In sunny San Diego, diet and exercise are excellent ways to maintain a healthy life style, but sometimes you still can’t achieve your goals of a slim shapely figure due to stubborn areas of fat. Liposuction provides a safe and effective means of permanently removing localized excess fatty tissue. Areas of the body that are commonly addressed with liposuction are hips, waist, abdomen, thighs, arms, and breasts. Under the chin, arms, and around the knees are other areas that can benefit from liposuction. For both women and men, liposuction remains the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure with nearly 400,000 procedures performed in the United States last year. It is important to recognize that liposuction is a body contouring procedure and is not designed as a weight loss procedure.
The Best Candidates
- Have good skin tone without excess loose skin
- Are not using liposuction as a weight loss procedure
- Are healthy and not taking any blood thinner medications
- Have localized areas of excess fat amenable to liposuction
- Are motivated to improve your appearance through liposuction
- Are at a stable weight and leading a healthy lifestyle
Several techniques are common and available in the modern performance of liposuction. At Restore SD Plastic Surgery we combine professional expertise, scientifically proven equipment, and established technique to achieve your best result. We utilize the SAFELipo™ technique to safely and consistently offer optimal results. This technique is a means of Separation, Aspiration and Fat Equalization to create a smooth contour and facilitate maximum skin tightening while avoiding tissue injury or contour irregularities. This is our preferred technique at Restore SD Plastic Surgery and feel that it offers the best, safest, and most consistent results.
We don’t believe in gimmicks and we are conscious of the potential risks of using heat generating techniques such as laser, radiofrequency or ultrasound assisted liposuction. These techniques rely on heat to augment the process but lead to thermal tissue damage and inflammation. We know that “smart” liposuction is defined by an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon performing the operation and not the equipment.
Although there are many options for treating stubborn fat deposits, liposuction remains the gold standard. Non-invasive techniques have their place in the spectrum of potential treatments but don’t physically remove the fat cells. Non-invasive results take time and often require multiple treatments. Liposuction is ideal for patients with localized fat deposits that are located in specific areas and associated with minimal overlying skin laxity. Excess fat can create an unbalanced contour and liposuction directly removes this fat with minimal downtime and in a single treatment.
Your Restore SD surgeon will tailor an optimal surgical solution for your specific needs. As always, our goal is to deliver the highest quality surgical result in a manner that individualizes treatment and accounts for the subtle nuances of ideal form.
Liposuction is most often performed under general anesthesia as a stand-alone procedure or combined with other surgeries The surgery can take as little time as 30 minutes or last up to 3 hours depending on the areas treated. Your Restore SD surgeon will make one or more very small incisions in the region to be treated. The next step is to infuse a saline-based solution containing epinephrine and lidocaine to help reduce blood loss and minimize pain. Once the solution has been allowed to set, the surgeon will then proceed with SAFELipo™. This technique is a means of separation, aspiration, and fat equalization to create a smooth contour and facilitate maximum skin tightening while avoiding tissue injury or contour irregularities. SAFELipo™ utilizes power assisted liposuction (PAL®) which decreases surgeon fatigue, improves surgical precision, and reduces tissue trauma. Your Restore SD surgeons have been using the PAL® Liposuction system for over 10 years. We are proud to be the only San Diego board certified plastic surgeons to take this common and effective technique to the next level – SAFELipo™.
The PAL® system is used in all three stages of the SAFELipo™ technique. In the first step, the fat is separated with special cannulas. This loosens the fat and makes the fat removal step more effective. Next the surgeon will remove the fat with small cannulas using the PAL® system. With the PAL® system, fat removal is more safely and effectively accomplished and leads to reduced blood loss and tissue injury during this stage. Once the desired contour has been achieved Fat Equalization takes place. Again, a special cannula is inserted and the remaining fat is dispersed over the treatment area to ensure a smooth result. Lastly, the small incisions will be closed with dissolvable suture and you will be placed in a postoperative compression garment.
