Liposuction, sometimes referred to as “lipo” by patients and doctors, is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures. In fact, more than 400,000 of these surgeries are performed every year in the U.S. alone. Many people have achieved fantastic results from having liposuction performed on their neck, abdomen or thighs.
Liposuction has been around since the 1970s. However, recent technological advances have made the procedure more successful than ever before. Surgeons are utilizing their considerable knowledge and experience to improve outcomes for all patients, and that means that more people are waking up to find themselves more confident and happier than they have been in years.
Is Liposuction Right For Me?
Before deciding to have this body-contouring procedure, it’s important to understand what liposuction can do. Liposuction is not a remedy for obesity, nor is it a substitute for making healthy lifestyle choices. In fact, many plastic surgeons will not provide this treatment to patients who are not within about 30 percent of their ideal body weight. That’s because surgery is always risky, and a patient who is not in relatively good physical condition may be putting their life and well-being in peril.
Accordingly, liposuction is mainly for people who have made positive lifestyle changes, but aren’t necessarily seeing the alteration in their body contours that they hoped for. Sometimes, despite prolonged efforts with nutrition and exercise, the body has difficulty shedding certain deposits of fat. These stubborn deposits reside in places like the abdomen, thighs, love handles, under the chin, hips, buttocks and upper arms. Occasionally, the procedure has also been used on the chest, calves, ankles, back and cheeks. Only a board-certified physician is qualified to recommend liposuction for you.
What Liposuction Does
Most patients see subtle results in the aftermath of their surgery. That’s because liposuction does not equal overall weight loss. Instead, it is focused on one or more very specific parts of the body that have particularly stubborn fat deposits. It cannot remedy cellulite, make stretch marks disappear or smooth out dimples. Nonetheless, it can enhance the recipient’s contours, and the vast majority of patients are thrilled with the outcome.
The procedure involves the permanent removal of fat cells from the patient’s body. This effectively changes the body’s shape. While certain fat cells are completely removed, this does not mean that this portion of the body cannot develop a new, oversized deposit of fat. The remaining fat cells in the treated area can become enlarged if the patient does not eat right and get plenty of exercise. That’s why physicians recommend adopting a healthy lifestyle both before and after having liposuction.
Only a certain portion of the fat cells in a particular area can be removed during the treatment. Removing too much fat can be dangerous for the patient, which is why the outcome can be more modest than people initially imagine it will be. This is why having a consultation with a board-certified physician is such a vital part of the process.
What to Expect During a Liposuction Consultation
At your liposuction consultation, your doctor will review your health history and ask you many questions about your lifestyle. You’ll be a better candidate for the procedure if you are within 30 percent of your ideal body weight and are a non-smoker. Additionally, your doctor will want to screen you for any serious illnesses or medical conditions that might make having a surgical procedure particularly hazardous. Your doctor will similarly stress the importance of keeping your expectations realistic. The better you understand what the procedure can do, and what it cannot do, the better the chances are that you will be thrilled with the results.
Your doctor will also closely observe the tone and elasticity of your skin. If your skin is not resilient enough, then you may end up with excess skin after the fat is removed. Your doctor may recommend a procedure to deal with the excess skin at the same time that the liposuction is performed. However, a follow-up surgery may also be required. Ask your plastic surgeon questions about the possibility of needing a skin removal procedure.
The Liposuction Procedure
Liposuction is typically performed under general anesthesia. The surgery typically takes between one and four hours. Your experienced plastic surgeon will decide which state-of-the-art liposuction procedure suits your unique needs. In the majority of cases, saline solution will be pumped below the skin through a small, inconspicuous incision. The solution contains lidocaine, a local anesthetic, and epinephrine, which constricts blood vessels. These liquids help to control swelling, bruising and bleeding. However, the main purpose of the solution is to separate the fat cells from the muscles and other tissues. This makes the fat cells much easier to remove. After the solution is pumped in, the physician inserts a hollow instrument called a cannula into the incision. The cannula is gently moved back and forth to further loosen the fat cells before a surgical vacuum is used to remove the fat through the cannula.
Many patients can see the results of their surgery almost immediately after it occurs. However, the full results won’t be apparent for a few weeks or months as the swelling gradually subsides. Your physician will provide you with elastic bandages or a compression garment to wear over the treated area in an effort to control swelling. The bandage or compression garment has the added advantage of helping to shape your skin to your improved contours. Before you leave the hospital, you’ll be given full instructions regarding how to care for your incision, any medications you must take and when to come in for a follow-up appointment.
If you don’t think liposuction is right for you but still want to improve your appearance we have many other options to help you look your best.
Liposuction is a reliable method for getting rid of stubborn deposits of fat that don’t seem to respond to proper diet and exercise. While the procedure cannot substitute for making healthy choices, it can certainly help patients to finally achieve the slimmer, firmer body that they have been working toward. Millions of people around the world have already benefitted from having this surgery performed. You can be one of them. Ready to improve your appearance and build your self-confidence?