Liposuction continues to be one of the top five most popular cosmetic procedures year after year, among both men and women. If you are considering this body contouring treatment and wondering if it could be the right solution for your goals, take a look at this comprehensive guide encompassing everything you need to know about liposuction.
Your Liposuction Consultation
Prior to scheduling a liposuction consultation or two, do some research to find reputable, experienced board-certified plastic surgeons in your area. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, schedule an office visit with your top picks.
Expect to discuss your specific needs and goals in detail, as well as your medical history. Your plastic surgeon should also perform a thorough physical exam to help guide you as to whether or not you could be a good candidate for liposuction.
Keep in mind that the ideal candidate for liposuction and other body contouring treatments will already be at or close to their target weight. You should be in good overall physical health, yet have isolated pockets of subcutaneous or “pinchable” fat that aren’t responding to diet and exercise alone.
Come to your consultation prepared with a list of questions you want to be sure to ask, such as:
- Are you a board-certified plastic surgeon?
- Do you have hospital privileges?
- How many liposuction procedures have you performed?
- Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
- Do you recommend that I combine lipo with any other procedures, such as a tummy tuck?
- Do you have before and after liposuction photos that I can see?
- What are the risks involved?
- What kinds of results can I expect from liposuction?
Prepping for Your Liposuction Procedure
Once you have selected a qualified plastic surgeon for your liposuction procedure, they should go over preparation guidelines with you. Most reputable plastic surgeons will ask that you refrain from smoking for several weeks before and after any surgical procedure, including liposuction.
Tobacco use has been shown to reduce your body’s ability to heal and increases the risk of complications during and after your procedure. Similarly, you will likely be asked to avoid heavy alcohol use leading up to and in the days following your liposuction procedure, as this can also restrict proper healing.
Other liposuction preparation tips include:
- Avoiding certain medications and supplements such as NSAIDS, St. John’s Wort, vitamin E and others. These can thin your blood and pose a risk of bleeding and/or bruising. Your plastic surgeon should provide an inclusive list of which medications and supplements to stop taking ten days prior to your procedure.
- Continue working on your fitness or weight loss goals. The closer you come to your ideal weight prior to liposuction, the better your results can be. Keep in mind, however, that yo-yo dieting is not ideal, as significant weight fluctuations after liposuction can negatively affect your final results.
- Arrange for some extra help. You will need someone to drive you to and from your liposuction appointment, as well as help around the house for the first day or so.
Your Liposuction Procedure
Liposuction is commonly performed under general anesthesia, although local anesthesia may also be used. The size and number of areas being treated will play a role in determining procedure time. In general, liposuction can take anywhere from 30 minutes to three hours to perform.
Liposuction is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, although you will need someone to drive you home afterward. Directly after your liposuction appointment, you’ll be asked to wear a compression garment to help reduce swelling and keep you as comfortable as possible. Your plastic surgeon should send you home with a detailed list of recovery guidelines, as well as prescription pain medication.
Liposuction is a generally safe and effective procedure, although any surgery involving anesthesia carries some risk. However, working with a reputable plastic surgeon who believes that you are in good physical condition prior to your procedure can help to minimize the risk of complications.
The most common temporary side effects include swelling, bruising, tenderness and numbness. These symptoms are typically managed with prescription or over-the-counter pain medications, the use of a compression garment and rest for a few days after liposuction.
Liposuction Recovery and Results
Most people are able to resume their normal activities, including getting back to work within 7 to 10 days after liposuction. While you can see a visible improvement in your body shape shortly after getting lipo, it can take 2 to 3 weeks for swelling to subside. So, don’t be alarmed if your immediate results aren’t what you had imagined, or if the number on the scale seems to be higher than you’d thought.
Generally speaking, you should be able to enjoy your final liposuction results around 6 to 12 months after your procedure, once all residual swelling has dissipated, revealing your new contours.
Dr. Eric Mariotti is a board-certified plastic surgeon who serves women and men throughout the East Bay from his office in Concord. In addition to being a highly trained and experienced plastic surgeon, he offers nonsurgical cosmetic treatments through MSpa, his branded medical spa.