Post #25 Liposuction – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly...or Kill the Fat, Part 2!
Karen continues her Killing The Fat series by telling us all about Liposuction in Ep #20 of the podcast!
Sick of that wiggle and jiggle when you walk, that squish over the top of your jeans? Flappy arms? Flappy neck? Have you ever considered liposuction? I have. Actually, you don’t have to be “flappy” to want lipo. You can just have some stubborn pockets of fat that don’t respond to exercise or the dreaded age-related neck flap that you want to get rid of. Unlike some of the non-invasive methods of fat removal that I covered on the last episode I hosted, liposuction is permanent and definitely works. It usually requires anesthesia and, yes, it’s invasive (meaning surgery!). However, you don’t necessarily have to be young and already quite fit to be able to get a great result. Is it worth it?
What Exactly is Liposuction?
Liposuction (or lipoplasty) is a surgical procedure that removes fat via suction and is usually done with a thin tube called a cannula that’s attached to a vacuum device. It’s typically used to remove fat from areas that haven’t responded to diet and exercise. It’s also used in the “mommy makeover” procedure to return women to a pre-baby body. And liposuction can even be used to treat gynecomastia (aka man-boobs).
It’s can be used on the abdomen, upper arms, butt, calves and ankles, chest and back, hips and thighs, and chin and neck. So, basically all over your body! The fat can also be removed from one part of your body, purified and transferred to the face, butt, breasts, or wherever you want to create more volume.
According to RealSelf.com you are a good candidate for liposuction if you have a BMI of 30 or below. It’s NOT recommended for a weight loss solution or a cellulite treatment. Apparently, it can even make the appearance of cellulite worse.
According to New York plastic surgeon Dr. John Mesa, in order to be a good candidate for liposuction you need to have good skin elasticity so the skin can snap back to the body’s original shape once the fat is gone. If you don’t have good elasticity, for instance, stretched skin from pregnancy or rapid weight loss, you can be left with saggy, baggy skin.
Liposuction is actually a minimally invasive surgery (but still a surgery) and is done in one session. Unlike the non-surgical treatments I talked about last time. Usually, you are placed under general anesthesia and this depends on how large the area of fat is that you want removed. If it’s a smaller area, local anesthesia can be used. If you’ve had general anesthesia, you will wake up in a recovery room and spend the next few hours in the hospital or clinic. You might even need to spend the night to make sure you don’t end up dehydrated or go into shock from fluid loss.
After the procedure, your surgeon might leave your incisions open and place temporary drains. You will definitely have to wear a tight compression garment for a few weeks to help reduce the swelling and you will most likely be prescribed pain meds and antibiotics. You also might need to wait a few days before returning to work and a few weeks before you exercise.
The swelling usually goes away in a few weeks and will look less bulky and within a few months the treated area will have a much leaner look. Minor swelling, however, can linger for several months and the skin contraction and shrinkage can take six to nine months. You might not see the full results of your surgery for six months to one year later!
Tumescent Liposuction – The most common type
The surgeon makes small cuts in your skin and inserts the cannula under the skin, then connects it to a vacuum that sucks the fat and fluids from your body. Your body fluid can then be replenished through an IV.
Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL)
The surgeon inserts a metal rod under your skin that uses ultrasonic energy that ruptures the fat-cell walls and breaks it down for easier removal. There’s a new UAL called VASER-assisted lipo that improves skin contouring and reduces the chance of skin injuries.
Laser-Assisted Liposuction (LAL)
Uses high-intensity laser light to break down the fat. The surgeon inserts a laser fiber into the skin through a small incision, emulsifies the fat, then removes it with the cannula.
Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL)
The surgeon uses a cannula that moves rapidly back and forth and the vibration allows the Dr. to quickly and easily remove tough fat. Sometimes this technique causes less pain and swelling.
· Your fat is gone!!
· Liposuction can permanently remove small pockets of stubborn fat and larger volumes of fat can be removed in a single session than is possible with the non-surgical procedures like CoolSculpting.
· It allows you to completely reshape your body especially when combined with fat transfer.
· Most people on RealSelf who had the procedure said it was worth it (80%) and that they had more confidence, felt younger, and that it jump-started a healthier lifestyle.
Ok, there seems to be quite a few.
· It’s surgery and it can take a lot of time to heal. You can have one to two weeks of swelling, bruising, numbness and nerve pain.
· Your skin can sag after the fat is removed if you don’t have enough elasticity. You will then need another procedure to remove the saggy skin!
· Asymmetry, dimpling, scarring and lumpiness can occur – especially if your surgeon is inexperienced
· The remaining fat cells can expand or you can form new ones of you gain weight.
The Ugly... According to the Mayo Clinic
· It’s surgery!
· Damages to nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs and abdominal organs.
· Deep vein thrombosis
· Bleeding and reaction to anesthesia
· Contour irregularities – lumps, bumps, waves and damaged, spotted skin.
· Fluid Accumulation – temporary pockets of fluid can form under the skin and may need to be drained with a needle
· Numbness – temporary and sometimes permanent numbness.
· Infection – rare, but possible skin infections that can become severe and life-threatening.
· Internal puncture – Rare, but the cannula can penetrate too deeply and puncture an internal organ.
· Fat Embolism – Pieces of loosened fat break away and travel to the brain or get trapped in the blood vessels or lungs.
· Kidney and heart problems – the shifting fluid levels can cause potentially life-threatening kidney problems.
· Lidocaine Toxicity – can cause serious heart and and central nervous system problems.
· Thermal burn or heat injury – from ultrasound assisted surgery
· The larger the surface, the higher the risks
What does It Cost?
If you still want to do it, the costs will depend on how big of an area you want treated. The price can range anywhere from $1600 to $10,000 with an average of about $6,000. As always, the costs can also depend on the surgeon’s experience, as well as the area you live in.
The Bottom Line
Liposuction seems so common, but it is still a surgery. Do your due diligence, research your surgeon and get at least three consultations! Liposuction, according to plastic surgeon Dr. Jeremy Pyle, has attracted a lot of “poorly qualified non-plastic surgeons who sell themselves as cosmetic surgeons. To get your attention they offer lower prices and specials that seem too good to be true.”
Make sure your surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery, even if it increases your costs!