All Liposuction is Surgery

All Liposuction is Surgery

January 3, 2013
Richard A. Baxter, MD
Seattle, WA

What started out as a fairly simple idea – vacuum out stubborn areas of excess fat – has morphed into an alphabet soup of techniques and technologies.

Smart lipo, Slim lipo, Tickle lipo, power lipo, Smooth lipo, VASER lipo, tumescent, liposculpting, and others, all claiming to be safer, more effective, and with minimal or no down time for recovery. How is the educated consumer supposed to separate the wheat from the chaff and make an informed decision? A survey of board certified plastic surgeons who perform liposuction shows that it need not be so complicated.

Here is a checklist of things to keep in mind if you are considering liposuction:

1. First and foremost, all liposuction is surgery. It is often called a “minimally invasive procedure” which may be correct in a sense but doesn’t accurately convey what actually happens. Skin incisions may be tiny, but the volume of tissue treated is substantial. Though liposuction is a safe procedure when properly done, the risks that exist are those of a surgical operation.

2. Surgery requires anesthesia, and there are 3 main approaches to this:

  • Tumescent – which is a numbing solution injected into the surgical site
  • Tumescent plus intravenous sedation medication – probably the most common method
  • General anesthesia

What is confusing is that all versions of anesthesia involve some version of tumescent technique; it is not a liposuction technique per se. Risks of complications for healthy patients are not dramatically different between these options.

3. Laser-assisted liposuction increases risks, though paradoxically it is often touted as being safer. These are many of the brand-name lipo procedures. The idea is to insert the laser into the fat to sort of melt it before doing the liposuction, and the heat may stimulate some extra tightening of the skin. However, the additional tightening is minimal, and the survey cited at the beginning of this post found that only a tiny fraction (less than 4%) of plastic surgeons feel that the extra risks, cost and time are worth it in terms of patient results. The primary benefit seems to be marketing.

4. Because liposuction is surgery, it should be done in an accredited surgical facility by a qualified surgeon. It is the surgeon’s judgment, experience, and training, not the technology that determines good outcomes.

 

View Comments (1)

1 Comment

  1. Andrew Phil

    January 18, 2013 at 12:25 am

    When you are considering liposuction make sure your surgeon is expert on that. Also cost is an important factor with respect to quality surgery. I will suggest not to go for any discount because sometimes lowest price can be the reason of undesirable outcomes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in

Chest Surgery for Transgender Patients

Top Surgery for Transgender Patients

Patricia McGuire, MDAugust 17, 2017
The limits of plastic surgery.

The Limits of Plastic Surgery

Ned Snyder IV, MDAugust 16, 2017
Avoid the injectables lottery.

Avoid the Injectables Lottery

Craig ColvilleAugust 15, 2017
CoolSculpting: No Fat with No Surgery

CoolSculpting: No Fat with No Surgery

Steven CampAugust 14, 2017
The Silhouette Lift - A non-surgical facelift alternative.

The Silhouette Lift – A Non-Surgical Facelift Alternative

Christine Hamori, MDAugust 11, 2017
In the right hands, injectables can go far.

In The Right Hands, Injectables Can Go Far

Mark A. Pinsky, MDAugust 10, 2017
Patients are digging the drainless tummy tuck.

Patients Are Digging the Drainless Tummy Tuck

Ned Snyder IV, MDAugust 9, 2017
The SKINNY: Why Liposuction Works Great For Fit Bodies

The SKINNY: Why Liposuction Works Great For Fit Bodies

James D. Namnoum, MDAugust 8, 2017
Choosing implants that look and feel natural.

Choosing Implants that Look & Feel Natural

Brooke R. Seckel, MDAugust 7, 2017