Liposuction

Who is a candidate?

Liposuction is one of the most popular procedures for both men and women.

Genetics, diet, exercise, and lifestyle all influence how much fat we have, and where it is located.

Even with optimal diet and exercise, there are areas that are resistant, like the love handles in many male and female patients.

Liposuction is a great tool to get rid of focal areas of fat, or sculpt and define the body, helping to change the overall proportions on one’s figure. Common reasons for having liposuction include:

  • Unwanted fatty deposits in focal areas (under chin, love handles, abdomen, thighs, etc)
  • Sculpting or chiseling out muscle contour on abdomen
  • Correcting asymmetry
  • Shaping the waist

Who is not a candidate?

  • Liposuction is not meant to be a primary method of weight loss.

    It is a contouring procedure, not a weight loss surgery. At the time of liposuction, it is best to be at a stable weight that is at or near your goal weight.

  • Liposuction may not be appropriate for patients with excess skin (unless skin excision is planned).

    Following liposuction, your skin is left to contract (or shrink) around the remaining smaller volume.

    If you have good quality skin, this will happen over time as you heal.

    If your skin is loose or of poor quality to start, it will not predictably contract. In these cases, liposuction could actually make you look worse, since now you will be left with drooping skin.

Different types of Liposuction?

There are many different types of liposuction, including standard, power-assisted, laser-assisted, ultrasound-assisted.

There are also a lot companies marketing their brand name such as SmartLipo, SlimLipo, etc.

These are all variations of the above techniques, and each brand puts a lot of marketing dollars behind making you think their brand is the best kind of liposuction.

None of the catchy liposuction names have proven to be better than power-assisted liposuction, while the risks laser-assisted and ultrasound-assisted liposuction are greater.

Some unwanted side effects that are possible with laser or ultrasound are thermal injury to the skin, dark discoloration of the skin over areas that were liposuction, burn at the liposuction cannula insertion site, irregular scarring of the skin down to the remaining tissue.

While all types may be effective in achieving great results, the risks are not equal.

The bottom line is that each type of liposuction carries certain risks, and the type that is the best for you is often what is best in your surgeon’s hands. Dr. Patel prefers power-assisted liposuction due to safety and consistently excellent results.

How big are the incisions?

The incisions used in liposuction are very small, only a few millimeters long, and are typically closed with a single stitch at the end of the procedure.

Dr. Patel may put the incisions in different locations on either side of the body, to be less obvious that there was a procedure done.

The incisions tend to heal well and are not noticeable, however results will vary in each patient according to how their body heals.

How much fat is removed?

The amount of fat removed will vary based on location and quality of the skin.

What is more important than what is taken out is what is left behind.

What is left is what determines your final contour, and you want you remove as much as you can to gain the contour you want (assuming it is reasonable for your body type), while not taking so much that it leaves you with an irregular contour or dents.

While the volumes removed vary from patient to patient and also depend on how many body areas are being liposuctioned.

If high volume removal is expected, it is best to recover at an aftercare facility so that your fluid balance can be monitored and you can be given enough fluids through IV if you are not taking enough by mouth.

Can you put the fat somewhere else?

Yes, you can use the fat removed by liposuction from one area to add volume to another area.

This is otherwise known as fat transfer. Fat can be transferred to all different areas. Common areas for fat transfer are to the face, breasts, and buttocks.

Can I be awake for liposuction?

Liposuction can safely be performed under local or general anesthesia, and Dr. Patel offers both options.

Often non-plastic surgeons like to offer liposuction while awake. This is not because it is better or safer.

It is possible that the office does not have an operating room or anesthesia services available, or the doctor does not have credentials to be in the operating room. Most patients prefer to be asleep, and not watching and hearing the procedure take place.

Liposuction with general anesthesia is typically more comfortable for the patient, and allows for a more controlled setting.

If the patient has small limited areas to be treated, local anesthesia is an alternative. Dr. Patel decides which type of anesthesia would be preferred on an individual basis.

Risks of liposuction?

Liposuction is a safe procedure when performed by appropriately trained surgeons in an accredited facility.
Standard risks of having includes: Pain; bleeding; infection; scarring; painful or hypertrophic scarring; hematoma; seroma; injury to vessels, nerves, any surrounding structures; prolonged swelling; contour irregularity; poor cosmetic result; asymmetry; need for further procedure; risks of anesthesia.

Unfortunately many physicians who are not trained in liposuction have started to perform the surgery, offering lower fees by cutting corners that put your results, safety, and life at risk.

If you are looking around for a doctor to do your liposuction, you should make sure the surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (not a similar sounding “board”), and ask if he or she has experience with liposuction.

Postoperative follow-up visits

Visits following liposuction surgery typically occur the day after surgery (for dressing change and making sure there were no issues overnight), the week after surgery (for removal of stitches), 2 weeks after that, and then spread out less frequently thereafter.

The schedule is adjusted based on doctor/patient preferences and needs.

Recovery time

Walking the day of surgery is recommended. You may shower 24 hours after surgery, preferably with a watertight dressing over the incision during the shower.

No baths, soaking in tubs, hot tubs, or swimming pools until incisions are fully healed.

Gentle soap (non-perfumed, non-irritating soap preferred) and water over the incision is okay.

Scar gel may be used starting 2 weeks after surgery on the incisions.

A garment that provides compression is recommended at all times for the first 2 weeks, then milder compression afterwards during activity.

Early in the recovery process, the areas may feel as full or even fuller than they were before, and this is due to swelling.

Your weight may also be increased, and clothing may feel tight.

The early round of swelling usually improves over 3 weeks, but there is still edema that will resolve over the next several months.

In general, Dr. Patel recommends avoiding full exercise for 6 weeks following surgery, at which time you can ease back into your workouts.

You may notice swelling after workouts.

You may return to work the week after surgery, depending on your pain level, stamina, and activities required in your occupation.

You may drive once you are no longer taking pain medications or muscle relaxers, and allow a 24 hour minimum window between your last pain medication or muscle relaxant dose and driving.

All recovery processes and recommendations vary patient to patient, so these general guidelines may not apply to every patient.