In today’s world, looking and feeling good means having a fit, well-proportioned body. However, for many people, this may seem like an unreachable goal. Sometimes even a strict diet or a disciplined exercise program can’t conquer stubborn areas of excess fat. For those who seek a smoother or better proportioned body contour, liposuction may be the answer.

Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes deposits of excess fat from specific areas of the body, face or neck. Liposuction can be used to slim the hips and thighs, flatten the abdomen, shape the calves and ankles or eliminate a double chin.

You’ll find basic information about Liposuction in the following pages. However, the best way to get complete answers to specific questions that relate to your individual needs is to have a personal consultation with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Is Liposuction right for me?

Liposuction is most commonly recommended for men and women of normal weight who simply want to improve their body contour. The procedure can produce excellent results for people who have deposits of excess fat that makes certain body areas appear disproportionately large. Although liposuction is not a treatment for obesity, it can permanently alter body proportion and is sometimes the only way to eliminate fat deposits that do not respond to diet or exercise.

People of almost any age may undergo liposuction; however patients with good skin elasticity will achieve the smoothest contour after fat is removed. You may be a good candidate for liposuction if you desire fat removal or contouring in any of the following areas:

  • cheeks, chin and neck
  • upper arms
  • breast or chest area
  • back
  • abdomen and waist
  • hips and buttocks
  • thighs
  • inner knee
  • calves
Liposuction can flatten the abdomen, remove fat from under-arms, eliminate a double chin and contour the face or neck. Liposuction can slim the hips and thighs and provide a more shapely contour for the inner knee, calves and ankles.

It’s important to be clear about a few “cans and can’ts” related to liposuction.

Liposuction can…

  • be performed on several areas of the body at the same time or be done in conjunction with other cosmetic surgery procedures, as long as you understand that there is increased risk and your surgeon feels that having multiple procedures is a safe option for you.
  • be used to treat some cases of gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, which occurs in both teenagers and adult men.

Liposuction can’t…

  • serve as a substitute for dieting and exercise
  • effectively treat cellulite (a condition that gives the skin a dimpled appearance).

Also, certain medical conditions may complicate liposuction. They include diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease and previous surgery near the area to be contoured. It’s important to let your plastic surgeon know if you have had any.

“Love handles” and a large abdomen, typical problems for men, respond well to liposuction. Liposuction can also be used to treat gynecomastia (male breast enlargement).
After Liposuction, you will see a noticeable difference. After swelling and fluid retention have subsided, your results will be even more apparent.

How is Liposuction performed?
To perform liposuction, one or more small incisions are made near the area to be suctioned. Whenever possible, incisions are placed within the natural folds or contour lines of the skin so that they are inconspicuous. The surgeon then places a slim, hollow tube called a cannula through the incision so that its tip penetrates the underlying fat. After the cannula is connected by flexible tubing to suction pump, the surgeon moves the cannula back and forth through the fat, which is vacuumed into the tube.

Several variations to the basic liposuction technique have been introduced. The fat removal technique that best meets your needs depends on a number of individual factors that your surgeon will discuss with you.

  • Your surgeon may use the tumescent technique, in which the fat is pre-injected with saltwater solution containing small amounts of adrenaline and sometimes local anesthetic.
  • Your surgeon may also use ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty or UAL, a two-step technique that uses the energy from sound waves to liquefy the fat before it is suctioned.
  • The type of instrumentation used may also vary. For some areas, a hand-held syringe may be used to provide the vacuum instead of a suction pump.

You may notice that clothes fit more comfortably and you feel more confident about your new, slimmer appearance.

All of this information and pictures have been provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.