Am I a Candidate for Liposuction?

“I’m interested in having liposuction” is something I hear from patients during consultation on a regular basis. But are you a candidate for liposuction surgery.

First and foremost, liposuction is a surgical procedure and patient safety is the number one concern for any experienced, well trained and ethical surgeon who performs liposuction. If there are any patient health issues which could adversely affect patient safety then the answer would be “no”. Some of the conditions which may preclude undergoing an elective procedure like liposuction would be a history of bleeding problems, ongoing serious heart conditions or a recent heart attack, a history of serious wound healing conditions or conditions which make exposure to anesthesia unsafe. Small areas can be addressed by using local anesthetics so the use of general anesthesia can be avoided, but even a local anesthetic could be dangerous for someone with some of the conditions just mentioned. This list is not by any means all inclusive.

Other considerations in deciding if a patient is a candidate for liposuction surgery is the condition of the skin and the amount of fat which needs to be removed. If the skin is of poor elastic quality (ie older patients, someone with alot of stretch marks or who has lost a tremendous amount of weight and has very saggy skin, certain medical conditions of the skin, etc.) then this type of patient may not be a good candidate for liposuction. The skin must be able to retract satisfactorily after the removal of the fat otherwise a poor result will occur. This situation may also occur if there is a very large volume of fat which needs to be removed. In these situations the only reliable way to achieve a good result is by surgical excision of skin and fat. This is commonly performed on patients who have experienced “massive weight loss” and in patients with poor skin tone for whatever reason.

Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction (UAL) has been shown to be beneficial in patients with marginal skin tone who may not be considered a good liposuction candidate otherwise. The reason for this is because UAL causes heating of the deep surface of the skin which in turn induces more skin retraction. I have utilized UAL for the past 12 years and I can attest to its effectiveness in this regard.

Another consideration for patients interested in liposuction surgery is that it does require a significant amount of time to see the final results. Patients must be willing to avoid strenuous exercise/activity and also be will to wear the necessary compression garments for several weeks post op. While a patient will note an improved contour immediately, it will be weeks for the swelling to completely resolve. So don’t expect to have liposuction done tomorrow and expect to be laying out on the beach in a bikini next week. It doesn’t work that way.

Another very important consideration regarding liposuction is patient expectations. Liposuction will not give a patient “Christy Brinkley legs” or a “Brad Pitt six pack” regardless of the bogus advertising which claims as much. Liposuction is not for weight control or a substitute for exercise and a healthy lifestyle. However, liposuction is very effective in contouring areas with moderate amounts of well localized subcutaneous fat which are resistant to diet and exercise.

While there are many additional factors to consider for those interested in liposuction, this is still one of the most widely performed cosmetic surgery procedures , and for good reason….it works!! If you are interested in having liposuction surgery, the only way to know for sure if you are a suitable candidate is to see an experienced and well trained surgeon who routinely performs liposuction. Hope I’ve shed some light on this issue. If you have any specific questions which I have not addressed, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks for you time. Tim Bradley, MD