What is liposuction?
Also known as lipoplasty, liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure used to sculpt the body by removing highly localized areas of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. The fat from the targeted area is suctioned from the body through a small thin tube called a cannula to help patients achieve a slim and balanced body contour.
Most liposuction procedures take less than ninety minutes to complete, but some may take significantly longer depending on the number of sites and how much fat needs to be removed.
Liposuction is one of the safest and most popular cosmetic procedures and is often combined with other procedures to achieve transformational body contouring results. Liposuction can eliminate unwanted pockets of fat from the following areas:
- Love handles
- Saddlebags / thighs
- Breasts (including male breasts)
Dr. Restifo has been performing liposuction for over twenty years and will be candid about whether the procedure will achieve the desired results, with or without the need for other complementary body contouring procedures.
Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
You may be a good candidate for liposuction if:
- Your weight is stable and you are no more than 20 pounds overweight.
- You would like a more well-defined contour in specific areas of your body.
- You have attempted natural weight loss methods, but you still have localized areas of unresponsive fat deposits that are disproportionate to the rest of your body.
- You are in overall good health and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Your skin elasticity is good. Patients with many stretch marks or generally loose or flabby skin may be better candidates for a tummy tuck.
- You have realistic expectations.
Liposuction may be performed alone or can be combined with other cosmetic procedures, such as a tummy tuck, breast reduction, thigh lift, or arm lift to achieve maximum contouring results.
Suck or Tuck: Which Procedure is Right For Me?
The Liposuction Procedure
Liposuction is performed on an outpatient basis and can be performed under local anesthesia. It works by removing fat from your body using suction, much like a vacuum. The steps are:
- Several tiny incisions are made.
- A local anesthetic is injected.
- A small, thin, blunt-tipped tube called a cannula is inserted though small incisions.
- The tubes are moved under the skin to target fat deposits for suctioning.
No stitches are needed after liposuction since the incisions are small enough to heal on their own.
What should I expect after liposuction?
Dr. Restifo will give you special instructions on how to care for your treated area to assist in the healing process.
- Patients may experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort in the treated area.
- You’ll be given prescriptions to help you manage any discomfort or swelling.
- Compression garments or elastic bandages may also be used to help reduce these symptoms while the area heals.
- Patients can return to work and other regular activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually within a few days.
- Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks.
The results of the liposuction procedure may not be visible until after swelling and bruising subside. This may take several months, and results will appear gradually throughout this time.
The body contouring results can be long-lasting for patients who maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. However, if substantial weight is gained after this procedure, the results will likely be altered.
Dr. Restifo’s Approach to Liposuction
Dr. Restifo takes the time during every pre-operative consultation to learn what each patient wants to achieve from liposuction, both for their bodies and for their self-confidence. By listening to what patients have to say and closely examining their contours rather than performing a one-size-fits-all procedure on every person, we provide patients with completely customized treatment that takes into account their specific goals.
Both men and women can benefit from this extremely effective fat reduction technique.
Dr. Restifo stays abreast of new liposuction technologies, including ultra-sound assisted liposuction and laser-assisted liposuction (such as Smartlipo® and Slimlipo®) and he will be honest about the efficacy of new procedures that you might see online or in magazines.
After an initial consultation, patients are fully equipped with the knowledge to make an informed decision about whether or not liposuction will achieve their ideal body contour.
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Frequently Asked Questions – Liposuction
A. There are several different techniques currently available for patients seeking liposuction treatment. Dr. Restifo performs liposuction through a tumescent technique which includes injecting a “wetting solution” with a local anesthetic before surgery, causing blood vessels to constrict, thereby minimizing blood loss and reducing postsurgical pain and bleeding.
A power-assisted cannula may also be used to increase the motion of the cannula, thereby expediting the fat removal. Larger cannulas may be used for larger body areas. These options will be discussed during a personal consultation.
