Liposuction Is Not A Weight Loss Procedure
By Atlanta Plastic & Reconstructive Specialists, on February 24, 2015
Liposuction is a popular plastic surgery procedure that can produce fantastic aesthetic results by reshaping a patient’s figure. Also known as liposculpture, lipoplasty, or simply lipo, the procedure breaks up and vacuums fat from various areas of the body. One common misconception is that liposuction is a weight loss tool, and some patients expect to undergo the procedure to jump-start a weight loss or a lifestyle change.
The Best Candidates For Liposuction
The best candidate for liposuction is one that has already adopted a healthy lifestyle and is within a healthy weight range for his or her size. An overweight individual who has reached longer-term weight stability can be a good candidate as well. In contrast, obese individuals are not good candidates. The risk of complications with almost all types of surgery increase dramatically when the patient is obese, and obesity can interfere so much so with the aesthetic results that the patient will hardly benefit at all from the procedure.
Liposuction is not designed to remove large amounts of fat. In fact, the vast majority of liposuction procedures remove less than 10 lbs. of fat from the body. Removing a larger amount of fat in a single procedure is risky in terms of surgical complications. If a patient needs more fat removal, we recommend that additional fat be addressed in a separate procedure.
The Best Areas for Liposuction
The most common areas to be addressed in female patients are the abdomen and inner and outer thighs. For men, the abdomen and love handles (or flanks) are popular treatment areas. Liposuction is best performed on areas of the body that have been stubborn as far as fat loss is concerned. Since there is no such thing as spot toning, fat can remain in certain areas of the body even after a patient has reached their ideal weight. Areas like the back, knees, and neck can be nearly impossible to address with diet and exercise, and therefore significant improvements can be obtained through liposuction.
Liposuction Removes Fat, But Not Cellulite
Patients are often discouraged upon learning that liposuction cannot remove cellulite (the dimpled, cottage-cheese like appearance of fat). Cellulite results when pockets of fat are constricted by the overlying connective tissues. The bands of connective tissue push the fat into lumps and bumps, pulling the skin down into dimples. Cellulite is equal opportunity and does not discriminate—it affects thin, average, and overweight people just the same. There are procedures (such as laser treatments) that temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite, but unfortunately there is no procedure available to permanently remove cellulite at this time.
A Word About Weight Gain and Aging
Many patients wonder what will happen if they gain weight after liposuction. Because fat cells that are removed do not grow back, the new body shape attained with liposuction is fairly permanent. However, there are some important caveats. With a modest weight gain, the fat cells left behind will grow larger (by accumulating more fat within the existing cells). Since fat accumulates on the body in proportion to the quantity of fat cells in each area, the new shape created by liposuction will remain, although larger.
With a significant weight gain (more than 10% of body weight), new fat cells will develop in all areas of the body, including those already treated by liposuction. In this case, the results of the liposuction will begin to be compromised. Still, relatively less fat accumulates in treated areas than untreated areas. Therefore, the patient will still look better than if the liposuction was not completed, but the results will be less than ideal.
It’s worth noting that liposuction does not stop the aging process. All bodies are subject to the changes brought about by aging, so eventually the shape attained through liposuction will begin to be affected. The normal shifting of body fat and sagging of skin that is the natural result of the aging process will at some point begin to become apparent.
Liposuction is an excellent way to create a new and improved body silhouette for good candidates. While the amount of fat removed is relatively small in relation to the patient’s body weight, the aesthetic results can be quite dramatic. Above all, a successful liposuction procedure occurs when a patient is realistic about his or her expectations and is pleased with the results.
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