With summer coming up – I’ve been performing A LOT of liposuction procedures the last few months! I’ve had the same few questions come up multiple times from my patients. Here is a quick Q & A of the most common questions.
Q. If I gain weight after liposuction will I need it again?
A. Your body genetically has a certain number of fat cells deposited in particular areas. Some people are just born with more fat cells in their abdomen, flanks, inner thighs and no matter what they do, they just can’t lose the fat there. Liposuction removes the total number of fat cells that has preferentially deposited in these areas. If you gain weight, each fat cell in the body gets bigger, but because you have fewer fat cells in liposuctioned areas, you should proportionately gain less in the liposuctioned areas. It is always a possibility that if you gain a lot of weight, you may need liposuction again.
Q. Can liposuction help me lose weight?
A. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for diet and exercise. It is for re-shaping the body to treat areas that have a dis-proportionate amount of fat. Liposuction is ideally designed for pockets of fat in isolated areas that do not respond to diet and exercise. Also, the law limits the total amount of liposuction that can be removed at one time to 5L of liposuction for safety reasons. I always tell my patients to start with diet and exercise and to maintain a stable weight before undergoing liposuction. However, having liposuction often motivates patients who look better in their leggings or workout clothes, to begin a healthier lifestyle, and many people lose even more weight after their procedure.
Q. Is liposuction dangerous?
A. Any surgical procedure has risks of anesthesia, risks of getting a blood clot, and a number of other complications. Many of the serious complications from liposuction in the past involved cardiac reactions to the local anesthesia injected in the body before the procedure. Also, procedures involving large volumes of liposuction (> 5L) resulted in fluid shifts that caused cardiac and respiratory problems. These occurrences are now quite rare. A safe, well-trained surgeon will carefully calculate and keep track of the amount of local anesthesia used as well as the amount of liposuction removed. A partnership and good communication with the anesthesiologist will help to ensure the safest conditions possible.
Q. I’m fit and everyone tells me I’m in shape and don’t need anything done, but I hate the pocket of fat that bulges – am I still able to have liposuction?
A. I would say that the ideal candidate for liposuction is someone who is of healthy height and weight with small pockets of fat that they just can’t lose despite diet and exercise. As long as there are a few centimeters of fat present in an area, it can be removed. Many of my patients are very fit bikini models who don’t like the extra fat bulge or shape of their inner or outer thigh, or feel that they have a “muffin top” making their waistline bigger than desired. Liposuction is ideal for this type of re-shaping. I had an extremely small amount of fat removed from my knees and inner thighs over 10 years ago when I was modeling – so I can really relate to wanting removal of these small fat pockets. On the other hand, I have turned away patients who just didn’t have enough fat to be removed. In general, if you’re unsure, it’s best to see a plastic surgeon in consultation to evaluate your particular anatomy and decide if you are a candidate for liposuction.
Q. I’ve seen some bad liposuction – what happened there?
A. I know exactly what you are talking about – I can spot bad liposuction a mile away. There is always the possibility of asymmetry, skin dents, wrinkling, or folding. However, an experienced liposuction surgeon should be able to avoid most of these things from happening. Most of the really bad liposuction results often come from over suctioning the fat causing the skin to stick unnaturally to the underlying structures. I always tell patients that I have to leave a small cushion of fat under the skin to keep this from happening. I do the majority of the fat removal through surgery, and they do the rest with diet and exercise.
Q. Why do I have to wear compression garments?
A. The liposuction cannulas make tiny tracks as they remove fat. I tell patients to imagine a sponge with small holes. The compression garments help squeeze all the fluid and tissues down to allow for a smooth flat thin contour. They are sometimes cumbersome to wear, but worth it to have the best possible outcome. One of my celebrity liposuction patients who had to do several red carpet events soon after her surgery found some compression garments that give a nice smooth contour under clothing. I now use these often for my patients so the garments are less obvious under clothing.
I hope this helped answer most of your questions! Please remember that liposuction as well as any plastic surgery procedure should always be performed with a good understanding between patient and doctor of realistic expectations, and with an emphasis on safety.
Dr. Catherine Begovic M.D.