Liposuction (S.A.F.E.Lipo®) and Body Contouring

Liposuction (S.A.F.E.Lipo®) and Body Contouring

Liposuction is a powerful tool used to eliminate those “hard to get rid of” fat deposits. Advanced techniques can also be used to transform unattractive silhouettes into a more desired curvaceous look. Patients often experience newfound confidence and remarkable improvement in their body contour. If you are one of the many people considering liposuction, you probably have questions about the different options available to you and what might be best suited for your particular desires.

“Liposuction is a chance to become the new you. We all have areas that we are tired of battling. Such areas have kept us from wearing certain types of clothes sometimes to the point where our self-confidence is affected. Liposuction is a wonderful way to improve your body contour. Some simply want a small area treated while others may want a more dramatic result. Some of the happiest patients I have are liposuction patients. Many have lived their entire life hiding their body because of the shape and look. The process of S.A.F.E.Lipo® allows me to not only change their shape but change their life. Not only can liposuction make an area smaller, but when it’s done right it can be used to artistically sculpt, shape, enhance and define the natural curves for a more beautiful 360 degree silhouette. “I use S.A.F.E.Lipo®–which I consider to be the new gold standard for body contouring. In my experience it allows for greater volumes of fat removal and overall better results. I would call it the most significant advancement of modern day body sculpting.” — Michael Lee, M.D.

Liposuction Discussion

According to the latest statistics, liposuction is the number one aesthetic procedure for both men and women. It has enjoyed over 25 years of worldwide experience and is now safer with more predictable results than ever before. The best candidates are those of normal weight with isolated fatty areas that are resistant to diet and exercise. Liposuction can significantly improve contour and design a more flattering shape by removing these fatty deposits.

Typically requested for the abdomen and hips, liposuction is also routinely done on breasts, thighs, back, face, neck, buttocks, calves and ankles. Liposuction can be used effectively in conjunction with abdominoplasty, breast lift, buttock lift, or arm lift for best results. Certain facial and neck procedures are further refined using liposuction as well.

Dr. Lee explains, “Adults have a certain number of fat cells. When we gain weight these fat cells get larger. As the fat cells get larger we notice the unsightly increase in volume – maybe it’s the neck area, maybe it’s the bra strap area, or maybe the ever so common muffin top that hangs over our jeans.” Liposuction can be used to reduce these fat bulges when diet and exercise alone don’t seem to be working. “It’s not a weight loss procedure because fat doesn’t weigh as much as bone and muscle” says Dr. Lee, “It’s a body contouring and shaping procedure. We are permanently removing these fat cells from the areas we are treating. By removing them we are able to create the patient’s desired shape and look.

“When liposuction was initially introduced, it was simply used to remove fat from certain areas. Today not only can we remove the fat, but we can place that fat into other areas where it is desired. With this combination of removal and redistribution of fat we can create a much more overall aesthetic figure.”

Those within 30 percent of their ideal weight with good overall health are the best candidates. Ideally you should have good skin tone and limited amounts of fat for the procedure to be successful. Fat that can be pinched is usually suited to be treated with liposuction. Loose excess skin is usually treated with a lift as in arm lift or thigh lift or abdominoplasty. Liposuction is not a weight loss program and it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle post-surgery to reinforce your results.

Liposuction is performed by making a small incision at or near the designated area. A solution is injected and then a cannula (straw-like tube) is inserted to suction out the fat. The resultant scars are barely visible to anyone but the patient. A special garment must be worn for the first 2 weeks after surgery to avoid fluid retention and maximize the skin tightening around the new contour. The second stage recovery requires a gentler compression piece to be worn for an additional 10 weeks.

“Wearing your compression is an essential part of the process. I spend a lot of time sculpting patients to get the best result. The patient has to buy in to the process and wearing compression is part of that process. We are working together to ensure the best possible result.”

Patients will find one of the biggest challenges when seeking liposuction is understanding there are differences between the various types of liposuction and the practitioners who offer them. While it is all identified as the same procedure, there are great differences in approach depending upon the method favored by a particular surgeon. In addition, regardless of the type of liposuction, it is critical to understand the method is not necessarily as important as the surgeon’s technique. Contour irregularities are a common complication when an inexperienced practitioner is performing liposuction. Be sure the surgeon is board certified in plastic surgery and has the training and experience to deliver the best results. During consultation take the time to ask questions about whether you will be satisfied with liposuction alone versus a skin removal surgery such as a tummy tuck, thigh lift, or arm lift. Know if you are a candidate for liposuction versus a non-surgical modality and understand the main differences between the popular varieties of liposuction. See Dr. Lee’s discussion points below.

Often, a new body contour inspires a fresh start, a healthy lifestyle, and encourages patients to maintain their ideal weight. The goal is to make a positive impact on a patient’s life through surgery, but surgery is not the final answer. The patient cannot expect liposuction alone to be a surrogate for diet and exercise. A small percentage of patients who do not commit to adopting good eating habits will eventually gain weight and sacrifice the outcome they enjoyed post-surgery. Dr. Lee can do the surgery, but the patient is the only one who can follow up with necessary lifestyle changes to protect the results.

“I love seeing the results of liposuction but what I enjoy the most is when a patient takes ownership and continues to improve the result. When they build on the liposuction results with a healthy diet and exercise routine. They get so excited about seeing before and after photos – as their surgeon that makes me smile.“

Dr. Lee’s Priorities

Dr. Lee’s main priority when discussing liposuction is understanding exactly what the patient’s concern is and educating them on the options available to treat those concerns either surgically or non-surgically. His goal is always to create an effective treatment plan that accomplishes the patient’s desires while keeping their expectations, lifestyle and budget in mind. There are tradeoffs and limitations with some of the fat reducing treatments on the market. Once a patient is informed of all relevant treatment options, it is up to them to decide the best course of action. Determining the correct treatment plan for his patients is of primary importance to Dr. Lee. He emphasizes that some patients may not want large changes and that is ok. “It’s all about the patient.”

