8 Surprising Facts About Liposuction

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    1. Liposuction Is Not for Obese People
    “Liposuction” is a medical word for fat removal, but it’s not a treatment for weight loss or obesity. In fact, to be a good candidate for liposuction, you should be within 30% of your ideal body weight. Liposuction removes fat deposits that have not responded to exercise and diet. This type of fat is more likely due to genes than lifestyle. To really benefit, you should be fit, active, and a nonsmoker. Discuss expectations with your doctor to make sure they are reasonable.

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    2. Plastic Surgeons and Dermatologists Perform Most Liposuctions
    Liposuction is most often performed by plastic surgeons and dermatologists, according to the Food and Drug Administration. A plastic surgeon specializes in aesthetic and reconstructive surgery. A dermatologist specializes in treating conditions of the skin, hair and nails. Almost any doctor can offer liposuction without completing standardized training. To get the best results, don’t be shy about getting a second opinion or asking about the doctor’s training and experience. HealthGrades can help you find a doctor in your area.

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    3. Liposuction Works by Breaking Up Fat Deposits
    Your doctor makes small incisions in the skin and injects a saltwater-based numbing medication and a medication to control bleeding before fat removal. This technique is called tumescent liposuction. It works by preventing excessive blood loss, swelling, and bruising. After injecting this mixture, the doctor inserts a hollow tube, called a cannula, through the incisions, and uses it to break up fat deposits. A small surgical vacuum or syringe sucks out the fat through the cannula.

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    4. Lasers Help Break Up the Fat
    New additions to liposuction include assisted liposuction with ultrasound or laser. Both of these techniques liquefy fat and make it easier to remove. This may cut down on bruising and swelling and speed recovery. Ultrasound liquefies fat with sound waves, which can be given through the cannula or through the skin. The laser works by heating the fat to liquefy it; laser-assisted liposuction may increase the amount of fat areas that can be treated during a single procedure.

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    5. It May Take a Few Months to See Your New Look
    Before-and-after photos show remarkable results, but results are not immediate. You may need to wear elastic bandages or a compression garment after the procedure to reduce swelling for days or weeks. Your doctor might insert drains to help remove excess fluids. You may not see the final results for a few weeks or even months. If you put on weight after liposuction, fat can show up in new and unpredictable places.

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    6. Liposuction Has Risks That Can Become Serious
    Liposuction is a safe procedure when performed by an experienced plastic surgeon or dermatologist, but it is still surgery. Ask your doctor to explain all of your potential risks and complications. The biggest risk is a blood clot or fat clot that travels through your bloodstream to your lungs or brain. This is very rare, but it can happen. Other more common risks include bleeding, infection, bruising, skin color changes, numbness, and uneven skin contours.

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    7. You May Be Able to Set Up a Payment Plan
    Before you decide to have fat removed from your body, find out how much money is going to be removed from your bank account. Liposuction done for cosmetic purposes is rarely covered by insurance. Most plastic surgeons will set up a payment plan, but you will still be paying for the procedure, anesthesia, use of the hospital or clinic area, medications, and any complications that need to be taken care of. Talk with your surgeon about all the possible costs.

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    8. Fat Cells May Be Future Disease-Fighting Tools
    Liposuction procedures can remove fat from head to toe, including in the cheeks, neck, chest, belly, hips, arms, and legs. It turns out those fat cells might prove valuable in the future. That's because fat cells obtained from liposuction are an excellent source of mesenchymal stem cells, a type of stem cell that can be programmed to create bone, cartilage, muscle, and other tissues. Some early studies suggest that stem cells from fat may help people with heart disease, diabetes, and neurological disease.

8 Surprising Facts About Liposuction

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  1. Liposuction. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction.html

  2. Cosmetic Surgery. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction.html

  3. A new way to make bone: Fresh, purified fat stem cells grow faster, better. UCLA Newsroom. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/a-better-way-to-grow-bone-fresh-234986.aspx

  4. Fat-Derived Stem Cells Show Promise for Regenerative Medicine. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. http://www.plasticsurgery.org/News-and-Resources/Press-Release-Archives/2012-Press-Release-Archives/...

  5. The Skinny on Liposuction. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/downloads/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm143573.pdf

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Feb 3
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.