Fat is a fickle friend. While we do want it in our face for that youthful plump, we don’t want it in our abdomen, love handles, or the outer thighs. When it comes to removing this fat, the gold standard continues to be liposuction.
In the hands of a board certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Shaun Parson of Scottsdale, liposuction delivers safe, measurable results. As incredible as liposuction results can be, there are quite a few misconceptions about the procedure. Chiefly, it is important to understand exactly what it can and cannot achieve.
Liposuction is About Body Contour, Not Weight Loss
It turns out that the body develops nearly all of its fat cells by the time we are 8-10 years old. Everyone has a certain amount, but it can be distributed in different ways. For instance, your problem areas may be different than your mother’s or your best friend’s problem areas. For women, the most common areas for excess fat cells are:
- outer thighs/saddlebags
- bra rolls/back
Many patients are under the misconception that liposuction is a weight loss tool. It’s not. In fact, you may only lose a couple of pounds, as liposuction is actually a body contouring procedure. “Liposuction is not a replacement for diet and exercise,” explains Dr. Parson. It’s a way to remove stubborn pockets of fat in order to normalize your contour so that you no longer look out of proportion. Basically, liposuction is a means for restoring harmony and balance to your body.
An added benefit to liposuction is that the fat that is removed from a problem area such as the inner thighs can be put elsewhere such as the buttocks, breasts or face where you may have lost volume over time. This incredible development further broadens the ability of experienced surgeons to more fully contour a patient’s problem areas.
Going are the days when men didn’t feel comfortable seeking out liposuction. Among Dr. Parson’s male clients, the two biggest problem areas are the chest and mid-section. As a board certified plastic surgeon, Parson is focused on reproducible, quality results that are also safe. In general, most surgeons like their patients to have a BMI of 30 or below. However, every patient needs to be assessed individually. 5 liters of liposuction is really the game changer for Dr. Parson where he must ask himself, “Should we be doing this?”.
With his heavier patients, Dr. Parson will often start with diet and exercise, sending them to a nutritionist first before addressing the remaining problem areas of fat with liposuction. Many patients have already gone down this route and even though their BMI is high, they are in good health. Bottom line, if you do decide to move forward with a larger volume liposuction, it needs to be done in the hospital and treated like as major surgery, meaning these patients need to stay overnight.
It’s important for the surgeon to be careful not too go high in terms of volume because that’s where you fundamentally change some of the risks in terms of:
- prolonged recovery
“You need to respect what liposuction can do and use it as a great tool, but don’t overdo it,” explains Parson.
Recovery from Liposuction
Recovering from liposuction is relatively straight forward. The procedures that require a significant amount of recovery time are the ones where the surgeon is fundamentally altering or affecting muscles, like with a tummy tuck. This isn’t the case with liposuction as only fatty tissue is being affected.
The main issues in recovery are going to be deep bruises and swelling. At 3 weeks, patients can return to moderate exercise, but will still be swollen. The swelling won’t go away for a few months, and the amount of swelling is in direct proportion to how much fat is removed. Patients who have a small scale liposuction procedure are going to recover much faster than one who has a larger volume of fat removed. In general, most patients are feeling OK at 7-10 days and are back to all normal activities, including strenuous exercise, at 6 weeks post op.
The biggest issue that most patients have with liposuction is the compression garment. Bottom line, compression garments are a quick way to reduce swelling and get you back on your feet. “Compression garments are like a security blanket,” says Dr. Parson. While he oftentimes has a hard time talking patients into wearing one, he can then have an equally hard time getting them out of one.
While the results from liposuction are permanent, “people can eat faster than I can remove the fat,” says Dr. Parson. It is vital for your surgeon to have a meaningful discussion with you about what liposuction can and can not accomplish. For those ideal patients who are in shape and at a maintainable weight, liposuction is the one tried and true tool to give us back the body we had 15-20 years ago.