Summary: Sometimes we all need a little extra help with getting the physique we desire. Life can get busy and working out may not always be an option, but is non-surgical body contouring an option?

Comedian Jim Gaffigan does a bit about going to the gym and having a trainer ask him to describe his workout goals.

“My workout goal,” he says, “is to not work out.”

Ah, wouldn’t that be lovely. Wouldn’t most of us choose to live in a world in which you can maintain a slim, healthy body without the grind of exercising? Add not having to worry about what you eat, and it’s pretty much nirvana.

My disdain for exercise spurred me to research what I thought was “the easy way out,” also known as plastic surgery. It turns out that any good liposuction surgeon will tell you the procedure isn’t for weight loss. Rather, you’re supposed to be at a healthy weight and then use liposuction to remove fat from stubborn “trouble spots” that you just can’t seem to tone, no matter how much you diet and exercise.

So I guess I still have to put some work in, but I was comforted to find in my research that there is a whole new world of non-surgical body contouring these days — not just liposuction surgery. Phrases such as “fat dissolving” and “skin tightening” seem to be the biggest thing in aesthetic enhancement right now. Non-invasive body contouring technologies are considered by many plastic surgeons to be the single most exciting development in the past decade.

A recent article in People magazine, reporting on a study conducted by the online plastic surgery forum RealSelf, says these technologies are fueling a surging interest in cosmetic procedures.

“If hating your love handles is nothing new,” the article says, “why are so many more women considering cosmetic procedures? Consumer attitudes may be changing thanks to advancements in technology and the introduction of non-surgical procedures that are less invasive and cheaper than traditional plastic surgery.”

No surgery, no downtime, no scars. But do they work?

Two of the most popular non-invasive body contouring options, CoolSculpting® and Zerona®, have been getting mostly positive reviews. CoolSculpting kills fat cells with low temperatures, and Zerona uses laser energy. CoolSculpting just earned notice earlier this year when New Beauty magazine named it the “Best Fat-Reducing Treatment.”

Dr. Daryl K. Hoffman, a plastic surgeon who offers both Zerona and CoolSculpting at his San Jose, CA-area practice, answered a question on RealSelf back in 2010 saying, “Zerona, and other non-invasive treatments, are getting more and more popular. … We will see more doctors using Zerona and other low-level lasers for this type of fat loss treatment. Right now, it is a very new field but I believe it has a huge future.” Now, 5 years later, that prediction seems to be coming true. One industry group recently said non-surgical fat reduction was up 43% from 2013 to 2014.

I like the idea that once I near my ideal weight, even if I have some trouble spots leftover, I have solutions that are less invasive (and less expensive) than surgery. I have learned, though, that liposuction generally produces more dramatic results than non-surgical body contouring techniques, which makes sense. I guess the more money and effort you put in, the more fat you get out.

The other piece of information I kept finding during my research was that regardless of the procedure used, there is one caveat all potential patients should keep in mind before having their fat frozen, zapped, or sucked out: Find a great doctor. Whether it’s surgery or not, all these procedures depend on trained, experienced providers to get good results and reduce the risk of complications. The best way to ensure you get someone who is qualified is to find a board-certified plastic surgeon.