Dr. Lee’s Liposuction Techniques

The technique Dr. Lee favors is S.A.F.E.Lipo®. He explains how this method minimizes complications and maximizes the result. “S.A.F.E.Lipo® is different in that it is a process for improved results.  This means I’m not limited by the technology.  Unlike ultrasound, laser, or radio frequency I can separate the fat cells very selectively and minimize damage to blood vessels and nerves. I can also do more separation than you get with water jet or traditional. S.A.F.E.Lipo® also gives me the opportunity to smooth out any irregular areas after suction is complete – NONE of the other methods allow for this. If I didn’t think it was the best way to do liposuction – I wouldn’t do it. But once you’ve seen the results it’s hard to do it any other way.”

S.A.F.E.Lipo® can be used in circumferential fashion–360 degrees around the trunk to “shrink wrap” the entire waist. It can also be used to treat fat in the bra area, inner and outer thighs, and even shape the buttocks. As an adjunct procedure it can be used with facelifts, neck lifts, breast reduction, breast lift, arm lift and thigh lift. It offers the most consistent means of contouring from one area to other. Dr. Lee’s approach is not limited to “spot treatments” but rather sculpting the front, back and sides to create the ideal silhouette. Not every patient needs a complete trunk liposuction, but Dr. Lee believe in those that do, there is no better way to achieve a fantastic result.

One of the biggest benefits to using S.A.F.E.Lipo® is the quality of the fat removed. The fat has been handled very gently which is extremely important when fat grafting to the butt and other areas. Fat is characteristically unpredictable, and every aspect of how it is handled is important to its survival.

“In my experience, S.A.F.E.Lipo® fat is delivered in its most pristine form and is more apt to “take” when it is placed in areas where volume is desired. Fat grafting can be part of facial rejuvenation, Brazilian butt lift, and hand rejuvenation. Regardless of the location where more volume is desired, the body can now be more meticulously sculpted than in years past with the combination of S.A.F.E.Lipo® and fat grafting.


The Brazilian Butt Lift

One of the essential components of a great result with fat grafting to the buttocks is S.A.F.E.Lipo®. This advanced form of liposuction refines how the fat is harvested, preserved, and reintroduced for optimal outcomes. Fat is very fragile. Traditional liposuction techniques can yield unpredictable results in terms of how much fat “survives.” I worked with the authors of S.A.F.E.Lipo® and have been able to replicate their remarkable results. If a woman wants liposuction and a Brazilian Buttock Lift, I will usually not do a tummy tuck at the same time. We will first see how much the skin responds to liposuction alone. Using a 360 degree “shrink wrap” technique around the waist and torso, I can sometimes get dramatic results and eliminate the need for a tummy tuck. If excess skin is still present after the liposuction, I know exactly how much skin to remove for the best result. With S.A.F.E.Lipo® and a Brazilian Butt Lift I can sculpt a woman’s complete torso and buttock areas to create a beautiful, feminine silhouette.

Liposuction versus a Tummy Tuck

– Liposuction is intended for removal of fat, either in isolated areas or across a more comprehensive area such as the case with the abdomen and waist, resulting in a more aesthetic contour. Both age and pregnancy affect skin’s elasticity. In youth, the abdominal skin more quickly regains its original shape and integrity. As we mature, the skin does not “rebound” as well. Pregnancy affects both the quality and amount of excess skin. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) tightens the abdominal wall muscles and removes excess skin of the abdomen. Doing liposuction on loose skin may remove the fat, but make skin look lax, crepey and wrinkled. Liposuction is often combined with abdominoplasty to achieve a more refined aesthetic silhouette in the waist, hips and flanks. The two procedures do not substitute for one another. In fact, they often complement one another. Each has its place. A tummy tuck re-shapes and removes skin. Liposuction re-contours and removes fat.

Noninvasive treatments

Noninvasive fat melting or freezing devices are very popular. They promise to eliminate fat through ultrasound, cryolipolysis (freezing) and radio frequency– sidestepping surgery altogether. These methods affect only the surface of the fat layer and are not meant to replace liposuction, nor do they deliver similar results. You’ll typically require several treatments (4-6) and each treatment takes between 20 and 60 minutes. They do deliver some result over a period of months, but nothing as dramatic as the results with liposuction surgery.

Cellulite and stretch marks

Liposuction is not intended to get rid of cellulite. In fact, it can make it worse. Cellulite is not fat-it is actually fibrous bands in the dermal layer that pull down the skin creating a dimpled look. There are some new non-surgical devices recently introduced that deliver the best treatment for cellulite. Stretch marks also don’t respond well to liposuction because the skin may not recoil at all when extra fat is removed.

Various Liposuction Techniques

Traditional liposuction simply uses a cannula to suction out the fat that has not been separated. Laser (Smart Lipo®), Ultrasound Lipo, and Radio Frequency Lipo use heat, high frequency pulsing waves and radio frequency energy respectively to remove fat. The potential problem with all 3 of these methods is that they are non-selective–they have the potential to damage tissue such as nerves and blood vessels along with destroying fat. Water jet uses water to help with fat removal. While there is less damage to tissue, there is minimal fat separation. Dr. Lee uses either manual or power-assisted S.A.F.E.Lipo® in which the vibrating cannula allows for easier suction. “S.A.F.E.Lipo® minimizes any damage to the tissues, allows for maximal fat removal and creates a smoother contour with less chance for surface irregularities which is why it is my choice for all my liposuction patients. The results are significantly better–all over the body– than other methods I have used.”


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