Liposuction is classified as a cosmetic procedure, but is it ever used for anything else?
Cosmetic surgeries of all types have become increasingly popular, not only for women but for men also. In just one year, from 2017 to 2018, the number of procedures done in the U.S., alone, increased by nearly a quarter of a million. Right at the top of that list, running neck and neck with breast augmentation is liposuction.
Also referred to as lipoplasty, lipectomy or simply lipo, liposuction is a surgical procedure that breaks up existing fat cells and removes them from a particular location in the body with a suction process. Developed in the last half of the twentieth century as an improvement in using surgical instruments to actually cut away areas of fat, liposuction is now performed using several different techniques. All of the methods use a small tube, called a cannula, inserted through a tiny incision. The tube is used to break up the fat so that it can then be suctioned out. The most common variations of this procedure are:
- Tumescent liposuction – the most popular type of liposuction incorporates pumping in a local anesthetic to manage discomfort during the surgery and epinephrine to make extraction of fat cells easier and reduce blood loss and bruising.
- Super wet liposuction – this is the same process as tumescent liposuction, the difference being in the increased amount of solution pumped in during the procedure.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) – this type of liposuction uses ultrasonic energy to liquefy the fat before sucking it out. Often used in more fibrous or resistant areas and is considered to be a very precise technique.
Liposuction is not considered to be a weight-loss method or something to take the place of a healthy diet and exercise. Primarily, it is meant for those who have one or more areas of the body that have accumulated additional fat and are unresponsive to diet and exercise. The results are typically more subtle than dramatic but can improve the appearance and increase confidence through slimming, reshaping and re-contouring problem areas.
Additional Benefits of Liposuction
While typically thought of as a cosmetic procedure, liposuction is also used when treating a number of medical conditions. Some of these include:
- Lymphedema – when an issue with the lymph system results in excess fluid buildup, known as edema, healthcare professionals may suggest liposuction to help decrease the swelling and reduce pain
- Gynecomastia – this hormonal imbalance increases the amount of fat in men’s breasts. Liposuction is sometimes recommended as a means of removing the fat without damaging the gland tissue.
- Lipodystrophy syndrome – when this condition causes the normal distribution of fat to be disrupted, liposuction can restore to a more natural appearance.
- Lipomas – used for reducing the size of these benign, fatty tumors.
There can be many reasons for considering liposuction. However, it is not a “miracle” fix, and your own individual experience will be largely based on realistic goals and expectations. This is why it is so important to seek out a board-certified surgeon with extensive training and experience in the exact procedures that you are considering and who will sit down with you and answer all of your questions, including those you may not even think to ask. This should always be the very first step.
Dr. Brian D. Cohen is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with extensive training in cosmetic/reconstructive plastic surgery and has had years of experience performing a wide array of cosmetic surgery procedures, specializing in procedures of the face, eyes, nose, breast and body and is known for his exemplary and compassionate care by his patients. Knowing that Dr. Cohen has been selected by his peers in Super Doctors for 6 years in a row in 2018 gives you the confidence that he is highly respected for his performance in his specialty.
Information on locations and office hours for Cohen Plastic Surgery can be found by clicking here.