Liposuction is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures among women and men in the United States. In 2017, there were more than 400,000 liposuction procedures performed, according to reports. Even so, liposuction is misunderstood. The procedure absolutely will remove fat and recontour the body in the right hands, but it’s not intended for weight loss.
Popular and Misunderstood
Liposuction is considered a work horse procedure in the world of plastic surgery; it’s a ‘go-to’ choice, when it comes to reshaping the body. “Liposuction is something that I do all the time. It’s one of the most popular procedures,” shares Dr. Sean Doherty, a board certified plastic surgeon in Boston, Massachusetts. Even though it’s high on the list for a lot of consumers, some people are still a bit confused about the proper use for liposuction.
“That’s the scariest thing for me is that people think that liposuction is for weight loss,” explains Dr. Chet Mays, a board certified plastic surgeon in Louisville, Kentucky. Even though the procedure has been around for decades, some patients think liposuction can be used to peel off the pounds. “I have patients come in the office all the time and they say they can’t lose the weight and they’ve tried the gym and dieting, so they’re ready for liposuction,” shares Mays. That is the wrong approach.
Weight Loss vs. Body Contouring
If you think you are going to lose a massive amount of fat with liposuction, think again. Liposuction is a body contouring procedure, not a weight loss surgery.
Some surgeons base how much actual fat is removed during a single liposuction session on a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI). Dr. Mays says he discusses this with his liposuction patients. “I use BMI as a determination, but I just stress to them that this is not a weight loss procedure. This is a body shaping procedure,” Mays says BMI is an appropriate way to determine if someone is a good candidate for liposuction.
Mays says it’s important to go into liposuction at a healthy weight, or at least close to your target weight, and realize that liposuction isn’t going to transform your entire body. Experts estimate that a patient loses less than three pounds of fat during a typical liposuction procedure.
Liposuction can deliver significant results, but it’s no magic bullet for weight loss. It’s important to realize that liposuction is a body contouring procedure and won’t transform your entire body. “It’s one of the most challenging procedures to do because it’s all about the expectations,” shares Doherty. Doherty says he sometimes has to advise patients who have too much extra fat in the abdomen or belly that they may need to consider something besides liposuction to improve their appearance. “Diet and exercise is always the answer, because it’s a healthier lifestyle.”
He says sometimes a patient gets the results they are looking for with liposuction to one part of the body, but needs to use more traditional methods in other areas. “Shaping the waist, arms or the lateral thighs might achieve what they are looking for. Then they understand that the fat on the inside of their belly needs to be worked on afterwards in the gym and kitchen.”
Doherty indicates that liposuction doesn’t replace a healthy lifestyle that includes a good exercise plan and a healthy diet. He says for anyone considering body contouring, it’s also important to make plans for a healthy lifestyle to maintain the results.