Is liposuction the right procedure for me?
As a liposuction surgeon I find there is a lot of confusion about who would benefit from liposuction. Essentially the answer is quite simple: anyone with body contour issues is suitable!
Most people have one or more areas of the body that are susceptible to attracting fat. When we are born we have a finite number of fat cells which remain with us for life.
When we put on weight each individual fat cell enlarges and when we take off weight each individual fat cell shrinks. However your body will have areas, for example the abdomen or outer thighs, where the fat cells have a greater preference for attracting fat.
Therefore those areas will be the first to put on weight and the last area to lose the weight if you are on a diet.
Liposuction to help body contour
I often see women who have troublesome areas that do not shrink in proportion to the rest of the body when they are regularly exercising and following a good diet. This type of patient is an ideal candidate for liposuction because once the fat cells have been removed from the troublesome area then the benefits are life long.
It doesn't matter whether you are 55Kg or 105Kg, liposuction works for areas of abnormal body contour.
Liposuction is not about weight loss
It is important to understand that liposuction is not a procedure for weight loss. Fat is relatively light so although you will likely look as though you have lost weight and your clothes will feel looser and may even drop a size, you will notice very little change on the scales.
Neither can liposuction lay claim to improving cellulite. Cellulite is a complex problem and excess fat in areas of cellulite is only part of the picture. So if you have cellulite in an area of liposuction it may be slightly improved but not so much that it can be claimed as a treatment.
If you know you are overweight but still have certain areas of the body that you wish to improve, liposuction can still be useful. Even though your weight will not reduce much you will look as though you have lost weight and your cloths will fit more comfortably.
Most women I see at the three month check are looking younger, dressing younger and have a noticeable improvement in self esteem. Most acquaintances will think you are looking better but unless they know you very well would not suspect that you have had liposuction.
What about liposuction for men?
For men one of the most common areas requested for liposuction is the abdomen. Men can carry their abdominal fat differently to women. Many men carry their abdominal fat within the abdominal cavity wrapped around the intestines rather than under the skin.
Other men do carry their tummy fat under the skin. Only the latter type of fat is suitable for liposuction.
An easy way to test whether men are suitable for tummy liposuction is to see whether you can pick the fat up with your fingers. This type of fat is suitable for liposuction. If the skin feels very tight and difficult to pick up with the fingers and the abdomen feels tense rather than soft then this is intra abdominal fat which is not accessible to liposuction as it resides below the abdominal muscles and peritoneum.
Tummy tuck or liposuction?
Many women in particular feel they need a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) rather than liposuction because they may have areas of loose skin. Certainly if you have a large overhang of loose skin a tummy tuck is often preferable.
However because a tummy tuck is a much more significant procedure with greatly increased risk, downtime and cost many women forgo the procedure. Many of these women do very well with liposuction alone as you can see in the accompanying before and after photo which was performed with liposuction only.
Breast reduction procedures
Another area of liposuction that is very much appreciated is that of breast reduction. Most women with large breasts have problems such as neck and back pain, shoulder indentations, difficulty running not to mention unwelcome attention on this area of their body.
Cosmetic surgical breast reduction is a significant procedure with a prolonged downtime and leaves women with significant scarring.
An alternative is breast reduction using liposuction which effectively leaves no visible scars. Only women with fatty breasts are suitable for this procedure as breast tissue cannot be treated in this way.
The assessment is made at the first consultation by performing an ultrasound of the breasts which clearly shows the fat layer versus the breast tissue.
A clue to suitability for breast reduction by liposuction is a story of gradually increasing size of the breasts from the twenties and up. Such an increase in size is nearly always due to accumulated fat. If your breasts quickly got very large from puberty on and then stayed a similar size thereafter this is usually breast tissue and won’t be suitable for liposuction.
The main advantages of breast reduction by liposuction is the rapid recovery with most women being able to return to work on the 3rd or 4th day and the fact there is no visible scarring.
More situations where liposuction can help men
Men with large breasts are also a good candidate for liposuction. Mostly the enlarged chest is due to fat. Occasionally there is some breast tissue (gynaecomastia) which is better removed surgically.
An ultrasound at the initial consultation can sort this out very quickly.
Liposuction for calves and ankles
Another very popular area for liposuction is the so called “cankles” which refer to increased fat around the calf and ankles. Many women avoid wearing skirts or shorts because of this problem.
The calves and ankles can be refined with liposuction so there is a more elegant contour to the lower leg. Occasionally the problem is due to large musculature but an ultrasound at the initial consultation can easily distinguish this.
Is liposuction a good option for upper arm fat?
Upper arm fat can be a real problem for many women affecting the type of clothing they are prepared to wear. Provided the skin is not loose and hanging removal of fat in this area can produce a dramatic improvement as the accompanying photos demonstrate.
The body of two halves
Some women have a “body of two halves” such as this woman with a size 8 top and a size 12 bottom half. Careful liposuction has dramatically improved the contour and this woman was able to start buying clothes off the rack for the first time in her life.
Hips, waist and abdomen treatments
The hip area is commonly treated with the waist and abdomen. Women generally dislike the so called ”muffin tops” that spill over low cut jeans. Liposuction of the hips deals with this problem very well and gives a much more youthful contour to the body.
Common liposuction areas for men and women
For men the typical areas that are treated with liposuction are abdomen, love handles and chin.
For women the common areas are abdomen, hips, outer and inner thighs, breast reduction, waist, flanks, knees, ankles and calves, buttocks, chin, mons pubis and upper arms.
Essentially wherever there is excess fat that causes contour issues liposuction provides a long term solution.
Is liposuction effective?
Many potential clients have heard that if you have liposuction it just comes back.
But in reality, because we are physically removing fat cells with liposuction that cannot ever be replaced, the results are effective if you maintain your weight. Of course, we do not remove all your fat cells from your problem areas as you need some fat to support the skin and insulate the body.
The remaining fat cells can expand with weight gain, so yes, you can put fat back on the problem area with weight gain but never as much as pre liposuction as you won't have as many fat cells available for expansion.
What are the risks associated with liposuction?
Like all surgical procedures there are risks associated with liposuction. An initial consultation will cover the risks of the procedure but fortunately modern liposuction performed under a type of anaesthetic called tumescent anaesthetic has an extremely low incidence of significant risk.
With tumescent liposuction you are awake (with sedation) so you can be moved as often as is necessary in order to truly sculpture the body.
You can even stand up at the end of the procedure to check the effect of gravity then lay down again for fine tuning. This type of liposuction is called liposculpture.
So if you are curious as to whether you are a suitable candidate for liposuction a full assessment can be made at an initial consultation and recommendations given including costs.
Contact us here if you have any questions or if you would like to book a consultation.