After surgery is completed you will be able to go home with a responsible adult who should ideally be able to stay with you during recovery. You will be fitted with a compression garment to support your new and improved contour. This should be worn under your regular clothes for the next 4 weeks to minimize swelling. Although there may be some bruising and swelling immediately after surgery, your newly improved shape will become apparent soon after the surgery. Your figure will continue to improve over the next 3 months. Your recovery will vary depending on the amount of fat reduction and the number of areas treated. Most patients are sore after surgery but do not experience a significant amount of pain. Pain medication and antibiotics will be prescribed for the first week following surgery. While you will be able to shower the next day, you should refrain from intense physical activity for 4 weeks. During the recovery period, you will have follow-up with your Restore SD surgeon and will be guided back to your usual activities. Most complications occur from getting too active too early, so select a surgical date that allows an appropriate amount of time to heal and gradually return to your more vigorous activities. The positive benefits of liposuction can be undone with weight gain – lasting results are enhanced by a continued commitment to healthy living. Happily, most patients are motivated by their new and improved appearance to continue to maintain their new physique.
Commonly Combined Procedures
Although frequently performed as a stand-alone procedure, liposuction is a versatile surgery and can be used to enhance the results of other procedures. Most commonly liposuction is performed with abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and gynecomastia (male breast reduction) surgery. It can be used to improve the results from face lift, a breast lift, or breast reduction. For example, the flanks can be suctioned at the same time as a tummy tuck or a new area such as the thighs can be addressed.
- What happens at my liposuction consultation?
When you arrive at Restore SD Plastic Surgery to discuss liposuction, your Restore SD surgeon will perform a detailed examination as well as review your medical history and any medications you are taking. At your consultation, you will have photos taken with our Vectra 3D imaging system and discuss treatment areas and options while viewing your photos series. With our state of the art Canfield software, potential surgical results can be viewed and adjustments can be made, helping you to visualize possible outcomes.
- Why should I choose Restore SD Plastic Surgery for my liposuction?
The surgeons at Restore SD Plastic Surgery have over a decade of experience with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Drs. Douglas and Gallus are both board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and active members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In addition to being fully credentialed, we take the time to listen to your goals and partner with you to develop the best and safest surgical plan that will optimize your results and leave you looking and feeling your best.
- Why is liposuction for me?
Liposuction can be a major surgical procedure and is not to be considered lightly. Getting rid of those stubborn areas of fat that won’t go away no matter how much you work out can be very rewarding. Liposuction restores the natural anatomic proportion of treated areas and helps tighten the skin. Although non-invasive body contouring is effective in the right patient, no other procedure can remove the excess fat as efficiently. The incisions will vary a little from person to person since everyone is built and proportioned a bit differently. Your Restore SD surgeon will discuss your options and partner with you to develop the best and safest surgical plan to maximize your results.
- How do I choose a surgeon for liposuction?
It is important to ask if your surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. As Board Certified plastic surgeons at Restore SD, we have years of training and expertise in body contouring surgery that cannot be imitated by short courses and alternative certifications. Ensure that your surgeon is proficient in liposuction and capable of handling any complications that may arise. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of 23 members of the American Board of Medical Specialties. These specialties represent the traditional core of fully trained specialists. Alternative boards have cropped up over the last several years to lend legitimacy to incompletely trained or poorly trained practitioners. Accept nothing less than a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery(ASAPS).
- How much time off work should I take after liposuction?
Depending on your profession, you should expect to take 1-2 weeks off from work. You will not be able to perform strenuous activities for 2-3 weeks following surgery. Patients cannot drive while taking narcotic pain medication and should plan to have a friend or family member drive them to and from appointments during the early recovery period.
- How long will the results of liposuction last?
The fat cells that are removed are gone forever, however it is important to continue healthy habits as gaining weight after surgery can affect results. Your remaining fat cells can expand and other areas will gain weight, potentially disproportionately after surgery. The good news is that most patients are motivated by their new improved appearance and continue to stay fit.
