What is Liposuction Surgery?
Liposuction surgery removes excess deposits of fat to sculpt an improved shape to a patient’s body. While liposuction is best known as a fat removal procedure, it is also one of the best procedures to help a patient refine his or her shape. In fact, cosmetic surgeons often use liposuction to refine the results of other procedures, as no other technique allows for such detailed improvements in body contour.
How to Choose a Qualified Cosmetic Surgeon
You’ll see many doctors advertising liposuction as part of their practice; however, just because liposuction is readily available does not mean that just anyone can perform it well. You need to vet potential doctors carefully to find a cosmetic surgeon who can perform liposuction safely and achieve the results you desire. Pay attention to 3 key factors when choosing a cosmetic surgeon for your liposuction procedure:
- Skill & Experience: make sure your cosmetic surgeon regularly performs liposuction for patients in the areas you want to have treated. Ask how many procedures he or she has done, and ask to see pictures of prior patients.
- Board Certification in Cosmetic Surgery: all ABCS board certified cosmetic surgeons have had specific training performing liposuction as part of their American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery certified cosmetic surgery fellowship. Also, by choosing a board certified cosmetic surgeon, you can take comfort in knowing your procedure will be performed in an accredited surgery center.
- Aesthetic Style: with liposuction, your cosmetic surgeon is your sculptor. You’ll want to choose someone whose aesthetic sense aligns with your desired look. When viewing before & afters, look for patients whose “before” body looks similar to yours and who also had liposuction in the area(s) you desire.
Is Liposuction Right for Me?
Both men and women undergo liposuction every year to achieve a variety of different goals. Some patients want to look better in a swimsuit, while others want to find jeans that fit more comfortably. For men, liposuction can often successfully treat gynecomastia. Cosmetic surgeons will often use liposuction to enhance the results of other procedures.
If one or more of the following apply to you, liposuction is an option to consider:
- I have excess fat deposits on my hips, belly, thighs, neck or chest that won’t respond to diet or exercise. Liposuction is excellent for reducing fatty bulges and sculpting a beautifully natural contour to the body.
- I feel like certain areas are out of proportion with the rest of my figure. Reducing excess fat on one area of the body can bring it into better balance with your natural features.
- I have good skin elasticity – sagging skin is not a problem for me. For optimal results, the skin should have good enough tone to contract to the body’s new contours.
- I am at or near my desired body weight. Liposuction is best for reducing localized fat deposits, and the most satisfied patients are typically happy with their overall weight before surgery.
However, it’s important to have realistic expectations about what liposuction can achieve. If any of the following apply to you, then liposuction may only offer limited success in helping you achieve your goals. Your cosmetic surgeon can recommend the options best suited to your needs.
- I have loose, sagging skin that I want to address. Since liposuction is designed specifically to target fatty tissue, it will not significantly improve the appearance of loose skin. Other body contouring procedures, such as a tummy tuck or body lift, may be better options for you.
- I want to lose a significant amount of weight. Liposuction can improve your shape, which can help you look thinner and more fit, but it’s not a weight loss method. While some overweight patients can benefit from the reshaping effects, the most satisfied patients tend to be happy with their weight prior to surgery.
What is the difference between types of liposuction?
There are many different liposuction techniques available to surgeons today. The main difference between each type of liposuction is the technology they use to assist the fat removal process. The manufacturers of each type claim to have unique advantages, and cosmetic surgeons will sometimes prefer a certain technique depending on the nature of the procedure. Just remember that the skill and experience of the cosmetic surgeon performing liposuction will make the biggest difference in your results.
Below are some of the types of liposuction more commonly used by cosmetic surgeons today:
- Tumescent Liposuction: with this technique, a cosmetic surgeon will inject an anesthetic “tumescent” solution into the treatment area to minimize bleeding and discomfort during the procedure. Depending on the patient, tumescent liposuction can often be performed with local anesthesia.
- Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction: this technique utilizes ultrasound energy to help break up the fatty tissue and loosen it from the body, allowing for easier removal of larger amounts of fat with a faster surgery. Variations include VASER Liposelection.
- Laser Assisted Liposuction: known under brand names like SmartLipo and Slimlipo, these techniques use laser energy to help dislodge fat cells.
- Suction Assisted Liposuction: this technique uses a vacuum like device to help remove the fat. Power Assisted Liposuction is a similar technique that involves a tool that enhances the motion of the cannula used to remove the fat.
How Liposuction Works
Liposuction is an outpatient procedure and can be safely performed using local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or local anesthesia, depending on the nature of the procedure. Your cosmetic surgeon will recommend the anesthesia method that is most appropriate for your needs.
Your cosmetic surgeon will make one or more small incisions near the treatment area. A cannula, or thin tube, is inserted through these incisions to loosen excess fat beneath the skin. Then, the fat is suctioned out. The entire procedure can take under an hour or up to 3 hours or longer, depending on the number of areas treated.
Life After Liposuction
Today’s advanced liposuction techniques are designed to minimize swelling, trauma and discomfort, and when the procedure is performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, recovery from liposuction can be remarkably quick. Many patients return to work just a few days after their procedures, depending on the physical requirements of their jobs and the extent of their procedures. While your cosmetic surgeon can prescribe pain medication, most patients find over the counter options more than enough to manage any post-operative soreness.
Your cosmetic surgeon may give you a compression garment to wear for a few weeks following surgery. This helps to minimize swelling and encourage optimal skin contraction. With proper care, scars should fade significantly over the months following surgery; in many cases, scars are barely visible after a year or so.
Results can last permanently with proper care
Liposuction removes fat cells from your body, and these fat cells will not grow back. However, it is important to maintain a stable weight to ensure that your new look remains optimal. If you gain a significant amount of weight in the future, your overall appearance is likely to change as your body stores excess fat in other locations.
When performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, liposuction is a safe procedure and an excellent way to improve the shape of your body. The best way to decide if liposuction is right for you is to consult with a board certified cosmetic surgeon. You can find cosmetic surgeons in your area by using our ABCS Find-a-Surgeon tool.