Liposuction and breast augmentation are the two most common plastic surgery procedures in the world. However, there is “a global misconception about what can be accomplished with liposuction,” says Dr. Kristi Hustak, a board certified plastic surgeon in Houston.
Many patients think that liposuction is a weight loss procedure, but this isn’t exactly the case. Dr. Hustak walks us through what patients can expect to achieve with a liposuction procedure.
Common Misconceptions About Liposuction
Despite its rampant popularity around the world, patients have quite a few misconceptions when it comes to liposuction. The most common are that liposuction is:
- super easy
- an in and out procedure
- able to remove all the fat in the treatment area
- going to produce perfect results
- a substitute for a healthful diet, exercise and weight loss
That said, liposuction is indeed the gold standard for fat removal and body contouring.
Liposuction is Not About Weight Loss
There is only so much fat that can be sucked out of a body. Dr. Hustak will often have a patient come in and say, ‘I’m having a hard time losing weight, can you just suck the fat out?.’ The answer is “no,” but why?
For starters, fat doesn’t actually weigh that much. During a single day procedure, she will limit the amount of fat removed to 5 liters for safety reasons. This only translates to about 12 pounds – not that much when you consider that this is the maximum amount of fat that can be removed in one procedure. Once patients understand this fact, they can become a bit deflated.
Liposuction is About Improving Body Contour
Liposuction is truly about improving your body contour. Though the fat removed may not weigh as much as you’d like, getting rid of it has a hugely beneficial effect on the way your body looks. Strategically removing stubborn pockets of fat and smoothing out the transitions between your waist and upper abdomen or lower abdomen and hips, for example, can make you look taller, leaner and younger. Liposuction is really about restoring proper proportion to the treatment area, whether that be your:
Liposuction = Delayed Gratification
Another hard concept for many patients when it comes to liposuction is that it’s all about delayed gratification. While patients will see some immediate affects, there is an extensive healing phase with liposuction. It takes a good 6 weeks for the bulk of the swelling to go down. Then you are at the, “loosey goosey stage… because you have about two months before the skin tightening portion of liposuction really kicks in,” explains Hustak. It will take at least 3 months before you’ll see your final final results, so patience is a must.
The Best Liposuction Candidates
The best candidates for liposuction are patients who have what’s called stubborn fat deposits. These are people who work out and follow a healthful diet, but who still have a little bit of a Mommy tummy, for example. Patients with these kinds of isolated areas of diet and exercise resistant fatty deposits in the outer thighs or around the bra line are the perfect candidates for liposuction. Ideally, patients should be within 5-10 pounds of a maintainable goal weight.
Skin Elasticity is Crucial
Skin elasticity is crucial when it comes to exemplary liposuction results. Many patients will come in asking whether they are a candidate for a tummy tuck or liposuction: the answer often comes down to the skin. Do you have excess skin? Does it have a lot of stretch marks? Skin that has been stretched and gone down a number of times thanks to childbirth or weight gain/loss is probably not in great shape anymore. In addition, areas of the face and body where the skin is thin don’t tend to do as well with liposuction once you get older. There are good reasons to be conservative in those areas while in other areas, you can be more aggressive.
Liposuction & Non-Invasive Skin Tightening
“I think that as technology is advancing, we’re getting to do some really innovative, neat cutting-edge things,” shares Hustak. “And some of that is combining traditional techniques like liposuction with some of our energy based devices and taking the contouring that we know and changing it and modifying it and making it better.” This new combination approach allows plastic surgeons to almost etch in abs, obliques, pec muscles, deltoids and triceps.
Sometimes, just taking away the fat without the etching can make a patient look “done.” And most patients just want people to think that they’ve been working out more. This etching technique can be performed in a soft manner or a more hard, robust manner depending on what the patient needs. Furthermore, “it’s really fun to do,” says Dr. Hustak.