The Surgeon Minute

What’s New in Liposuction?

What’s New in Liposuction?

Who doesn’t love the idea of getting rid of unwanted fat? Particularly fat that seems to resist your healthful diet and gym membership. Liposuction is a surgical procedure to remove unwanted areas of fat, and while the procedure itself has been around for decades, there are some new advancements that make it easier today than it was 10 years ago.

The main difference is a much faster recovery. Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Robert Whitfield of Austin discusses what’s new in the world of liposuction, how liposuction differs between men and women, and why liposuction is still the gold standard in body contouring as compared to growing non-surgical techniques like CoolSculpting.

Reduced Recovery with Liposuction

Most patients love the concept of liposuction: they come in and a plastic surgeon removes their excess pockets of fat, re-contouring the body to a more ideal shape. It sounds perfect, except for the catch – downtime. Traditional liposuction is a surgical operation that comes with significant downtime, requiring time away from a job, limited physical ability and a disruption to the daily routine. For some, like mothers, this is too much to overcome.

Plastic surgeons understand this and have worked to reduce downtime in whatever ways they can. Often, this has to do with superior over mediocre technique. “The trend now is to reduce the amount of downtime in every single procedure” explains Dr. Whitfield. The real difference between 2017 and a decade ago is a faster recovery. Procedurally, things are pretty much the same; the differences really come down the technique used.

Liposuction Under Local Anesthesia

Patients need to get back to work, to raising their children, and to exercising. In fact, getting patients back to their daily life is one of the main motivators for innovation in all plastic surgery, but particularly liposuction.

Liposuction under local anesthesia is a great alternative for patients who only need liposuction in an isolated area such as the love handles. During this procedure, your surgeon will inject a solution of lidocaine, epinephrine and saline into the subcutaneous fat in the treatment area. This numbs the area so that there is no need for general anesthesia. In addition, the volume of the lidocaine causes the tissues to swell and become firm. This makes it easier for the surgeon to remove the excess fat.

Benefits of Liposuction Under Local Anesthesia

This technique, called the tumescent technique, is:

  • extremely safe
  • delivers a great looking result
  • leads to less downtime
  • results in considerably less post-op bruising

Liposuction under local anesthesia can be done in the office – meaning no hospital or operating room. Dr. Whitfield uses a micro-air system to remove the fat. The power-assisted equipment vibrates and almost feels like a mini massage. Furthermore, the vibrations back and forth distract the patient. The result is less discomfort during the procedure.

Since the patient is awake, he or she can let the surgeon know if anything hurts or is uncomfortable. Liposuction under local anesthesia can be performed alone, although Dr. Whitfield will often combine it with a skin tightening procedure such as BodyTite™.

Once the procedure is complete, patients are allowed to return home. In general, most don’t go back to work that day, but are back to their routine within 24 hours. Dr. Whitfield will still put patients in a compression garment for 6 weeks for best results, but this technique has a much faster recovery than traditional liposuction. It’s a great option for the right patient.

Liposuction in Men vs. Women

In the latest survey, one of the top procedures for men is liposuction. The most common areas that bother men are the abdomen, flanks, and love handles. The latter is also a problem spot for many women. For women, however, it’s less about removing fat than it is about the distribution of fat. The transition from the trunk to the hip in a female has to look angled for it to look appropriate.

Liposuction in a woman is often about cleaning up the lines and transitions from the trunk, to the hip, to the butt. This, sometimes known as body contouring with liposuction, is far more than simply removing fat. This is what will give women the waist that they had when they were younger – or even the waist they never had but always wanted!

CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction

Today, there are any number of non-surgical techniques to reduce fat, the most popular being CoolSculpting. While it can be a great option for patients who are really, really busy (as it requires 0 downtime), it can not achieve the same results as liposuction.

Non-surgical fat reduction procedures like CoolSculpting can reduce fat in a specific area, but what they can’t do is sculpt. With liposuction, a plastic surgeon can re-contour multiple areas by removing fat and blending fat to create your ideal torso or backside or arms.

This is the reason that liposuction is the true gold standard when it comes to body contouring. It simply gives the surgeon way more control and ability to contour large areas of the body.

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