What Does Non-Invasive Really Mean?

As you read this article, you’ll learn about non-invasive treatments and what they offer:

  • “Non-invasive” means there are no incisions involved, and no tissue is removed.
  • Even if a procedure doesn’t involve incisions, you may still need recovery time.
  • Non-invasive treatments have fewer and less intense side effects than surgical options.

Whether you’re looking for a solution to pain or interested in cosmetic procedures, you’ll probably consider a non-invasive treatment first. But what does the term “non-invasive” really mean?

At Dr. Vanderloos, we offer many procedures to Shreveport, LA, residents, including non-invasive options. To help our patients understand what that entails, we’ve created this illuminating guide explaining what the term means and what you can expect from these procedures.

What Does Non-Invasive Really Mean?

“Non-invasive” has certain connotations that don’t match with the medical definition. For example, some patients assume it means treatment will be limited to the skin’s surface. However, there are non-invasive treatments that go below the skin, such as injections.

So, what is the medical definition of a non-invasive treatment? It is a non-surgical procedure, which means it is conservative, does not remove tissue, and doesn’t require incisions.

Conservative Treatment

Conservative treatment is standard when a medical issue doesn’t require emergency care. The goal is to avoid treatments that have a higher risk of complications and side effects.

No Tissue Removal

While some treatments, such as non-ablative lasers, damage cells beneath the skin, there’s no actual tissue removal. In contrast, surgery such as liposuction removes fat from the body.

No Incisions

Certain treatments deeply penetrate the skin to promote collagen production, but no incisions are made to do so. If treatments reach beyond the surface, they usually use lasers that don’t harm the epidermis. Invasive treatments, on the other hand, specifically require incisions.

Will There Be Pain?

One of the biggest questions patients have about any procedure is whether or not it will hurt. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to answer in a broad sense, as it depends on the treatment. In some cases, there’s no pain involved – the procedure may even feel relaxing. In others, you may potentially feel pain during and after treatment. However, the clinicians at our Shreveport, LA, location go above and beyond to ensure your comfort during these procedures.

Numbing Gel or Cream

Some cosmetic treatments, such as microdermabrasion, can be painful. To ensure patients’ comfort, numbing gel or cream is applied to the skin before the procedure.

Local Anesthesia

For some treatments, your doctor may apply local anesthesia. The result is numbing of the treated area but full sensation in the rest of the body. Patients remain awake when local anesthesia is administered.


While you may not feel pain during a procedure, you may experience some discomfort. For example, some body sculpting methods use heat or cold, which can be uncomfortable but shouldn’t cause you actual pain. Once the procedure is finished, the affected area will return to its normal temperature.

Is There Downtime?

Once again, this question is difficult to answer in a broad sense. Some procedures have a longer period of downtime than others, as it all depends on what the treatment does and how your body reacts.

Minimal Downtime

More intense treatments may require some downtime, but the timeframe is much shorter than after surgery. Most treatments require less than a week of recovery, during which you may be able to resume normal activities, but be advised to avoid exercise, sun exposure, and other specific elements.

No Downtime

For the mildest procedures, such as HydraFacials, you may have no downtime. You can resume normal activities right afterward.

Can I Take Pain Medications?

Yes, you can take pain medications. In fact, if the procedure is known to be painful, we may recommend that you take an over-the-counter pain medication beforehand. We’ll also go over your pain management options before you leave the clinic.

Non-Opioid Pain Relievers

Non-opioid pain relievers, such as Tylenol can be used after a non-invasive procedure. Just make sure to follow the directions, as an overdose of acetaminophen can harm your liver.


In some cases, ice is sufficient to treat side effects. The chill from ice can numb the skin, providing pain relief, and decrease swelling.

Will There Be Side Effects or Swelling?

All treatments have side effects to some extent, though their severity varies by procedure, intensity, and your body’s reaction. In some cases, they last only a few hours, while in other cases, they can last a few weeks.


Swelling is common with microdermabrasion, laser treatments, and other procedures that strategically damage cells. It’s expected and a natural part of your body’s immune response, which triggers collagen production. In most cases, swelling goes away after a few days.


Redness or pinkness is common in skin treatments and is typically short-lived. In some cases, redness can persist up to a week, though in others, it may dissipate within a few hours.

Sun Sensitivity

Many anti-aging skin treatments leave patients sensitive to UV rays. During recovery and for a period afterward, patients are usually advised to avoid sunlight and use sunscreen whenever they’re outside.

Am I a Good Candidate?

Whether or not you’re a good candidate for non-invasive treatment is between you and your physician. It depends on what you want out of the treatment and your current health.

Ultimate Convenience

Most non-invasive options only take a few hours. The majority take between 30 and 90 minutes. In fact, they’re often called “lunchtime” procedures since you can literally get a treatment on your lunch hour, then head back to work. For patients who have busy lives and don’t want to take time off for recovery, non-invasive treatments are the ultimate convenience.

Quick Results

In most cases, non-invasive treatments deliver quick results. Some procedures produce noticeable changes to skin texture in as little as a few hours, while others take several weeks to achieve full effects.

Lower Cost

Non-invasive treatments usually cost less than surgery, which can be incredibly expensive. When you get surgery, you have to pay for medical care during recovery in addition to the procedure. Non-invasive options have little to no medical costs during recovery, and procedures are much more affordable. However, keep in mind that while relatively inexpensive, non-invasive treatments can still cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

What If the Procedure Doesn’t Work?

If the non-invasive treatment doesn’t work, there are usually other options. Non-invasive procedures are generally the first choice since they have a lower risk of side effects and complications. However, if they don’t deliver results, you can consider surgical options depending on your doctor’s recommendations.

When Should I Consider Surgical Options?

Surgery comes with several risks:

  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • Injury
  • Blood clots
  • Bleeding
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Death

The degree of risk depends on the surgery, as some procedures are simpler, shorter, or more common than others. The deciding factor in whether you’re a good candidate for surgery is whether the benefits outweigh the risks.

Dr. Vanderloos is proud to help patients feel and look their best. If you’re interested in non-surgical procedures, you can make an appointment at our Shreveport, LA, clinic by calling 318-865-4333 or contacting us online.

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