“Recognize that a procedure, treatment or technique is only as good as the surgeon performing it. Liposuction is not a magic wand unless it is in the hands of an artist, so really get to know whose hands you are trusting.”
On paper, at 5’8” and 124lbs. Teresa seems an unlikely candidate for liposuction. In fact, 124 was Teresa’s high school weight–maintained through two pregnancies and several decades. “Believe me, I feel fortunate that I’ve always been slender. I never had the challenges most women have when it comes to weight.” But Teresa is quick to point out that weight is just a number and as time marches on, that number might stay the same on paper, but not in 3D. “As I tiptoed into my 50’s I felt my weight shift into my middle. My arms and legs looked skinnier but my middle was getting thicker. I joked that if this trend continued I would resemble a Muppet.”
Although she was never a regular at the gym, Teresa decided to commit to an exercise program to build muscle and firm up her tummy. “I’m more of a yoga girl than an aerobic warrior, but I found a total body workout and began to be pretty religious about it 3 days a week.” At 2 months she noticed a difference in muscle tone and after one year, Teresa felt her body looked much better. “I was so pleased with the shape of my arms and legs. They were still thin but had definition for the first time. Unfortunately my midsection didn’t really change at all. The pants and skirts in my closet were getting tight and when I sat down there was a small roll or two. No one would notice, but I was horrified.”
Teresa tried CoolSculpting® a new non-invasive fat freezing device. CoolSculpting® is an in office, FDA approved treatment for the reduction of fat. Results are promised over the course of 3 months as your body slowly releases the fat cells. Sometimes more than one session is required. “It didn’t really make much of a difference for me,” says Teresa.
The tipping point was a family photo session. “The full body pictures definitely showed my middle was square versus an hour glass. From the side, I had no butt, just a pooch in front. The body I loved and took for granted for 50 years was gone.”
After some research, Teresa found an interview given by Dr. Michael Lee on SAFELipo®. “I was intrigued by the sheer range of different liposuction techniques there are on the market. I thought they were all the same. But in that article Dr. Lee discussed how SAFELipo® minimized many of the risks and complications of more traditional approaches.” Still, there was considerable hesitation on Teresa’s part to jump to surgery. “It took me 6 months to even make an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Lee. I felt stupid. I didn’t even tell my closest friends because they would laugh at me since I was always “the skinny one” in the group. Plus I was 59 years old. Who starts sculpting their body at that age?”
At the consultation Dr. Lee assessed Teresa and recommended 360 degree liposuction of the abdomen and back. Although the skin was not as tight as someone in their 30’s, there wasn’t enough skin to warrant a tummy tuck. “There is a quiet confidence and intensity to Dr. Lee’s approach, yet he’s very personable. He made me feel better about my decision to have liposuction by explaining it has more to do with shape, proportion and sculpting than just sucking out fat. And SAFELipo® is a three-step process that lessens the chance of rippling and bumps more easily noticed in the final results of thinner patients. Surprisingly, Dr. Lee said he would be taking a lot off my back right above my buttocks and hips. That never occurred to me.” Surgery was scheduled for December of 2016.
According to Teresa the surgery was low drama and little pain. “The first couple days you are tired and recovering, but it wasn’t terrible for me. The compression garment was a necessary but annoying part of the process. You have to wear it 12 weeks round the clock. I’m glad I did this in winter.”
The results? In a word…”astonishing.” “At 3 months there was a huge difference in my shape. Flat tummy and more remarkable–a curve above my butt. I never had that in my 20’s,” said Teresa. By 6 months Teresa didn’t fit in one single pair of pants or skirt in her closet. “I joked with Dr. Lee that I was going to send him the bill for the alterations of all my clothes. My only regret is that I don’t have a “before” picture in my jeans. Now the rolls have been replaced with one smooth line all the way around the waistband.”
This summer Teresa turned 60 and celebrated in Mexico with a group of girlfriends. “I wore a bikini. When some strangers around the pool learned we were celebrating a 60th, one of them thought I was someone’s daughter. Wow. You can’t put a bow on that.”
Advice she would give to others considering the procedure? “Recognize that a procedure, treatment or technique is only as good as the surgeon performing it. Dr. Lee’s training and experience are quite unparalleled. Liposuction is not a magic wand unless it is in the hands of an artist, so really get to know whose hands you are trusting. Also, SAFELipo® is different. It’s the next generation that offers a significant improvement over more traditional methods. Keep in mind that despite all the new non-surgical “advances” in the market, liposuction remains the most effective means of permanent fat reduction. Ultimately it offers a better (sometimes less expensive) alternative to other noninvasive treatments that over promise and under deliver.”