- Am I Really a Candidate for Liposuction?
- What Type of Liposuction Do You Do?
- Will I Lose a Lot of Weight?
- What Kind of Scars and Recovery Can I Expect?
- Will I Stay Skinny After Liposuction?
1. Am I Really a Candidate for Liposuction?
Liposuction works best for patients who already follow a routine of healthy eating and consistent exercise. If you have smaller, localized areas of fat that stick around no matter how many calories you forego or how many reps you do, you’re a great candidate. Liposuction is not meant as a solution for overall weight loss. If that was the case, we’d all get our fat vacuumed out on a regular basis. Liposuction is best suited to external fat. If you have internal, or what we call “visceral” fat, which is inside the abdominal cavity, then liposuction will not be able to remove that type of fat.
Calculating your Body Mass Index (BMI), is a good first step to finding out if you are a good candidate for liposuction. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women, and you can calculate your own BMI number by clicking. With this information, you can ensure that you are NOT obese, and thus a good candidate for surgery. I, as well as most plastic surgeons, would like my patients to have a BMI of around 35 or less. This is highly variable, and even patients with a lower BMI may not be candidates for surgery. Only a consultation and a physical examination can determine the best candidates.
What Liposuction Techniques Do You Use?
Traditional Liposuction – In traditional liposuction, tumescent fluid that slows down bleeding and provides some numbing is injected into the targeted areas where liposuction will be done. Small incisions less than 5mm long are made, and the liposuction instrument is inserted into the openings. The fat is then broken up mechanically and suctioned out.
Ultrasonic Liposuction – In ultrasonic liposuction, tumescent fluid is still injected, but the fat is broken up by first melting it with the ultrasonic equipment. The ultrasound device a solid metal cylinder that melts the fat with sound waves. Regular suctioning is then done afterwards to remove the melted fat.
Laser Liposuction – Another way of performing liposuction is using a laser after the tumescent fluid is injected. A thin plastic tube or catheter is inserted into the area of excess fat, and a laser light is fed through the tube to melt the fat. Depending on the device, this fat is either absorbed or removed using suctioning techniques.
Zeltiq – This is a newer, non-invasive device that uses very cold temperatures to freeze your body’s fat. Its effectiveness is still under review, and it has the drawback that only an area that can actually be clamped by the devices arms will undergo fat loss.
I use all of these techniques selectively. As a surgeon, I tend to remove more fat in very small areas, so I usually use the traditional liposuction or ultrasonic liposuction techniques. As a patient, you will need a physical exam to determine what is best for you.
Will I Lose a Lot of Weight?
Liposuction does NOT result in a large amount of weight loss. Rather, it results in a lot of fat being removed from your “problem” areas. If you weigh yourself immediately after surgery, you may find that you way the same or even more! Don’t be discouraged, depressed or angry. The swelling will go down and so will the pounds on the scale. However, long-term, you will find you will probably only be 2-5 pounds lighter. The great news is that you will be lighter in the areas that you’ve found hard to reduce.
What Kind of Scars and Recovery Can I Expect?
Your scars should be quite small, usually 2-5 mm long, and in hidden areas. Typically, the scars are in skin folds, such as the belly button, groin fold, etc. Occasionally, these tiny scars need to be placed in slightly more visible areas but will fade to nearly white in about 12 months.
You will feel very sore in the areas that received liposuction, similar to what you feel the next day after a tough gym workout. The recovery length depends on your overall body resilience, how many areas you have treated, and how much fat has been removed. You will wear a compression garment for the first week or so to help your skin tighten and adhere to the underlying tissues. Most patients return to work 4-7 days after their liposuction procedure.
Will I Stay Skinny After Liposuction?
Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen are vital to keeping your new shape after liposuction. I have noted that some of my patients are disappointed with the results of their liposuction surgery 6 or 12 months after surgery. When I weigh them, I’m often surprised that the patient has gained weight, despite having liposuction! I cannot control a patient’s calorie intake, and I can only hope that you’ll treat your new body in the same way you treat a new car … with TLC!
Long-term, you should have a smoother, thinner and more shapely contour in all areas that you decide to treat. The fat that is removed with liposuction is gone forever. Liposuction removes fat cells, or lipocytes, that are plump and filled with fat. However, liposuction does NOT remove the thin, non plump lipocytes that left behind. So, if you do not maintain your diet and exercise, your thin cells will turn into plump cells, and you will gain the fat back in all of the original areas in which your body likes to store fat.
If you have any more questions, please feel free to leave them below, and I’ll try to answer them.