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Does liposuction help with weight loss?

liposuction weight lossThe short answer is no. The more comprehensive answer is, it depends. It depends on what type of liposuction you are discussing. There are two general categories of liposuction: large volume and small volume. 

Large volume liposuction is performed in patients who are overweight or obese and seeking removal of a large amount of fat. Most plastic surgeons agree that this would be 5 liters of fat or more at one time, about one and a quarter gallons for the non-metric types. Large volume liposuction is not a cosmetic procedure although it may produce cosmetic benefits. It is major surgery and should be done in a hospital setting with overnight monitoring because of the potential for major effects on such things as blood pressure and heart, kidney, and lung function. Deaths from liposuction have been primarily in patients undergoing large volume liposuction. In some patients who are obese and have diabetes, large volume liposuction has been shown to provide some improve in blood sugar control. 

Most liposuction done today removes much less than 5 liters and is done for body contouring. In many cases, the benefit may be seen more in how your clothes fit and how you look, than what you scales show. If you are stable in your weight and have specific areas of concern, then liposuction can help you work towards your goal. 

Liposuction does not remove cellulite, dimples, or stretch marks. It works better in some areas than others. The prime spots for liposuction are the hips, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen in women and the abdomen in men. Liposuction does not work as well in the upper arms, back, or chest. Ideal candidates for liposuction are individuals who are at a good weight for their height, have areas of bulging that cannot be corrected by diet and exercise, and have good skin elasticity. Without the last, removal of fat may leave skin hanging and a worse aesthetic appearance to the area. Attempts to tighten skin using liposuction techniques, such as ultrasound and lasers, have met with mixed success.

There are many forms of liposuction: tumescent, water jet, ultrasound-assisted, and laser-assisted among them. All have both pluses and minuses. None is perfect or good for all patients. 

Liposuction risks include all those risks of any surgery: infection, bleeding, injury to structures in the area of surgery, poor healing, scarring, anesthetic complications, and even potentially life-threatening problems. Serious complications are rare when liposuction is done on carefully selected patients by experienced plastic surgeons. 

Like any other aesthetic surgery, liposuction is not for everyone. It is important to seek out a board certified plastic surgeon to evaluate you and let you know what your options might be, including liposuction. 

Liposuction is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle that should include a balanced, healthy diet; adequate rest; and regular exercise. 


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