Understanding Liposuction Surgery

Frustration with an inability to lose excess weight in certain areas can discourage anyone who wants to improve the shape of the body. Diets and exercise require a dedicated effort that can take a long time to produce noticeable results, and they may not work as efficiently as some people expect. While many people can lose weight by consuming fewer calories than they need, the process of developing a plan and executing it is far from simple. Even when dieting and exercise result in the loss of weight, the combination usually affects the whole body and does not target any specific area.

Healthy eating and activity affect the overall body and can lead to an improved lifestyle. Liposuction offers an alternative approach to eliminating excess fat from the abdomen, upper arms, thighs, buttocks, face, neck, and back that can promptly produce the change in physical appearance that many desire. A primary reason for choosing the procedure is to reshape the areas of the body that make people feel uncomfortable, but it is not to lose weight.

The undesirable accumulation of fat can have a genetic basis that makes it impossible for some people to achieve the appearance that they want. WebMD points out that an inherited condition can prevent the body from receiving signals that indicate fullness, allowing over-consumption that leads to a build-up of fat in the body. The condition can cause problems with high cholesterol, diabetes and a fat build-up in the organs. Medical science offers liposuction as a cosmetic approach to sculpturing contours on the body.

What is Liposuction?

A medical procedure that produces aesthetic changes to the shape of the body, liposuction allows a surgeon to use tools and techniques that can suction out excess fat cells. Areas that tend to respond well to the procedure are usually those that have the most visibility, such as the abdomen and love handles, thighs and knees, hips and buttocks, neckline and chin, chest and upper arms. The operation removes fat cells, but does not address cellulite, obesity, dimples, or stretch marks. Medical News Today indicates that candidates for the procedure are adults who have achieved a stable weight, enjoy good health, and want to change specific contours of the body.

Mayo Clinic cites conditions such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, restricted blood flow, or a weak immune system as disqualifying for the procedure. The extent of the treatment that a surgeon needs to perform to remove excess fat cells usually determines the length of the surgery. Some people can undergo the procedure with local sedation at a well-equipped surgical facility on an outpatient basis while others require a general anesthesia and a stay in a hospital.

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Reasons to Go Under the Knife

Most people choose liposuction for cosmetic reasons that produce changes in contours that may have gotten out of shape over the years. However, there are certain circumstances that can benefit from medical procedures to correct them. These include:

  • Gynecomastia, a condition that allows fat to accumulate beneath a man’s breasts, can cause embarrassment and negatively affect self-esteem. Liposuction can remove the excess fat cells and return the male body to a form that more fully meets conventional expectations.
  • Lipodystrophy syndrome allows fat cells to accumulate disproportionately in some areas of the body. Surgeons can use liposuction to evenly distribute the cells to give the body a more symmetrical and pleasing appearance.
  • Lipomas are benign fatty tumors that may appear in the arms, legs, or upper body when a bit of fat starts growing. An occurrence that is usually harmless, a lipoma may create an unsightly bulge that liposuction can remove.
  • Lymphedema is a long-lasting condition of swelling that results from lymph fluids that collect in some areas. Liposuction can reduce the swelling as well as the discomfort that may accompany it.
  • Weight loss for obese patients can create excess skin that results from the reduction of 40 percent or more of body weight, and liposuction can treat it.

What are Reasonable Expectations of Liposuction Surgery?

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons cites the average cost for liposuction at $3,200 in 2016. However, the prices may vary by the amount of service that a patient receives, treatment area, the experience of the surgeon, and geographic location. The Society’s estimate does not include the use of an operating room or anesthesia.

WebMD indicates that the standard guideline for the amount of fat that surgeons typically removes 11 pounds or less for all patients without regard to body weight or amount of fat. However, some surgeons prefer to base the extent of removal on a patient’s body mass index that takes height and weight into consideration.

Recovery from liposuction allows some patients to return to normal activities within approximately two weeks, but the bruising, soreness, and swelling may take about a month. When a patient gets the treatment on an outpatient basis, the surgery allows a return to a job within a few days.

Alternative Solutions

Northwestern University cites some alternatives to liposuction that do not pierce the skin, and freezing the fat or cryolipolysis is one of them. The fat cells die, and the body absorbs them after a device applies the cold temperature between two cooling plates. The procedure has FDA approval, but its frequency does not yet provide long-term results.

Noninvasive procedures are usually less effective than traditional surgical liposuction. Some of the alternative methods include the use of sound waves that focus high-intensity ultrasound on the fat cells. Low-level lasers can emit light waves to treat the condition, and radiofrequency targets the fat areas with radio waves.

Mayo Clinic points out that the alternatives to liposuction work the best on people who maintain a healthy weight and need only contouring on areas that may not have responded to diet and exercise as much as some may desire.