Liposuction: The Skinny On What It Can and Cannot Do
Liposuction cannot fix your partner’s aversion to putting the lid on the toothpaste. It can’t help you sort out why dog food commercials make you cry. (So. sob. Cute.) And if liposuction had fingers, it couldn’t magically snap them and make you fit into your high school prom dress. Despite the skill of your plastic surgeon, the many advances in cosmetic surgery and all the magical things you’ve read on the internet, liposuction—like all cosmetic procedures—has its limitations. Understanding those limitations is what stands in the way of you and a successful outcome. So let’s nip this in the bud and take a look at exactly what liposuction can and cannot do.
First, what is liposuction?
Liposuction, also known as body contouring, is a cosmetic surgery procedure in which a hollow rod, called a cannula, is inserted into a fairly narrow incision made in the body. The cannula has a hole at the end which is attached to a tube that sucks any unwanted fat out of the body, removing exercise and diet resistant pads of fat in a relatively quick and less-invasive fashion than other body contouring procedures. There are a variety of liposuction methods and a board-certified plastic surgeon can help you decide which method will work best for you.
What liposuction can do:
- Liposuction leaves smaller scars than other body contouring procedures, due to the small incision size necessary to insert the cannula.
- Liposuction typically defines the body in a relatively shorter operating time than a tummy tuck or other body contouring procedure, and has a fairly quick post-op recovery as the procedure is less-invasive.
- Liposuction has a high satisfaction rate amongst patients, who claim that their appearance seems slimmer and their clothes fit better after their procedures.
And since, in life, we often have to take the good with the bad…
What liposuction is not:
Liposuction is not a weight loss tool. Repeat. Liposuction is not a weight loss tool. If your expectation is that any qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon is going to recommend liposuction in lieu of eating healthy and hitting the gym to rid yourself of extra lbs., you’re likely to be disappointed. Your doctor may even have the audacity to recommend that you lose weight through dieting and exercise before considering liposuction. (Gasp!)
In all seriousness, most doctors recommend that an ideal patient be no more than 20 pounds heavier than their ideal body weight, be in good health, have firm, elastic skin and not be a smoker.
What liposuction cannot do:
- Liposuction cannot get rid of cellulite. There are other procedures that can help reduce the appearance of cellulite… but liposuction ain’t one of ‘em.
- Liposuction is not a permanent fix. In fact, pregnancy, age and weight gain can alter your original results. How? I’m glad you asked. While liposuction does remove some fat cells, the ones left behind can still increase in size. So if you thought having liposuction would eliminate the need to maintain a healthy diet and exercise… well… you would be wrong.
- Liposuction can only remove subcutaneous fat, the fat located just below the skin. Yes, our body fat is comprised of about 90% subcutaneous fat, the soft jiggly bits you might feel when you poke your belly. It’s that other 10%—called visceral fat—that liposuction has no effect on. A chat with your doctor will help you discern the ’S’ from the ‘V’.
- Liposuction can require the need for other skin tightening procedures. If your skin has good elasticity then it will likely “snap” back to your new shape. If your skin has not-so-good elasticity, then you may need surgery to remove any loose skin to achieve a firmer silhouette.
So there it is, the cold, hard truth. Liposuction is a many splendored thing, but not a magical cure-all. A consult with your board-certified plastic surgeon will help you discern whether you’re a good candidate for liposuction and if that is the best procedure to help you eliminate any unwanted excess body fat.