There are more options than ever before for getting rid of unwanted fat and sculpting your figure into optimal proportions. With social medial, advertising, and common slang, everyone seems to know the terms Liposuction and CoolSculpt® these days. Both procedures have a role in body contouring and the choice between the two is best made in consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon who can partner with you to develop a treatment plan that is best suited to your individual body type, aesthetic goals, budget, and timeline.
What is liposuction?
Liposuction is the gold standard of body contouring procedures and the result against which all others are measured. Liposuction is a surgical procedure that permanently removes fat from stubborn trouble spots that just won’t go away with exercise and healthy nutrition. Typically, liposuction is performed as an outpatient procedure and can be done under general anesthesia or “awake anesthesia” with sedation. The instruments used for the procedure are called cannulas and are thin, hollow metal tubes that are attached to a controlled amount of suction to remove the unwanted fat. A solution that contains saline, numbing medication and a blood vessel constricting medication is injected into the area prior to performing liposuction to help make the fat easier to remove as well as minimize the postoperative discomfort and bruising.
What are common areas for liposuction?
The most common areas where liposuction is performed are the abdomen, flanks (muffin tops), as well as the inner and outer thighs. Other areas that are commonly treated are the upper arms, double-chin, and “bra rolls” on the side of the chest.
How much weight will I lose with liposuction?
This is a bit of a trick question. It is important to realize that liposuction is a body contouring procedure and is not designed as a weight loss option. For the best liposuction results, it is best to be at a comfortable and stable weight for 4-6 months. If your goal is to lose a few pounds before having liposuction, it is best to achieve your goal through exercise and healthy eating and maintain that weight for a few months before having your body contouring procedure. After the postoperative swelling has subsided, you may notice a small difference on the scale of a few pounds. Do not expect to lose 15 or 20 pounds by having liposuction and be wary of any surgeon who tells you that you can.
Will liposuction solve my weight problem?
Although liposuction will permanently remove fat from the areas treated, your body will still store extra calories as fat in other parts of your body. After liposuction, the temptation to fall into bad exercise and eating habits can easily undo your investment in body contouring surgery. Approximately 20% of patients who have liposuction will actually gain weight and weigh more a year after liposuction than before. If you want to maintain your liposuction results, it is important to have well established exercise and eating habits before and after the procedure.
Is liposuction covered by insurance?
No. Liposuction is considered to be a cosmetic procedure and is not covered by insurance. Your surgeon’s office will work with you to provide a price quote that reflects the areas treated, the type of anesthesia used, and the facility fee for the operating room. At Restore SD Plastic Surgery, we offer financing options that can allow you to have your procedure and pay as little at $250 per month.
Can I donate my fat to someone else?
This is a common question and one that draws a few laughs during many consultations. Although fat transfer is a common procedure for breast augmentations and Brazilian butt lifts, it requires using your own fat. Even though the idea is appealing, it is not safe or effective to transfer fat from someone else into your body or donate your fat to another person, even if it is a family member.
There are so many different kinds of liposuction I see advertised. Which one is best?
Every day, it seems as if a new liposuction technology is hitting the market. Everything from Vaser and SmartLipo to Tickle Lipo and SAFELipo is out there. At Restore SD Plastic Surgery, we utilize the SAFELipo technique that uses a powered handpiece to more quickly and efficiently break up and aspirate the fat to be removed. We also use the Vaser system for some patients in whom we need to break up dense fat in the back or flanks. It is important to realize that it is the skill, training, and experience of the surgeon that determines the results of liposuction, not the machine or technology being used.
Suck it all out! How much liposuction can be safely performed at one time?
Safety is our primary concern at Restore SD Plastic Surgery, and we follow evidence-based guidelines established by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The safe maximum for one treatment setting is 5 liters of liposuction. Removing more than this has been shown to significantly increase the complication rate and puts patients at unnecessary risk. If additional treatment is required, it can safely be done at another operative setting usually 3-4 months after the original procedure.
