Body Contouring - Liposuction


Liposuction is the most popular operation performed by plastic surgeons today. The simple reason for this is that IT WORKS. Liposuction is ideal for the patient who has localized areas of fat that don’t respond to diet or exercise. It is a very safe operation and patients often return to work and normal activities in less than a week. The incisions used for liposuction are almost undetectable. The most common areas treated in women are thighs (outer, inner and circumferential), abdomen, hips, buttocks, arms, knees and back. Men often have the abdomen, love handles or breasts treated.

Liposuction Surgery Consultation

The ideal patient is close to their ideal weight and in good health. Body contouring is only an adjunct to a healthy life style which includes good diet and regular exercise. Most people seek liposuction to improve their self image, to fit better in clothing and to improve areas that are out of proportion to the rest of their body. Liposuction is not a method of weight loss. The average liposuction patient in our practice has about 3500cc of fat removed which translates to 5-7 lbs on the scale. Some patients require greater removal to achieve the contouring needed and others require less removal. In healthy patients large quantities of fat can be removed but when >5000 cc of fat are removed, the patient is required to stay in a overnight facility for safety purposes.

Liposuction removes only fat and the skin is asked to retract over the new thinner layer of fat that remains. If the skin has good elasticity this occurs predictable and patients are pleased with their new contour. If the skin has lost its elasticity the skin may be looser after the liposuction. This can usually be determined at the time of your consultation, body lifting procedures may be recommended depending on your clinical exam.

Fat cells are removed permanently after liposuction. Normally fat cells do not multiply with weight gain, the cells simply enlarge. Therefore, if a person gains weight after liposuction it will not usually return to the area suctioned since these fat cells are gone and cannot enlarge, but the fat cells in other areas can still enlarge.

The Liposuction Operation

Liposuction can be done under general anesthesia, local anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation. The procedure takes between 1-3 hours, depending on the number of areas treated. All patients are placed in post operative garments which are typically worn for the first 3 weeks.  There is little pain immediately after liposuction because the local anesthetic that is placed at the time of surgery lasts about 4 hours. After the local anesthetic wears off there can be significant discomfort that requires pain medication. This usually lasts 24-48 hours.

Liposuction Recovery

Most patients return to work in 3-5 days and are encouraged to walk on day one. Exercise can be resumed as tolerated after the first week and most patients are at full activity after 3 weeks. Swelling is persistent and can remain for several months after the procedure. Swelling lasts longer in older patients and usually the patient has their final result using the formula one month per decade.