If you’re coveting the body of your dreams, you’re probably making an immense effort to get the results you desire: eating a healthy, well-balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight or losing excess weight, and exercising regularly, including strength training to improve muscle tone.
Yet even if you’re doing everything right, you may still feel like there are some parts of your body that are simply not cooperating with your fat loss goals, keeping you from the silhouette and proportions you hope for. If you’re one of these frustrated people, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your frustration and that there is a surgical procedure that can help.
Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States and is performed on approximately 265,209 patients in 2019 alone, second only to breast augmentation/breast reduction in plastic surgery procedures. Liposuction affects body contour and redefines your proportions by removing an excess amount of fat, not to be confused with a tummy tuck.
Although liposuction can be performed as a standalone procedure, it is often combined with other plastic surgery procedures such as facial or breast surgery in order to help the patient achieve the body of their dreams.
What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a popular plastic surgery procedure that is sometimes referred to as “lipo.” During liposuction, Dr. Applebaum uses a thin, hollow rod called a cannula to remove excess fat in large areas of the body, such as the belly, thighs, or hips. The cannula is attached to a machine that provides suction, which pulls the excess fat out of the body in areas where there are excess stores of fat.
Most people undergo liposuction with the intention of helping themselves lose the final pounds that they have been unable to shed through diet and exercise, but the procedure is not a suitable alternative to living a healthy lifestyle and losing weight, especially since it’s not meant to remove large volumes of fat all over the body.
Fat loss associated with liposuction is permanent, but it is possible to gain weight again if patients stop exercising regularly, give up on their healthy diet, or go back to an unhealthy lifestyle. Liposuction is most commonly performed on areas of the body that include:
- Chest and back
- Chin and neck
- Upper arms
- Calves and ankles
- Hips and thighs
What are the different types of liposuction?
There are many different types of liposuction, but there are four main liposuction techniques most commonly used by plastic surgeons. Any time that a vacuum is applied to removing fat the technique is called suction assisted lipectomy. In almost all liposuction procedures a tumescent solution is used for ease of use and better results.
Tumescent liposuction involves the injection of a solution containing local anesthetic like lidocaine underneath the skin in the treatment area to minimize both bleeding and discomfort to the patient. This type of liposuction can often be performed under local anesthesia for smaller areas and with general or IV sedation for larger areas.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction employs the use of ultrasound energy to break up and loosen fatty tissue in the body, which makes it easier to suction out quickly. More commonly used is the liposuction technique called power-assisted liposuction, which uses vibrations to also break up fat into smaller, easier-to remove segments.
Laser-assisted liposuction is similar to ultrasound-assisted liposuction, except that it uses laser energy to break up and loosen fat cells.
How do I know if liposuction is right for me?
Due to some misconceptions about liposuction, some people may not have realistic expectations about what liposuction is capable of accomplishing in terms of fat removal.
People with any of the following concerns are not likely to be satisfied with the results of their liposuction procedure if their intent is specifically to address these concerns:
- Large amount of loose skin or sagging skin, as liposuction works best in areas that have high skin elasticity and need to have body fat removed. Patients with loose or sagging skin or skin with poor elasticity may notice that the sagging is worse following liposuction.
- Cellulite is not generally an issue tackled by Plastic surgeons, and it’s commonly misconceived that liposuction can help get rid of this.
- Significant weight loss goals, as liposuction is primarily designed for body contouring and will not help patients lose a significant amount of weight.
For other patients, liposuction is an excellent option. Patients with the following concerns are likely to be pleased with the results that liposuction has to offer:
- Excess fat on specific areas like the thighs, hips, belly, neck, chin, chest, or arms that have not responded to consistent diet and exercise.
- Disproportionate parts of the body, such as extremely large hips on an otherwise slim patient.
Liposuction is most effective when performed on patients with excellent skin elasticity, because the skin will be able to contract to conform to the body’s new shape. Patients should also be at or close to their goal body weight (within 30 percent) in order to achieve the best results, as liposuction addresses localized fat deposits, and is not intended for overall weight loss.
What is recovery like after liposuction?
No matter which type of liposuction you choose to undergo, you will experience minimal to moderate recovery time and side effects, as the procedure is considered minimally invasive. Each patient will recover from liposuction at a slightly different rate, so your recovery and follow-up plan will be created specifically for you by Dr. Applebaum.
Following a liposuction surgery, which generally involves a small incision and general anesthesia, the majority of patients wear compression garments or elastic bandages on top of the treated area. These bandages and garments help keep swelling down and coax the skin to mold to the body’s new contours, providing the toned look patients desire.
Most patients can expect to take off up to one week of work and participate in only light activity, such as walking, during the first several weeks of recovery. Bruising and soreness can be experienced for up to two weeks during liposuction recovery, and exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided for two to three weeks after liposuction. Pain medication can help alleviate pain and can assist in getting back to normal activities.
Patients may experience swelling for several months following surgery and may not see the final results until six to eight months after the procedure, although most patients can see noticeable results in the first four weeks and can generally get back to normal activity at 2-4 weeks after their procedure.
Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum
Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.