The wonderful thing about body contouring is that there is a procedure to fit any body. Slender patients with just a few pockets of unwanted fat, and larger framed patients who may want a whole area re-contoured, can both benefit from liposuction. And while liposuction is still the gold standard for body sculpting, there are some patients who just don’t want to deal with the downtime of surgery. For them, CoolSculpting, a non-surgical modality for reducing fat, can be a great alternative.
Dr. Richard Zienowicz of Providence, RI discusses the ideal candidate for liposuction, “lunchtime” liposuction and CoolSculpting.
Liposuction is Incredibly Adaptable
The amazing thing about liposuction is that it can, “be applied to any topographical or anatomical area,” explains Dr. Zienowicz. This makes it an ideal procedure for a wide gamut of patients. Thin patients who simply have one or two figure flaws can smooth out small bulges of excess fat, such as on their thighs or stomach. Larger-framed patients can simply slim down everywhere, or at least in their “trouble zones.” This is typically the trunk, but it could also be the arms, knees or ankles.
The most common area for liposuction is probably the flanks. This is the area around the hips that also includes the superior aspect of the buttocks. When you remove the excess fat from around the flanks, it totally re-configures the buttocks, making the curve look better. It also helps to make your waist considerably more narrow. In fact, liposuction of the flanks can actually take 2 to 3” off your belt size. As the buttock area becomes more and more of a focal point for fashion, and the midriff continues to be exposed, this is a great procedure that can open up a whole new world of clothing options for the patient.
There are a number of different techniques when it comes to liposuction. The difference really lies in the way in which the technique aids in the removal of fat. These different liposuction techniques include:
- tumescent liposuction
- laser-assisted liposuction
- ultrasound-assisted liposuction
- suction-assisted liposuction
All are effective, and all use a cannula, or a small, hollow metal tube to loosen the fat beneath your skin and suction it out of the body. The nice thing about liposuction is that it’s a “one and done” procedure. There may be an irregularity or two that will need to be addressed down the line, but this can easily be accomplished in the office under local anesthesia. Once the fat is gone, it is gone for good.
That said, liposuction is surgery. It’s performed under general anesthesia and patients will have a couple of small incisions in the treatment area. Patients will also need to wear a compression garment for a few weeks to reduce swelling and speed along the recovery process.
What is Lunchtime Liposuction?
More and more patients are asking plastic surgeons for what’s called “lunchtime liposuction.” This refers to liposuction performed under local anesthesia. In Dr. Zienowicz’s opinion, this is only an option for patients who have a really small area of extra fat. With them, it’s easy to numb the treatment area with a local anesthetic and then remove the excess fat without causing any discomfort. However, it is not ideal for a larger area. The reason for this is that the cannula might wander out of the “numb” zone, which may hurt the patient. Furthermore, the amount of local anesthetic that would need to be injected to numb a large area can become toxic. It’s just not a safe approach when re-contouring the torso, for example.
CoolSculpting vs. Liposuction
Sometimes, body contouring patients want a procedure that doesn’t involve surgery. Many can’t afford to take the time off work for surgery, while others are turned off by the idea of having to wear a support garment. And some can’t do surgery for health reasons. CoolSculpting is a non-surgical modality for removing excess fat. It is particularly popular with men because it is requires no anesthesia and no downtime. It’s also currently “one of the hottest technologies in the United States,” says Dr. Zienowicz.
It can be quite effective in the right patient, which is someone with only small areas of excess fat. The downside of CoolSculpting is that you won’t see immediate results like you will with liposuction; it takes about 3 months for full results. You are also going to need more than one treatment. On the plus side, it’s a 1-2 hour procedure and then you can go home. Any post-procedure discomfort is minimal and there is no support garment required.
However, for Dr. Zienowicz, liposuction is “far more effective” than CoolSculpting. The cannula allows him to extract fat from the exact area that he wants. “It really is body sculpting,” he explains. With liposuction, he can literally reconfigure your area of concern. One of his favorite areas to treat is the legs, knees and ankles. He can re-contour a woman’s knee and make the ankle slender. This allows women who have been hiding their legs in pants for years to embrace shorts, dresses and above the knee skirts. Liposuction is “an amazing and powerful tool” that can completely change a patient’s life.
Depending on a patient’s current status in life and needs, there are a handful of tremendous options available today to contour the body. For Dr. Z and any patient looking for serious and immediate results, liposuction remains the king of fat removal and body contouring.