If you went around and asked people what liposuction is for, plenty of them would say that it was a surgery designed to help people lose weight. One of the biggest and perhaps the most pervasive myth about liposuction is that it’s a type of weight loss surgery. Because of this, people who are overweight and hoping to drop some pounds often wonder if liposuction is the answer to their struggles.
While you might see the number on the scale drop slightly after liposuction, the truth is that it’s not meant to be a weight-loss tool. Instead, the surgery is designed for sculpting the body and removing stubborn fat. Although losing weight and losing fat might seem like one in the same thing, there are notable differences between the two.
Let’s take a closer look at what liposuction is and what it can do so you can figure out if you’re a good candidate for the surgery.
What Does Liposuction Do?
In the simplest terms, liposuction surgically removes fat from the body. Usually, the fat in question is stubborn and doesn’t respond to exercise or dietary changes.
You probably know the type of fat we’re talking about. It’s the little tummy pouch you have that sticks around no matter what you eat (or don’t eat) or how many miles you run. It’s the underarm fat that remains even after you start a rigorous lifting workout at the gym.
Another way to describe liposuction is as a body contouring surgery. During the procedure, a plastic surgeon will remove fat from designated areas of the body, with the goal of improving the shape, or contours, of those areas. After liposuction, the abdomen will look flatter, the upper arms will look more toned, and the dreaded “muffin top” will be gone.
What’s Involved in Weight Loss?
Weight loss involves more than simply fat reduction. You’ve probably heard it said that you can’t spot reduce or spot train when you’re losing weight. This means that if you have extra fat on a specific area of your body, such as the abdomen or upper arms, you can’t try to directly lose fat from that area with a weight loss plan.
For example, you won’t burn fat from your tummy by doing 100 crunches each night. Doing sets of tricep curls over and over won’t automatically mean that the jiggly fat in your upper arms will melt away. Weight loss is more holistic. When you reduce your caloric intake and increase the number of calories you burn, you’re going to see changes all over your body, not in a single targeted area.
Additionally, weight loss doesn’t automatically mean fat loss. Depending on how you go about losing weight, you are likely to see a decrease in the number on the scale as a result of water weight loss. If you focus on restricting calories, particularly calories from certain types of nutrients, you’re also likely to lose weight because you’re losing muscle.
Eating a healthy diet and exercising are key to weight loss. When you exercise, it helps to focus on both strength training and giving your heart a workout. Cardiovascular exercises, such as cycling, running, or even going for a brisk walk are going to help you reach your weight loss goals.
Should You Have Liposuction?
While liposuction isn’t designed for weight loss, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider it. The surgery is ideal for people who are generally healthy and who are within a healthy weight range. If you’ve been losing weight and are at or very close to your weight loss goal, the surgery can be a good option for resolving your remaining “problem areas.”
Liposuction can be particularly ideal if you’ve lost weight or are otherwise happy with your weight but still notice that there are areas of stubborn fat on your body. A tummy pouch, ‘bat wings’ under your arms, or a muffin top around your middle are all examples of fat that liposuction can target and remove.
What Happens After Liposuction?
Another way that liposuction is different from weight loss is that it results in permanent fat loss. The fat cells that your surgeon suctions away during the procedure are gone for good. Your body won’t make more of them and those cells can’t return.
With weight loss, it’s a different story. As many people know all too well, it’s very easy for the pounds you drop to come creeping back. Regaining lost weight can occur when people don’t stick to their diet or nutrition plan or when they ease up on exercising.
That’s not to say that you won’t develop other areas of stubborn fat after liposuction or that the area you have treated is 100% guaranteed to stay slim and svelte. While the removed fat won’t return, remaining fat cells can become bigger. It’s also possible for fat cells to expand in other areas of the body.
Perhaps the best way to think about liposuction is not as a magic bullet that will help you drop lots of weight and finally get skinny but as a tool you can use to help you get the body you want. After liposuction, it’s important to maintain any dietary changes you made to help you reach your goal weight. It’s also essential that you keep on exercising so that your results stick around for as long as possible.
Whether you’ve been working toward a weight loss goal or are already at your target weight and are tired of stubborn fat deposits, liposuction might be a good choice for you. Dr. Paul Vitenas performs liposuction at his practice in Houston, Texas. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, he can help you determine if the surgery is right for you or work with you to make a plan so that liposuction might be an option in the near future.
To learn more, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Houston’s Dr. Vitenas today. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the doctor is offering patients virtual consultations.