When it comes to plastic surgery by the numbers, according to the most recent Aesthetic Society statistics, liposuction takes lead billing with some very impressive leads—not only does it rank number-one for both men and women, but it also falls into the top surgical procedure for the 36 to 70 demographic.
“It is a procedure that has been popular for decades, and it is still the gold standard for fat removal,” says La Jolla, CA plastic surgeon Robert Singer, MD. “There are a lot of wonderful nonsurgical procedures out there that can contour the muscle, but nothing is reliable as liposuction.”
“There’s a myth that if lipo goes in one area the fat will go somewhere else—that’s not true,” he stresses, while offering this simple info to bust that age-old myth: “If you maintain the weight, you maintain the benefit; the fat doesn’t go selectively somewhere else.”
“The vast majority of the people are happy they had it done.”
Plus, which may go without saying, Dr. Singer notes, there is an increased number of people coming in for body-contouring post-CVOID.
“People are more conscious of their body overall, and lipo is one part of what they’re doing,” he says. “The most important part of the procedure is that a prospective patient needs to have a full understanding of the pros and cons and have realistic expectations.”
Eugene, OR plastic surgeon Mark Jewell, MD agrees: “The best candidates are those of nearly normal weight who have localized fat deposits and good skin tone. It is for those who have a program of diet and exercise.”
“Liposuction—either conventional, VASER or power-assisted—is not recommended for obese individuals,” he adds. “Typically, the amount of fat to be removed depends on the areas to be treated and the size of the individual—I set 3,000 ml of lipoaspirate as the ceiling for removal; larger amounts can be risky and require overnight monitoring and IV fluids.”
If you’re still confused by all the different modalities, Dr. Singer admits you’re not alone.
“There’s a lot of different technologies out there, but when you look at clinical data, there’s not too much of a difference between them,” he says. “Individual doctors have their own preferences, and all the technologies have their place. The most important thing to remember is liposuction ins not a weight-loss procedure, as diet and exercise are still very important.”
Los Angeles plastic surgeon Ben Lee, MD tends to agree: “Although a wide variety of patients can benefit from liposuction, the ideal patient is fairly proportionate with one or two trouble areas that they just can’t seem to lose no matter how much diet and exercise they do.”
Dr. Lee also points out that, a recent done by the American Psychological Association, found that more than 40 percent of Americans have experienced unwanted weight gain during the pandemic. This survey reported that the average weight gain was an improbable 29 pounds. It is not surprising that I have seen patients requesting liposuction in multiple areas.”
“Remember, however, that the maximum that can be removed in one session is 5 liters, which is equivalent to about ten pounds of fat at the most. Despite the limit, most patients appear to have lost more weight than that as we can concentrate fat removal in areas that will enhance your appearance the most.”
“The most common area where I perform liposuction is the central trunk, or abdomen and waist. This is a problem for both men and women,” he adds. “Perhaps 75 percent or patients request liposuction in these areas in my practice.”
And then, there is, the combo, as Reno, NV plastic surgeon Tiffany McCormack, MD notes: “I commonly perform liposuction in conjunction with other procedures such as a tummy tucks by incorporating lipo on the back and flanks (sort of a 360 degree approach). I also commonly lipo the submental area, arms and thighs. I have seen an uptick because of my additional use of skin-tightening devices such as BodyTite and Renuvion. These allow for some skin tightening in areas where I am concerned about laxity with lipo alone.”
In that same realm, Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD says that, after adding the noninvasive option of CoolSculpting to her practice a few years back, she’s actually generated more patient interest in liposuction.
“Liposuction is still a technique used to contour the bodies and faces of patients who are struggling with stubborn, excess fat, but who are also near their ideal weight and have good skin tone,” Dr. Jewell stresses, adding that, again, it’s not designed for patients who want to lose a significant amount of weight.
“The best way to determine whether you are a good liposuction candidate is to schedule a consultation with a properly board-certified doctor.”