Got some stubborn fat that won’t seem to go away, no matter what you do? If so, you might have considered some sort of body contouring cosmetic treatment at some point, such as liposuction or Coolsculpting, to get rid of that fat for good.
As you do your research, you might still have some questions about the benefits of surgical fat removal versus non-surgical body contouring. If getting rid of unwanted fat without surgery is an option, why would anyone want to go “under the knife?”
While non-surgical fat removal can be a good option for some patients, it’s not the best bet for everyone. Here’s what you need to know about surgical fat removal, aka liposuction, and how to determine if it’s right for you.
What Happens During Surgical Fat Removal?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure, which means that it does involve the use of incisions and anesthesia. Before the surgery begins, your surgeon will usually give you a general anesthetic, so that you’re completely “under” and asleep for the entire procedure. You won’t feel or remember what went on during the surgery.
The incisions a surgeon makes during liposuction are usually pretty small. For the most part, the incisions won’t be longer than half an inch. The surgeon will then thread a small cannula (a hollow suction tube) into the incisions, which they’ll use to remove the excess fat.
Before making the incisions and inserting the cannula, a surgeon will often inject a fluid containing anesthetic and saline solution into the treatment area to make it swell up and become firm. This is known as the “super wet” technique. The super wet technique allows a surgeon to remove a considerable amount of fat without transfusing blood. Usually, patients have reduced bruising and swelling after super wet liposuction.
How is Liposuction Different From Non-Surgical Options?
The most significant difference between surgical fat removal and non-surgical fat removal is how the fat is taken out of the body. Liposuction physically removes the fat from your body. It’s gone for good after surgery, never to come back.
Non-surgical fat removal, such as Coolsculpting, destroys the fat in the treated area but does not remove it. The body then naturally flushes away the damaged fat cells, reducing the amount of fat in the treated area. Depending on how your body processes the dead fat cells, it can take up to four months before you see final results after a non-surgical fat removal procedure.
Another notable difference between surgical and non-surgical fat removal is the amount of fat that can be removed at once. Usually, you’ll need multiple treatments with Coolsculpting or another non-surgical fat reduction option. With liposuction, a surgeon can treat multiple areas of the body at once and can remove larger amounts of fat from those areas.
Who is a Good Candidate for Liposuction?
Not everyone is a good candidate for surgical fat removal. Like other methods of fat removal, liposuction isn’t meant to help you lose weight. That means that if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s best to try other methods, such as weight loss surgery or changes in your diet and exercise habits.
Once you’ve lost the excess weight or are within 30% of your goal weight range, then you might consider liposuction to get rid of those lingering, stubborn fatty deposits.
There is one issue to keep in mind if you’re thinking about liposuction after losing a significant amount of weight. The ideal liposuction candidate will have skin that’s elastic and able to spring back after the fat is taken out. If you’re dealing with a loss of skin elasticity or with sagging skin after losing a lot of weight, you might consider scheduling a body lift procedure, such as a tummy tuck or back lift, either instead of or in combination with liposuction. Your surgeon can help you choose the surgical procedures that are best for you.
Your health is another factor to consider if you’re thinking about surgical fat removal. Usually, candidates for liposuction must be in good overall health. This means that any chronic conditions should be under control before you move forward with surgery. It also means that you shouldn’t smoke or you must be willing to quit before and after the surgery.
What Should You Do After Surgical Fat Removal?
Liposuction will get rid of unwanted fat. But it’s not going to keep you from gaining weight in the future, nor will it keep remaining fat cells from getting bigger. If you want to keep your new, svelte shape after liposuction, it’s up to you to stick with a healthy diet and exercise plan and to do what you can to maintain your weight and size. You might find that working with a nutritionist and trainer after liposuction is the best way to stay on track.
Want to learn more about liposuction or other body contouring procedures? Dr. Paul Vitenas is a board-certified plastic surgeon who offers a range of body contouring surgeries at his practice in Houston, Texas. To schedule your consultation, call 281-484-0088 today.