5 Alternatives to Plastic Surgery

The Blog
Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon


5 Alternatives to Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgeries have been a game-changer when it comes to addressing aesthetic imperfections and functional concerns. Teens with a misshapen nose no longer have to worry about being bullied at school because a plastic surgeon can fix the issue with rhinoplasty surgery. Women who have been through pregnancy and childbearing do not have to worry about looking unattractive because cosmetic procedures such as mommy makeovers address the issue. There is virtually no part of the body where a plastic surgeon can not work their magic to give you the appearance you desire and improve your self-image and confidence. However, it is important to acknowledge that not everyone is willing to go under the knife in order to transform their appearance. In this article, we look at 5 procedures that may serve as an alternative to plastic surgery.

1. Fat Grafting

For qualified patients, fat grafting is one of the best alternatives to traditional plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons extract excess fat from one part of your body and then use it to achieve the desired contouring in other parts of the body. Once the fat is removed from the donor site, it is processed and purified before it is strategically inserted in the target site. For instance, excess fat might be removed from the abdomen (through the process of liposuction) and used to achieve breast enlargement. The same goes for Brazilian butt lifts and numerous other procedures. One of the best advantages of this treatment is that it minimizes the scarring and improves both the donor and treatment site. This procedure typically also does not take as much recovery time as conventional surgery. More so, there is minimal scarring because tiny incisions (about 5mm) thick are used at the fat extraction sites. On the flip side, some of the fat that is injected at the target site may be reabsorbed into the body. This type of surgery needs to be performed by an artistic and highly experienced plastic surgeon in order to achieve the desired outcome.


BOTOX is one of the best alternatives to cosmetic surgery. It is also the most popular non-surgical procedure. In 2020, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) reports that there were more than 4.4 million BOTOX treatments completed in the US. Since it was approved for use in plastic surgery more than 15 years ago, BOTOX has been the preferred non-surgical treatment for addressing facial imperfections such as furrow lines, crow’s feet, and wrinkles. The treatment works by injecting a compound that freezes certain muscles in the face in order to relax the appearance of wrinkles and fold lines. A single BOTOX treatment can last up to 6 months, after which an additional session will be needed to maintain the results.

3. Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers such as Restylane and Juvéderm are very popular with patients who are looking for non-surgical alternatives to plastic surgery. These are gel-based compounds that are used to fill out deep creases and depressions in facial areas, as well as plump up the lips and cheeks. Plastic surgeons typically use a numbing agent at the treatment area before injecting the dermal filler. A single treatment can last up to 12 months, after which a follow-up session will be needed to maintain the results. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there were 3.4 million soft tissue fillers completed in 2020 alone.

4. Laser

Lasers are another excellent alternative to invasive plastic surgery. Plastic surgeons use special laser emitting devices to remove wrinkles, skin pigmentation, unwanted hair, and fine lines. Also referred to as laser skin resurfacing, patients take about two weeks to recover but have to stay out of sun exposure. The type of laser used will be determined by the location and depth of the fine lines and wrinkles. Statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons show that there were 997,245 laser skin resurfacing, 757,808 laser hair removal, and 199,945 laser tattoo removal procedures completed in 2020.

5. Coolsculpting

Stubborn weight and cellulite are common aesthetic problems among Americans. While exercise and diet might improve your general wellbeing, these may not always enhance the appearance of the skin. Liposuction is an invasive surgery that is commonly used to remove excess fat from different parts of the body (including the abdomen, upper arms, buttocks, thighs, back, and calves). While this is a safe procedure, it is quite invasive because numerous tiny incisions have to be created for fat extraction. Patients who are looking for a less invasive alternative to liposuction often choose CoolSculpting. This non-invasive treatment uses a unique machine to apply specialized cooling technology to the target area. Fat cells are frozen and crystallized before they are gradually removed by the body. This treatment can achieve a 20 – 25% reduction in fat within the treatment areas.