt?

Most swelling and bruising subsides within 2-4 weeks. Final results are visible around the 3-6 month mark. You can resume normal activity right after AirSculpt but should avoid strenuous exercise initially.

Does AirSculpt produce permanent results?

Yes, the fat cells removed by AirSculpt are eliminated permanently. As long as you maintain a stable weight, your sculpted results should be long-lasting.

Is AirSculpt a safe procedure?

When performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon, AirSculpt is quite safe. It is important to ask who your surgeon is and what his or her credentials are. Potential risks include bleeding, infection, and contour abnormalities. 

How many AirSculpt treatments are required?

The goal is to achieve your desired look in one AirSculpt session. It may involve treating multiple body areas in one appointment to complete the procedure.

Does AirSculpt really work for firming loose skin?

Yes, AirSculpt’s laser energy heats the deeper tissue layers under the skin which stimulates collagen production. This results in some tightening and smoothing of the skin in treated areas, but we prefer more modern techniques like VASER and BodyTite.

Can AirSculpt fix stretch marks?

AirSculpt cannot effectively fix stretch marks. While this technology can provide some skin tightening, AirSculpt will not erase stretch marks..

Is AirSculpt better than CoolSculpting?

AirSculpt can remove more fat per session than CoolSculpting and also provides skin tightening. So it produces more dramatic contouring and firming improvements versus the gradual, moderate results from nonsurgical CoolSculpting.

What’s better – traditional liposuction vs AirSculpt?

While traditional liposuction removes fat effectively, it does not tighten skin. It can be performed with energy to achieve a skin tightening effect. AirSculpt  Is an older form of energy-assisted liposuction (laser lipo).

Can AirSculpt treat the face and neck areas?

AirSculpt is designed for treating larger areas of the body safely, and it can also be used to treat the neck. This delicate area demands great skill and experience.

What kind of results can I expect with AirSculpt?

You can expect to see smoother contours with reduced bulges as fat is removed from treated areas. As the skin tightens over 2-3 months, the results will continue improving for a sleeker, more toned and sculpted physique.

How is AirSculpt different from liposuction?

While AirSculpt utilizes liposuction to remove fat, it also goes beyond traditional liposuction by using laser energy to stimulate skin tightening from the inside out. This dual action helps create better overall body contouring.

Are there any side effects associated with AirSculpt?

Like most minimally invasive procedures, AirSculpt involves temporary side effects like swelling, bruising, numbness, discomfort and soreness as the body heals. These dissipate as you recover normally.

Do I need to follow a special diet or exercise routine after AirSculpt?

No special diet or fitness regimen is required but sticking to healthy eating habits and exercising regularly will help you maintain your sculpted shape. Physical activity can be resumed gradually over the course of a few weeks after the procedure.

What is the cost for AirSculpt body contouring?

The price can range for AirSculpt ranges between $3500 to $9000 per area depending on the size and complexity  of the body areas being treated. Many factors impact overall costs. Discounts may apply if multiple zones are addressed at once..

With his artistic eye, exacting skill and cutting-edge techniques, Dr. Smith delivers unparalleled body contouring outcomes personalized to your aesthetic objectives. Contact our NYC office today to learn more or schedule an initial consultation.

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