The battle against excess body fat is an age-old one, and while there are numerous treatment options today for eliminating excess fat, few can rival the results produced by liposuction. Liposuction (aka "lipo") is a procedure that's been around for quite awhile, although new technology has improved it over the years. As you might have guessed, liposuction involves suctioning out excess fat (lipo) cells in areas that are resistant to a healthy diet and exercise -- even with serious, dedicated effort.
We all want a sculpted, contoured body. And why not? If you've been lucky enough in the past to have enjoyed being toned and fit, you know that shopping for (and wearing) clothes becomes a pleasure. You get to forgo the annoying quest for something that will hide that belly paunch, disguise flabby arms or minimize out-of-proportion thighs. Instead, you're treated to the pleasure of selecting clothing that you love without regard to its ability to mask anything!
Where Liposuction Works Best
Liposuction is a versatile treatment that produces particularly good results on the following common problem areas of the body …
Abdominal fat can be so hard to get rid of! Whether it’s an all-over problem, or is localized in the lower abdominal area as a “pooch”, even people who are ultra-fit can become frustrated by excess, stubborn belly fat. (This is a common problem for many women following childbirth. Many women find that even when they’ve lost every pound of “baby weight”, their tummy fat hangs on despite their best efforts!)
So-called “love handles” are those areas of fat extending from the sides of the abdomen around to the back. They affect both men and women and are responsible for the “muffin top” effect where excess fat spills over the top of your favorite pair of jeans!
Do you avoid showing your profile when posing for a photo because of a double chin? People of all ages can develop a double chin, even when they’re otherwise fit and trim. It’s pretty hard — if not downright impossible — to “exercise” it away! Since liposuction can be performed on small areas, it can take care of the problem once and for all, making you look years younger in the process!
Liposuction is an extremely effective way to sculpt thighs and make them look more in proportion to the rest of the body. (e.g., If you’re “pear-shaped”, chances are that no matter how hard you try to tone your thighs, they’re still going to end up looking a bit too large in relation to the rest of your body.) Liposuction is particularly effective on the outer thigh area.
Whether you’re male or female, it’s certain that you’d prefer a smooth, shapely back to one that’s defined by excess fat. It’s a particular problem for women when it bulges out from beneath their bras. Liposuction is a great solution to excess back fat as long as it’s not caused by sagging skin rather than actual fat cells.
If your upper arms are flabby due to excess fat and not loose skin, liposuction can be a solution to the problem, eliminating those unwanted “bat wings”.
Although it’s true that it seems as though many women would like to have larger breasts, it’s equally true that nearly as many women wish that theirs were smaller. Liposuction can be an effective means of reducing large breasts as long as they’re not too dense or saggy. If yours are large but still “perky”, it’s worth talking to your cosmetic surgeon about the possibility of reducing their size with liposuction. If your doctor determines that liposuction isn’t the right method for you, he or she will explain other options such as breast reduction surgery.
Men can have a problem with their breasts being too large, too. This can occur as the result of weight gain, steroid use, or from a hormonal imbalance. In fact, there’s actually a name for the condition: It’s known as Gynecomastia. It’s not a medically dangerous condition, but needless to say, it can be a cause of embarrassment to men who have it, and in some, it can be painful as well. Liposuction can help, as long as the tissue involved is not particularly dense.
These are all areas of the body where fat can accumulate and be particularly hard to eradicate with diet and exercise alone. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery rightly points out that liposuction can help with fat removal, but can also be a valuable procedure for minor sculpting. This is because, as they put it, “no other technique allows for such detailed improvements in body contour”. In fact, liposuction is best for women and men who are within 10 to 20 pounds of their ideal weight.
If you’re significantly overweight, your best strategy is to increase the amount of exercise you get, cut back on sweets and fatty foods, and wait until you’re just 10 to 20 pounds from your ideal weight before considering liposuction treatment. (Note: You must also be an adult — over the age of 18 — to be considered for liposuction treatment.)
There are a couple areas where liposuction is not a good option. Liposuction should not be used to reduce puffiness around the eye area. A better option for this might include laser resurfacing, chemical peels or fillers, which may improve skin tone, tighten the skin and rejuvenate the area safely. Eyelid surgery might be needed to reduce puffiness above the eye which can sometimes be more than a cosmetic concern since it can actually interfere with your vision.
In addition, liposuction is not an effective treatment for cellulite (“dimpled” skin) or for loose, sagging skin. If these are your issues, don’t hesitate to speak with your cosmetic surgeon about finding a better, more appropriate solution for those problem areas.
Understanding the Procedure
Liposuction is performed using either IV sedation, local, or general anesthesia. (Your surgeon will determine which type of anesthesia is best for you based on the area or areas being treated.) Then the surgeon will create tiny incisions in the areas to be treated. Tiny tubes called cannulas are then inserted through these incisions to gently suction out excess fat cells, while carefully avoiding the surrounding tissue. (The fat cells are typically loosened either by manual manipulation or with a laser to make suctioning easier and more effective.)
The entire procedure can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours or even a bit longer, depending on the number of areas being treated.
Results Are Permanent, But …
Once fat cells have been removed they’re gone and won’t grow back. However, it’s important to remember that good results will remain that way only as long as you continue to take care of yourself through proper diet and exercise. If you allow yourself to gain a great deal of weight, those fat cells will find their way back into your body and you may find that you’ve developed other problem areas! In other words, liposuction is not a substitute for a healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen! It can produce beautiful results including a more sculpted, refined look — but maintenance of your “new” body is entirely up to you!
Since liposuction is a semi-invasive treatment, you can expect some swelling and/or bruising to occur following the procedure. Your surgeon may recommend compression garments to help reduce swelling and to make you more comfortable during the recovery period.
Bear in mind that today’s liposuction techniques are designed to minimize swelling and discomfort, and as long as you’re being treated by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, recovery can be fairly quick and relatively easy. (Of course, everyone is different, and everyone has their own unique perception of pain and discomfort.) If pain medication is needed, an over-the-counter option such as ibuprofen is typically all that is needed. When you can return to work will depend upon the type of job you have (i.e., less at-home recovery time is needed for more sedentary work).
Since the incisions made are small, scarring is usually minimal and may all but disappear over the course of several months to a year or so.
Your doctor will provide you with detailed instructions outlining what you can or can’t do following the procedure and more fully explaining what to expect while you recover.
Schedule a Consultation
The best way to know whether you’re a good candidate for liposuction is to schedule a consultation with a qualified cosmetic surgeon. He or she will discuss your options, assess your overall health, and make recommendations that are appropriate to your individual needs and goals.
At Find a Better You, serving the St. Charles/St. Louis metro area, we offer state-of-the-art liposuction services as well as a wide variety of other services designed to help you uncover the best “you” possible. Explore your options by scheduling a consultation today. (The fee is just $50 and it can go toward your first liposuction or other fat-removal treatment as long as you schedule your treatment within two weeks from the date of your consultation.) We can even direct you to companies that help with financing, if that is an issue for you.