How much weight will I lose with liposuction?
Liposuction is not a weight loss procedure. Most people are surprised to learn fat doesn’t weigh very much when compared with skin, muscle and bone. The idea behind liposuction is to remove fat in stubborn areas that do not respond to diet or exercise. It’s designed to contour the body. While you shouldn’t consider liposuction a weight loss procedure, your proportions will be more aesthetically pleasing. I have performed liposuction on patients who wear a size 4 and are at their ideal weight, but were bothered by fat around their tummy or thighs or hips. Think about shape, not weight.
Can the weight come back? Where does the fat go?
Your body has a finite number of fat cells, and these are formed early on and are part of your genetic heritage. The number of fat cells won’t increase, but your fat cells can get bigger or smaller depending on diet and exercise habits. All people have fat cells in particular areas–chin, thighs, tummy, back, love handles, hips. Liposuction essentially decreases fat cells in a particular area with the overall goal being an improved contour. If you don’t like your double chin, we can address that. If your muffin top bothers you, we can correct that. So, let’s say we contour the waist and hip area and later, you gain some weight. You will gain back weight in the area where liposuction was performed, but it will be a much smaller proportion because the number of fat cells has been significantly decreased. It can, however be distributed elsewhere. There is always some fat left behind so the body appears normal and “smooth.” Removing too much fat runs the risk of what we term a “contour deformity.” That’s why it is important to only consult with a Board Certified plastic surgeon that is experienced in liposuction.
I’ve read that I have to be a certain weight or body mass index (BMI) to have liposuction.
General guidelines are important, but numbers don’t tell the whole story. An ideal candidate for liposuction is someone who is a safe surgical candidate with realistic expectations. This is why a consultation is so important. I have seen two patients with identical BMI’s and given completely different recommendations. Part of being a doctor is taking time to listen, observe and address each patient’s concerns. To say I won’t see someone with a BMI over 30 is not a good approach. It’s my role to take each person as an individual—educating them about realistic goals and discussing how we can achieve what they are after, together.
I have rolls of fat on my tummy. Can Iiposuction take care of that?
Much depends upon how much extra, loose skin there is. The prevailing thought is that if you have any excess skin, a tummy tuck is the only option, with liposuction used as an adjunct procedure to refine the contour. My philosophy is to educate patients on what each procedure can deliver in terms of results. First, I listen to the patient and what is important to them. They might realize they have extra skin, but they don’t care. They would rather just remove the fat, live with a little extra skin, and avoid the tummy tuck scar and downtime. In that case I might suggest liposuction only—usually circumferentially around their trunk. Sometimes the skin responds to liposuction enough to avoid a tummy tuck altogether. This approach is best reserved for patients who are on the bubble of a tummy tuck. Certainly if someone comes to me with significant hanging skin, and muscle separation (diastasis recti) which causes a tummy bulge, I would be firm in recommending a tummy tuck along with liposuction. Liposuction doesn’t address significant skin or abdominal wall laxity.