Many people work out religiously and then exercise even more, but find that certain areas just didn't get the message to trim down accordingly. Liposuction, or "SmartLipo" depending on the technique used, is especially useful for them or for anyone who wants to reward themselves with a more flattering, streamlined appearance, according to plastic surgeon Elan B. Singer, M.D. with Advanced Dermatology P.C. and the Center for Laser and Cosmetic Surgery.
Permanently removing fat deposits that develop between skin and muscle tissue on many parts of the body, liposuction's ability to offer a slimmer, shapelier physique has skyrocketed its popularity in recent years. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), liposuction replaced breast augmentation in 2013 as the most frequently performed elective surgery, with nearly 364,000 liposuction procedures done, a 16 percent increase.
"Liposuction isn't a fix for obesity or a weight control method, but it can improve appearance and self-esteem for a lifetime when combined with exercise and a proper diet," says Joshua Fox, M.D., medical director of Advanced Dermatology P.C. "When a healthy, active lifestyle doesn't contour your body the way you wish, liposuction is a great tool to finish the job."
Who does liposuction help?
- Although excess fat may collect in different areas in men and women, common locations include the waist, hips, thighs, back, upper arms, buttocks, calves, chin, jowls and neck. Singer notes that those who can particularly benefit from the procedure include:
- Women concerned about fat accumulations after childbirth
- Men who have developed "love handles" above the hips or accumulations of fat over the abdomen or breast area
- Men and women who were significantly overweight but are dealing with stubborn local fat accumulations after losing weight
- Men or women with "double chins" who desire more chiseled jawline definition
Liposuction is typically a two- to four-hour procedure (depending on how large an area is being addressed) usually using local anesthesia. A special tube device called a cannula suctions fatty tissues while the patient rests comfortably. SmartLipo—also known as tumescent liposculpture—uses a small laser to liquefy fat deposits through the top layers of the skin, sealing blood vessels as it melts fat to potentially reduce bruising and swelling. "Liposculpture offers an even more refined result than conventional liposuction since the patient can stand or kneel during the procedure," says Singer. "That allows critical aesthetic adjustments that promote a better outcome."
Preparing for liposuction
Before undergoing liposuction, clients may need to stop smoking as well as to take certain medications or adjust the doses of current medications, says Singer. Lab tests or a medical evaluation may also be needed. Like every surgical procedure, liposuction carries potential side effects. But most of these are minimal, including temporary bruising, swelling, and soreness. The vast majority of patients heal rapidly, going back to work within a few days and returning to most normal activities within a week.
While recovering from liposuction, patients may be directed to wear a compression garment or elastic bandages over treated areas to help control swelling and compress the skin to new body contours. "Sometimes people forget that liposuction is surgery, focusing only on their desired physique," says Singer. "But if clients follow your advice and treat their bodies with care, the end result will be completely worth it. Liposuction can be a gift that keeps on giving."