How can I maximize my results from liposuction?
One of the most important parts of getting the best liposuction result is following your surgeon’s post-operative recovery regimen. This typically involves wearing a compression garment for 2-3 months after the procedure to help keep the skin even and smooth while the skin’s natural elasticity shrinks down to fit your restored figure over time. The best results we see are consistently when patients follow directions, wear their garments as directed, and return to more vigorous physical activity as directed over the first couple of months.
Would liposuction be a good choice for me?
Liposuction is a safe, consistent, and reproducible means of treating excess fat and is our preferred method of treatment for most of our patients. Liposuction is effective for both large volumes all over the torso and thighs as well as small stubborn areas that we see in many athletic and fit men and women. When making your decision, it is important to consult with a board-certified surgeon to develop a treatment plan that is customized to your own body, cosmetic goals, budget, and recovery timeline.
What is CoolSculpting®?
CoolSculpting® has increased in popularity over the last few years and utilizes the technology of fat freezing, also known as cryolipolysis. Freezing the fat damages the fat cells and causes them to die. The body’s natural scavenger cells then gradually clear the dead fat cells away from the treated area over time.
How many CoolSculpt® treatments will I need?
The number of treatments required to obtain your desired result will depend on the amount of fat you want to try and remove, the number of areas requiring treatment, and your timeline in which you are trying to achieve results.
How long does it take to see the results of CoolSculpting®?
One of the biggest differences between Liposuction and CoolSculpting® is that liposuction removes the fat at the time of surgery and the results can be seen almost immediately. The results after CoolSculpting® can take 3-4 months or longer to be seen and it make take 3, 4, or even 5 treatments to achieve the results. If you choose to go with CoolSculpting®, be patient. You will see some results, but it may take several months and require several time-consuming treatments.
Is CoolSculpting® a surgical procedure?
No. One of the biggest draws to CoolSculpting® is that it is done as an office-based procedure, has little to no downtime, and does not require anesthesia. As with many non-surgical procedures, the results are not as immediate and not as dramatic.
Who are the best candidates for CoolSculpting®?
In general, patients who have a small, isolated area of excess fat are best served by CoolSculpting®. For men, this usually means fit men with some trouble getting rid of love handles or dealing with an unwanted double-chin. For women, small areas of the inner or outer thighs, double-chin, and small deposits of fat around the belly button. If you have more extensive areas that you want to treat, you are most likely a better candidate for liposuction.
CoolSculpting® seems to be everywhere. Is it really all that?
Great question! That is what the marketing team from CoolSculpting® wants you to think. The reality is that CoolSculpting® does have a place in the continuum of body contouring, but most patients are still best served with traditional liposuction. Many physicians who are not surgeons have purchased CoolSculpting® devices and spend a good deal on marketing to convince patients that it will deliver equivalent results to liposuction. These non-surgeons do not have the skill, training, or experience to perform liposuction, so taking their treatment recommendations is done at your own risk. There is a saying – When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Not every patient is best served with CoolSculpting® and seeing a provider who can ethically and reasonably assess your needs is critical to obtaining your cosmetic goals. We have seen plenty of dissatisfied CoolSculpting® patients who come in for what they needed in the first place – liposuction. Behind closed doors, even most plastic surgeons would tell you that the only reason they bought a CoolSculpting® machine was to bring patients in the door only to tell them that their best results will come from liposuction.
How do I decide between liposuction and CoolSculpting®?
Like all cosmetic procedures, the decision to undergo body contouring is a uniquely individual choice. To help you make the decision that is best for you, it is recommended that you have an in-person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area to discuss your options and customize your treatment plan. At Restore SD Plastic Surgery, we pride ourselves on the consistently excellent results that we achieve with the SAFELipo technique and the VASER technology. When you are ready for a truly amazing experience, look no further than board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus. Visit our liposuction page to learn more and give us a call at 858-224-2281 to book your complimentary consultation today!