Liposuction is one of the most common aesthetic procedures performed in the United States. As plastic surgery has gained popularity, the number of liposuction operations has increased dramatically as well. Liposuction is a realistic and simple way to improve a “problem area” or to sculpt a certain part of the figure. Liposuction works in two phases. In the first phase, excess fat is eradicated during the operation with a “cannula” inserted through a very small concealed incision. In the second phase, the skin and body contour shrinks to assume the new and improved figure. Liposuction is very safe and is performed as an outpatient. The recovery is quick and people can usually return to work in a few days.
There are many different types of liposuction such as tumescent liposuction, radiofrequency assisted liposuction (RFAL, also known as BodyTite and FaceTite), ultrasonic assisted liposuction, and laser liposuction (SmartLipo™). Although there are subtle differences between these types of liposuction, they all work by the same basic principles. During your consultation with one of our San Jose plastic surgeons, he will review all the types of liposuction with you and help you determine the procedure best suited for your needs.
Why People Choose Liposuction
People may choose to undergo liposuction for a variety of reasons. In general, patients often complain about one or more “problem areas” that do not respond to diet and exercise. Liposuction is the ideal modality to enhance these areas, sculpt the body, and define an improved contour. Liposuction can address fat deposits in various areas, including the chin, arms, abdomen, hips, flank, lower back, and thighs.
Liposuction targets the fat and relies on the intrinsic capability of the skin to shrink to the new figure. When there is significant amount of loose skin, liposuction is unlikely to yield an excellent result without combining it with a procedure to treat some of the loose and redundant skin. In fact, liposuction in a poorly selected candidate can make someone look worse. With new advancements in technology, however, radiofrequency assisted liposuction (RFAL) can improve the amount of skin tightening and increase the number of patients who are candidates for this procedure.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction works in two phases. In the initial phase, fat is removed through very small inconspicuous incisions. The contouring that occurs is the selective reduction of fat from areas that are bothersome or problematic. The goal during the initial surgical phase is to contour the body and enhance the figure.
The second phase occurs over the ensuing 3-6 months. The process of fat removal causes the skin to contract and assume the shape of the underlying contour. During this time, the final result will gradually become apparent. Hence, the intrinsic skin quality is incredibly important and plays a large role in the final aesthetic result.
There are different types of liposuction and patients often hear terms thrown around such as tumescent liposuction, ultrasound assisted liposuction, and “SmartLipo™.” All liposuction involves the infusion of fluid to help decrease pain and bruising. Tumescent liposuction refers to the amount of fluid infused relative to the amount of fat taken out. Tumescent liposuction is not exclusive of other types of liposuction, such as BodyTite, FaceTite, ultrasound, or SmartLipo™. These adjuncts serve to disrupt fat cells prior to liposuction. All modalities of liposuction involve the use of cannulas and incisions to treat excess fat. During your consultation, Dr. Liu will review the risks, benefits, and alternatives of each type of liposuction.)
It is important to note that patients should be close to their ideal body weight prior to liposuction. If patients gain weight after liposuction the usual pattern of weight gain may no longer apply because some fat cells have been reduced. Patients may find that the distribution of weight gain is different after surgery. Liposuction should not be used as a method of weight reduction and is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle encompassing proper diet and exercise. The best liposuction results are obtained in patients who have one or more “problem areas” where excess fat persists despite a consistent exercise program.
Your initial consultation will take approximately 30-45 minutes. During this time, Dr. Liu will take a thorough medical history, help you with the decision making process, and answer all of your questions. The goal of the consultation is for you to obtain all the information you need to make an informed decision regarding the different types of liposuction and the alternatives and adjuncts to liposuction.
Approximately 2 weeks prior to surgery, you will have a pre-operative appointment. At this time, you will sign the surgical consent, have photos taken, and receive an information packet. The pre-operative packet includes detailed instructions for before and after surgery. It is important to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and other blood thinning medications for at least two weeks before surgery. Also, do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the evening prior to surgery.
How is Liposuction Performed?
Liposuction typically takes around 30 to 45 minutes for each area to be addressed. Depending on the amount of liposuction, the procedure can be performed under local anesthesia or under general anesthesia with an anesthesiologist present. Dr. Liu always performs liposuction surgery using the latest surgical techniques to achieve a natural appearing result.
What is Liposuction Recovery Like?
Patients go home on the same day as surgery but should have a responsible adult stay with them for 24 hours. The recovery period is relatively rapid with most patients feeling very well by 2-3 days. Strenuous activity should be avoided for 1 to 2 weeks. Dr. Liu will follow you closely during the recovery period and will let you know when you can resume full activities. Mild swelling can last for several weeks, with final results around 3-6 months.
Can I still gain weight after liposuction?
Although the fat cells that are removed during the liposuction procedure cannot grow back, patients should be aware that remaining fat cells in the body can potentially increase in size as a result of unhealthy habits. However, the treated area(s) should still remain proportionally smaller. To maintain optimal results, we strongly encourage patients to eat well-balanced meals and remain active.
Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
There is no specific recommended age or weight for this procedure, but ideal candidates should be in overall good health and have adequate skin laxity. Patients should be at or near their goal weight, but may have some areas of localized fat that has proven to be resistant to diet and exercise. During your consultation with Dr. Jerome Liu or Dr. Tom Liu, a comprehensive exam can be conducted to help determine if liposuction is right for you. In some cases, a tummy tuck may be recommended to achieve desired results.
What liposuction alternatives are available at your practice?
Patients who seek a non-surgical alternative to liposuction may be able to benefit from CoolSculpting®, which is designed to reduce the size of stubborn pockets of fat through the use of a patented cooling technology. Additionally, KYBELLA® can be a good option for individuals interested in getting rid of a double chin or other small pockets of fat without surgery.
We also offer BodyTite and FaceTite—minimally invasive body contouring procedures that combine RF energy (to tighten the skin) and liposuction for enhanced outcomes.
Can liposuction be a weight loss solution?
Liposuction is not intended to be a weight loss surgery or a treatment for obesity. Once a healthy and stable weight has been achieved, though, this procedure can help contour any “problem areas” that have accumulated exercise- and diet-resistant fat, ultimately achieving an improved silhouette.
How soon will I see results?
Some patients notice results immediately, but most patients tend to notice continued improvement as swelling is reduced over time. Most noticeable swelling should subside after a few months, but each patient is different. In your consultation, Dr. Jerome Liu or Dr. Tom Liu can provide you with a better idea of what to expect.
Contact Our Practice
Whatever the reason, liposuction surgery can provide psychological, aesthetic, and personal benefits for the right candidate. To find out if liposuction is right for you, please make an appointment with Dr. Jerome Liu or Dr. Tom Liu.