What Is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure whereby localized fat deposits are removed using a suction device through small, well-hidden incisions to provide improved body contouring to the treated area.
Liposuction is not a method of weight loss. While higher volume liposuction does remove a lot of fat in local regions, the overall amount of weight lost is relatively modest, and certainly not as much as patients would like to see.
This procedure can be performed on most parts of the body where excess fat accumulates, but some areas respond better than others. Common areas treated are the abdomen, the flanks (“love-handles”), the thighs including “saddle bags,” around the knees, the chest (gynecomastia), the upper arms, and under the chin.
Who Is A Good Candidate For The Lipo Procedure?
Individuals who are good candidates for liposuction are generally at, or close to their ideal weight, but the problem areas, such as the abdomen, the flanks (“love-handles”), the thighs including “saddle bags,” around the knees, the chest (gynecomastia), the upper arms, and under the chin still bother them.
How Does The Lipo Procedure Work?
Depending on the extent of a procedure, Lipo can be safe if you’re using straight local anesthesia, local anesthesia with sedation (“twilight sleep”), or with general anesthesia. The procedure begins with the application of a wetting solution called “tumescent anesthesia”. This solution helps to numb the area. It also helps help reduce bleeding, providing a smoother result with less risk of dents or furrows.
After the wetting solution is administered, the next step is to create small incisions in the preferred area to remove fat. By approaching from different angles, if possible, we obtain more even results. Patients can be repositioned as needed to treat all areas. Incision usually close with a suture or two, but sometimes the incisions are left to drain. Band-aides and compressive garments are then put on afterward. Compression is worn for 4 – 6 weeks to control swelling and help with shaping after the surgery.
Liposuction Surgery Before And After
What Is The Recovery From A Liposuction Procedure?
After the procedure, patients wear a compressive garment for 4 to 6 weeks at all times except when showering. Over the first week, patients should take it easy—nothing strenuous that might raise heart rate or blood pressure. This is to avoid bleeding or development of a fluid collection, and the first week is the most critical from this perspective.
After a week, I encourage my patients to proceed with cardio activities, generally low-impact, in order to recondition themselves after a big surgical procedure and a week off. After two weeks, I allow patients to go ahead with resistance training. They advance this as they tolerate it over the subsequent four to six weeks.
As for work, many patients can have surgery Friday and be back to work on Monday, presuming they have a non-strenuous job. Those whose jobs are more physical may need to take a week or two off of work if they’re able to.
Liposuction - Before & After
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Liposuction Results & Expectations
Results of liposuction vary from person to person, but generally, the goal is to improve contour in the areas that receive treatment. Patients may see some loss of weight, but this is usually in the five to ten pound range, and patients should know that this isn’t a weight loss procedure, but rather a contouring procedure. In some cases, time is a requirement to allow for skin retraction and tightening, and for resolution of swelling.
Preliminary results are obvious immediately in most cases. After swelling resolves, somewhat normal appearance of the improved area will be observed within six to eight weeks post-op. Continued healing will allow for the skin to tighten and smooth out. The results of liposuction are long-lasting if patients maintain a prudent diet and exercise regimen and avoid weight gain. Should a patient gain weight after surgery, the distribution of that weight gain may be different with less going to the areas that are receiving treatment and more fat going to other areas that were not.
Tummy Tuck vs Liposuction
There is a huge difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck. Liposuction removes fat, not skin. This happens by very small incisions that are almost impossible to notice after the procedure. A tummy tuck may include liposuction as part of it, but the primary difference that large areas of skin are removed with a tummy tuck in order to tighten the abdominal wall. This results in a large scar across the lower abdomen, which is very different from liposuction.
Are There Risks To A Liposuction Procedure?
Prior to the lipo procedure, patients should avoid supplements or medications that might cause bleeding. Examples of these medications include aspirin or other NSAIDs, fish oil, and fat burners. Patients should be aware of limitations after the surgery and plan accordingly, whether it’s making preparations at home or arranging for absence or adjustments in work schedule.
Liposuction, when done properly in an appropriate setting is very safe.
There are risks with any surgical procedure, and it’s important for patients to understand that lipo is a surgical procedure, in spite of the fact that incisions are very small and the surgical sites can hide under the skin.
Risks include any associated anesthetic risks, which are generally minimal for young, healthy patients typical of those undergoing liposuction. Surgical risk includes bleeding and infections, though these are quite rare as well.
There is typically sensory alteration in sites that are receiving treatment, but most of the numbness resolves over time. Fluid collections (seromas) can occur post-operatively, and these are usually easy to treat with aspiration using a needle and syringe. Long-term issues are mostly related to contour irregularities from under- or over-suction. These might require a secondary or “touch-up” operation.
How Much Does Liposuction Cost?
Liposuction cost will vary from location to location with higher prices in high cost of living areas. In the Boston area, the cost for most liposuction procedures focusing on one area (abdomen/flanks or thighs, for example) is approximately $6000 – $8000 total cost (including hospital and anesthesia fees).
Combining areas will cut overall cost per area, but this must be done in a manner which is safe and avoids excessive volume of aspirate.
Will I Be In Pain After Lipo Procedure?
Lipo is painful to some degree in all patients, though tolerance varies. In a very extensive procedure, patients may require pain medication for several days post-operatively, in comparison to smaller procedures, where minimal medication is what patients will use afterwards.
Will I Need Medication Before Or After Surgery?
There are no specific medications that I recommend prior to liposuction surgery, though there are various homeopathic remedies, such as arnica, which may be popular. I don’t recommend anything specific, but in most cases, I’m okay with patients who use such medications.
When Can I Return To Normal Activities?
This depends on what you refer to as normal activities. Most patients can resume most activities within a few days, other than very strenuous exercise or labor. Most patients are nearly completely back to normal within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. Check out our “Getting Back to Training Instructional Sheet” for more information.
Does Liposuction Treat Cellulite?
Liposuction doesn’t treat “cellulite”. There are different theories of what causes cellulite, but liposuction doesn’t remedy, and in fact, it can worsen the condition. Patients should be reminded that Liposuction is not a method of weight loss. While higher volume liposuction does remove a lot of fat in local regions, the overall amount of weight lost is relatively modest, and certainly not as much as patients would like to see.
Your Liposuction Consultation
When you come for your consultation, we will review your history, including previous weight gain and weight loss history, other health problems and previous surgery. Our doctors will perform a physical examination and take photographs of the specific body parts that will receive the liposuction procedure.
Our doctors review the surgery in detail including risks and benefits. At any moment, you will have the opportunity to ask questions about the procedure and view photos. Payment and scheduling options will be reviewed. Afterwards, you can proceed with scheduling and you’ll be on your way to improved contour!