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What is liposuction?

Dr. Mohammad Khosravi
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Liposuction is a surgical technique that improves the body’s contour by removing excess fat from fatty deposits located between the skin and muscle, improving your body contours and proportion, and ultimately, enhancing your self-image. Patients usually have liposuction at the top of their priority list as it is a popular surgery with astounding results.

A number of refinements have been added to the liposuction procedure for a more precise look and faster recovery times.

Liposuction is not a weight loss tool; rather it is part of an integrated solution which includes diet, exercise and other body sculpting steps. The end result is an attractive aesthetic body which is in conformance with natural balance.

Liposuction surgery can be used to treat stubborn fat pockets in many parts of the body including the thighs, arms, neck, hips, waist, back, inner knee, chest, cheeks, chin, calves, and ankles. In some cases, liposuction is performed alone, in other cases it is used with plastic surgery procedures such as tummy tuck.

What liposuction won't do: Liposuction surgery is not a treatment for obesity and is not a replacement for regular exercise and good eating habits. People with stubborn areas of fat and who exercise regularly are the best candidates for this procedure.

Dr. Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction is a surgical procedure in which fatty tissue is removed from different parts of the body by the use of cannula and vacuum suction. Liposculpture is recontouring the facial regions, arms, breast, abdomen and thigh regions by removing localized deep fat deposits with a cannula hooked up to a vacuum suction pressure machine. Patients who are good candidates for liposculpture will have good skin tonicity and have localized deep fat deposits. The best areas to sculpt the body include the abdomen, hips, flanks, and thigh regions. These areas respond well and skin tone may tighten accordingly. Forms of liposuction include tumescent technique in which fluid is infiltrated into the fatty area. Tumescent fluid includes three components: epinephrines for vasoconstriction, lidocaine for numbing effects, and sodium chloride or lactated ringer water solution to hydrate the fat cells and allow the cells to be removed confluently. Liposuction is an excellent surgical procedure for patients who are at their ideal body weight, however, have resistant fat to diet and exercise and have localized fat deposits that cannot be removed. Lipodystrophy or localized fat accumulations are often genetic. Forms of liposuction include tumescent technique, super wet technique, wet technique, ultrasonic, power-assisted liposuction, smart liposuction. In general, tumescent liposuction is considered the gold standard with the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Dr. Michelle Copeland, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Today liposuction can be used to recontour the body from head to toe, including the abdomen, hips, thighs, arms, buttocks, breasts, neck, jowls, back, calves ankles, and knees. New technology that's gentler and faster than ever before not only allows the removal of large amounts of fat, but also resculpts the body.

Liposuction works best on patients who are of relatively average weight, but who need help with a problem area, or with shedding the ten pounds they regain between diets. Liposuction modifies volume by sucking out fat, and liposuction candidates need good skin tone. Because liposuction stimulates the skin to tighten, good elasticity provides a smooth contour after fat is removed. Many times, liposuction of one area provides a good jump start for further dieting and exercise, allowing you to continue to lose weight.

Smart Lipo is a form of liposuction that uses laser light to liquefy fat and tighten the surrounding skin. It involves less downtime and side-effects than traditional liposuction and is particularly good for small areas of fat deposits. It also helps improve skin laxity. Sometimes a combination technique using both Thermage and Smart Lipo is best when there is moderate skin laxity.

For the most part, recovery from liposuction is easily manageable. Since clothing can conceal areas that have been sculpted, most patients are back at work after just a couple of days. You will just need to wear a tight-fitting elastic compression garment during your first week to help the skin adhere. At a week to 10 days, you can remove the garment to shower, though you'll likely have to wear it for an additional week.

Dr. Arthur W. Perry, MD
Plastic Surgeon

Liposuction has been one of the most popular procedures in plastic surgery. Through tiny incisions, fat is vacuumed from your thighs, belly or neck. You're back to work within a week and on the beach in a month. The satisfaction rate for liposuction is very high and the complication rate is low. Women most commonly have liposuction of their thighs, bellies and necks. Men have their bellies and necks suctioned most often.

Dr. Homayoun N. Sasson, MD
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon

Liposuction, also referred to as lipoplasty, refers to a procedure that breaks up, sucks out and removes the fat in specific parts of the body. It helps restore and enhance contour and proportionality of those parts compared to the rest of the body. It's typically used for areas such as neck, back, breasts, arms, abdomen, flanks, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. When considered and executed safely, this procedure is often associated with only mild pain, discomfort and bruising, extreme patient satisfaction and early return to work and other activities. Patients are advised to wear a moderately tight and compressive garment around the suctioned area for about three months and follow the proper lifestyle of diet and exercise in order to maintain the new contoured shape. It is not intended for extreme weight loss as excessive fat removal at one time may be associated with serious postoperative side effects.

Liposuction is a procedure used to eliminate areas of fat from around the body. Learn more from Dr. Jeremy Warner on behalf of NorthShore University about the risks of liposuction.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.