A. Liposuction is highly effective for treating localized areas of stubborn fat that are unresponsive to diet and exercise. There are some limitations to liposuction, however, including:
- It cannot be used as a means for major weight loss
- It will not remove cellulite
- It does not tighten the skin
- Some patients must lose weight before getting liposuction
- Weight fluctuations, aging, and pregnancy can undo the results
A. Prior to your consultation, you will be asked to fill out a complete medical history, which includes information about:
- Medical conditions, both past and present, including any history of high blood pressure, thyroid problems or diabetes
- Current medications, vitamin and herbal supplements
- Previous surgeries, medical treatments, and non-invasive procedures
- Current use of alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs
- Weight fluctuations
- Pregnancies and/or plans for future pregnancies
During your initial consultation, Dr. Restifo will listen to your desires and concerns. If you are planning to lose weight, be sure to mention this in the initial consultation. Also be sure to mention any plans to get pregnant in the near or distant future. It is ideal to stabilize your weight before undergoing liposuction to get the best possible long-term results.
Dr. Restifo will evaluate whether you’re a good candidate for liposuction based on your anatomy, physical health, and aesthetic expectations and will determine a treatment plan accordingly.
At the initial consultation, Dr. Restifo will work with his assistant to measure and photograph the areas on your body that you are considering for liposuction. He will evaluate the following:
- Location and amount of excess skin and fat
- State of your skin tone/elasticity
- State of your abdominal muscles (for abdominal liposuction only)
- Location and state of scars from previous surgeries
Depending upon your goals and medical condition, additional procedures may be recommended in order to achieve the best possible outcome. Dr. Restifo may also recommend a weight loss strategy prior to surgery.
A. Liposuction is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures and is extremely safe when performed under appropriate conditions.
Although liposuction is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any type of procedure. Some of these risks may include:
- allergic reactions
- changes in sensation
- seromas (pockets of fluid) under the skin may form in which draining may be necessary
- temporary irratation of nerves and possible numbness
Though rare, indentations or contour irregularities can sometimes occur with liposuction.
You can minimize potential risks by ensuring you follow Dr. Restifo’s preoperative and postoperative instructions before and after your procedure.
A. Dr. Restifo’s goal is to minimize scarring by making very small incisions in concealed areas whenever possible. However, sometimes incisions cannot be hidden. Fortunately, most liposuction scars are tiny and fade significantly over time.
Can I have liposuction if I’m planning to get pregnant?
It is not recommended since pregnancy will likely undo the benefits of liposuction.
A. Liposuction is performed on an outpatient basis, unless you are undergoing a large volume of liposuction or combining this procedure with others, such as a tummy tuck.
Prior to your surgery, Dr. Restifo will ask you to:
- Stop smoking at least six weeks before undergoing surgery to better promote healing.
- Contact your primary care physician to schedule a preoperative physical for the following tests required for your surgery:
- A recent complete history and physical with medical clearance for surgery and general anesthesia
- Labs complete with CBC, PT, PTT
- Current EKG and report of the reading for patients over the age of 50 or those with a cardiac history
- Any other exam that you or your physician feel is indicated
- Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen, naproxen) and/or herbal supplements that can increase bleeding.
- Fill any prescriptions that were provided prior to surgery (though you won’t need them until afterwards).
- Hydrate well both before and after the surgery for safe recovery.
- Arrange for a ride home after being discharged.
- Plan to have someone to stay with you for at least the first 24 hours following surgery.
Full postoperative instructions can be found under Patient Resources.
A. Liposuction removes most fat cells in each targeted body area long-lastingly. However, many factors can affect your body shape and contours including weight fluctuations, aging, pregnancy, heredity, and lifestyle. The body may also choose to store fat in other locations if your caloric and/or fat consumption is too high relative to your level of physical activity.
In order to maintain long-lasting results from liposuction, patients should be committed to a maintaining a healthy lifestyle indefinitely.
The abdomen is often the site of localized fat accumulation that may result in a bulge or prominence. Many patients are frustrated by their inability to correct this completely with diet and exercise. Liposuction will remove this fat from underneath the skin without leaving significant scars, resulting in an improved abdominal contour.
Recovery times are minimized by this approach as well. However, the skin must have sufficient elasticity to tighten after the fat is removed. Patients with many stretch marks or generally loose or flabby skin may be better candidates for abdominoplasty.
A common area of fat accumulation is the upper lateral thighs, a condition often referred to as “saddlebags”. If the skin tone is good, liposuction can yield excellent results in this area, reducing the bulge and leading to a much better appearance. Incisions are small and recovery time is modest.
Lower Back and Love Handles
Another very common area of fat accumulation is the lower back. Often the skin in this area will re-drape nicely after fat removal, leading to a much improved contour.