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Plastic Surgery Myth #4: Liposuction = Weight Loss

myth4Liposuction is a wonderful, reliable, tried and true Plastic Surgery procedure that permanently removes fat cells in a brief outpatient procedure, NEVER to return in the treated area!

However, liposuction is for body contouring rather than for weight loss.  It is not a weight loss method, nor will it result in a significant change on the scale.  Instead, it is to reduce or remove stubborn fat deposits in certain areas of the body that do not go away, no matter how much you exercise, diet or achieve a good level of physical fitness.

Typical areas that are successfully treated by liposuction include the:

  • abdomen or tummy
  • “flanks” – also known as the “muffin top”, “spare tire”, or sides of the trunk
  • inner thighs – the goal often being to achieve a “gap” between the inner thighs
  • outer thighs – often called “saddlebags”
  • hips or top of the waist from behind
  • buttocks – specifically, the roll under the buttock crease  known as the “banana roll”
  • chin and neck
  • sides of the breasts – the “lateral bra roll” or upper back fat
  • armpit fat, known as the “axillary rolls”
  • upper back
  • lower back
  • upper arms

Regions of the body that are NOT normally treated using liposuction include:

  • knees
  • ankles (there is no real treatment for “cankles”, unforuantely!)
  • calves
  • forearms
  • face

The ideal candidate for liposuction is a healthy, physically fit man or woman who has achieved close to their final weight loss goal, or is at a stable and relatively normal weight.  They should be psychologically stable and have realistic expectations about what liposuction can and cannot achieve, and be willing to take up to 3 weeks off exercise and a few days off work for their postoperative recovery.

Another common MYTH about liposuction is that if you undergo this procedure and subsequently gain weight, the fat will “come back in different areas” after surgery .  This is UNTRUE!  Why?  Each of us is genetically programmed to store fat in certain body areas (some of us are “apples”, while others are “pears”).

Most patients who make the commitment to undergo liposuction are motivated to maintain their result, continuing to exercise and have a healthy diet after surgery.  Their results are permanent.  However, there is a theoretical possibility that if you gain significant weight after liposuction (i.e. 20 pounds or more), you could end up looking the SAME as before liposuction, because the areas where you are predisposed to store your fat cells will preferentially expand with additional fat storage.  You will NOT end up storing significant fat elsewhere and end up looking weird or deformed if you gain back weight!

Alternatives to liposuction include the following, depending on the area of the body:

  • CoolSculpting – a novel non-surgical fat reduction method that avoids surgical downtime and involves NO surgery, operating room or anesthesia!
  • Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) – for mothers who are looking to achieve the most significant results in their Mommy Makeover
  • Weight loss through a healthy diet and regular exercise – this may be a valid option for some individuals, but may not completely reduce the stubborn fat deposits treated by liposuction.  However, we encourage each of our patients to achieve their maximal level of physical fitness before any surgery, and to become a “well-oiled machine” before we do any liposuction procedure!

The bottom line is:  visit a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with extensive training and experience in liposuction to learn about which body contouring method is most appropriate for YOU!  Ask to speak to other patients who have undergone the procedure, and be sure to learn about possible risks and complications and what to expect in your liposuction recovery from your prospective surgeon.

View BEFORE & AFTER PHOTOS of liposuction in many different areas of the body in our Liposuction Gallery.

Call 415-923-3067 to schedule a liposuction consultation or contact us via email to request additional information when you are ready to learn more!



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Dr. Karen M. Horton, M.D. - Plastic Surgery, Physicians & Surgeons - Medical-M.D., San Francisco, CA