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Frequently Asked Questions About Liposuction

Who are the best candidates for liposuction?
Almost anyone who has localized deposits of fat and who is in reasonably good health may consider liposuction surgery. There are no definite age or weight limits, and patients of any age or weight who have collections of fat that make certain areas of their body look disproportionate to other areas may consider liposuction surgery.

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What areas can be treated?
Liposuction can be used to treat almost any localized collection of fat; although, some of the most commonly treated areas are the thighs, abdomen, neck, hips, knees, arms, back, male flanks, and male chest.

What is tumescent liposuction, and what are the differences between the various forms of liposuction?
There are two basic techniques of performing liposuction. One technique uses local anesthesia only and the other technique uses some form of general or systemic anesthesia. The main difference between the two is that liposuction done with local anesthesia only is safer, the recover is faster, and the results are smoother. Local anesthesia may be used in conjunction with general anesthesia, but this is not as safe as liposuction done with local anesthesia only. With local anesthesia only, the patient never loses consciousness during the procedure.

In the local anesthesia only technique, the area to be suctioned is numbed with a very dilute solution of anesthetic. This technique is called tumescent liposuction, and in addition to enabling liposuction to be performed more safely, it enhances fat removal, minimizes blood loss, and shortens recovery.

Are the results permanent?
Yes. The fat cells that are removed by liposuction will never return as long as one does not gain a massive amount of weight. Therefore, the new silhouette achieved by liposuction will remain as long as your weight stays stable. If a patient gains a moderate amount of weight after liposuction, the fat will be distributed evenly among the remaining fat cells. Thus, the areas that were suctioned may enlarge but not more than any other area of the body.

Does the fat go to other parts of the body?
Fat will not accumulate in other parts of the body as long as one maintains a stable weight after liposuction. If one does gain weight, fat gets distributed among the remaining fat cells throughout the body evenly.

How much does liposuction cost?
The cost of liposuction varies depending on the number of areas treated, the amount of extra fat to be removed, and whether or not liposuction has already been performed in the area.

How much weight will I lose by liposuction?
Liposuction typically only reduces one’s weight by 1 – 4 pounds. Therefore, liposuction primarily reshapes the silhouette but does not provide significant weight loss.

Liposuction vs. tummy tuck: Which one do I need?
A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that differs from liposuction by removing both fat and skin. Liposuction removes fat but not skin. The end result of a tummy tuck is skin that is pulled tight to create a flat stomach. The downsides of a tummy tuck are great. A tummy tuck cannot be performed under local anesthesia; therefore, there is the risk of general anesthesia, and a tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, leaves a long and unsightly scar across the abdomen where the skin was removed. The recovery period can be painful and long because of the extent of the operation. Given these downsides, very few patients would benefit more from a tummy tuck than liposuction. The only patients who may benefit most from a tummy tuck are those that have extreme laxity of their lower abdominal skin, unusually extensive stretch marks (striae), and loosened muscles of their abdominal wall usually as a result of pregnancy. The vast majority of patients with loose abdominal skin will get great results from liposuction alone because the skin contracts to a surprising degree after the fat is removed by liposuction; so that, excision is not necessary.

What is the recovery like after liposuction using local anesthesia only?
After liposuction using local anesthesia only, compression garments are applied in the office and are worn for several days. Discomfort is usually greatest 48 hours after the procedure but rarely requires more than Tylenol to control it. Most patients are able to return to work in 1 – 3 days and can cautiously start exercising within the first week.

What is the difference between liposuction and liposculpture?
Liposuction and liposculpture are two words to describe the exact same procedure. Tumescent liposuction or liposculpture is a technique of liposuction using only local anesthesia.

Is a laser used during liposuction?
Not routinely. A new form of liposuction, called SmartLipo, uses a laser fiber to melt fat before it is suctioned. SmartLipo is relatively new and does not have enough data to show that it offers any advantage over tumescent liposuction.

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