- Will liposuction fix my cellulite or wrinkled skin?
Liposuction is not a solution for cellulite. Cellulite is caused by small attachments at different layers in the skin. It is just the way some people are built and even very fit women can have cellulite. There is no magic wand, ointment, or cream that will fix cellulite, but an individualized skin care plan can help. Wrinkled skin can be made worse after liposuction since the underlying volume will be decreased by removal of fat cells. Your Restore SD surgeon will evaluate your skin quality and elasticity to help determine if liposuction is right for you.
- How long is the healing process after liposuction?
Liposuction is a disruptive process and although the contour of the area treated is improved within a few weeks, depending on the amount of fat removed and the areas treated it can take up to 6 months to achieve a final result. Wearing your compression garment as prescribed after surgery will go a long way to achieving that smooth and shapely appearance you want.
- How much does liposuction cost?
The cost of liposuction varies depending on the areas to be treated and the amount of fat to be removed. The other important variable in cost is who is performing the procedure. Liposuction is a surgical procedure and is required by state law to be performed by a licensed physician, not a Physician’s Assistant (PA), Nurse Practitioner (NP) or nurse. Some practices allow this to happen illegally as a means of cutting cost. California does not restrict the type of physician who can perform liposuction. This results in liposuction being often offered at lower costs by physicians with little or no formal training and without board certification. It is more important to seek a surgeon that is qualified, experienced, board certified and with whom you feel comfortable rather than the cheapest deal in town.
- How do I minimize post-operative scarring after liposuction?
Unfortunately, scarless surgery does not yet exist. However this procedure is performed through very small incisions so there are only a few small scars to treat. Your Restore SD surgeons will educate you about scar management postoperatively. A surgical scar will take 9-12 months to fully mature. Your scar will go through changes during the healing process and your Restore SD team will help you manage this part of your recovery. This can consist of sun avoidance, scar massage, scar cream, and fractionated laser treatments.
- What should I do to prepare for liposuction surgery?
If you have close friends or relatives who have had liposuction – start there! A personal story of their journey may guide you to questions to ask your surgeon, and having someone with a shared experience is invaluable. Educate yourself by reading our procedure page and viewing our educational videos. Other sources of information include RealSelf and WebMD.
- I am a smoker – can I have liposuction?
At Restore SD Plastic surgery, we pride ourselves in delivering safe, consistent, and reproducible results. Smoking tobacco or using any nicotine products has adverse effects on wound healing. Your risk of tissue loss, infection, and prolonged incision healing are much higher if you use nicotine. We recommend a nicotine free period of 8 weeks prior to surgery and at a minimum 4 weeks post operatively. We have a simple urinary nicotine test that we complete in the office to help you on your journey to a safe and gratifying surgical experience with us.
- I have Diabetes – what do I need to know about having liposuction?
If you have diabetes it is important to work with your medical team to maintain an ideal HbA1C. Diabetes can increase your risk for prolonged wound healing and certain types of infections. Surgery can be safely performed but requires a coordinated effort from patients, surgeons, and medical doctors to attain outstanding results. There are some instances where your Restore SD surgeon may want to postpone surgery until your diabetes is under better control.
- How soon can I travel after having liposuction?
Having surgery means a commitment to an appropriate recovery. We recommend scheduling your surgery at a time that allows enough time to recover and gradually return to your normal activities. Flying, driving long distances, or leaving the immediate area are not recommended until you have been cleared by your surgeon. If you have specific travel needs or require advice for emergency travel soon after a procedure, please let us know and we will be glad to discuss the details with you.
- How much weight will I lose after liposuction?
Liposuction is a body contouring operation and is not designed as a weight loss procedure. Taking off excess fat can lighten the number on the scale, but that is generally a modest 1-3 pounds. The best results are seen when you have surgery at a healthy weight and are already committed to a healthy diet and a regular exercise program.
Dr. Katerina Gallus and Dr. Trent Douglas discuss the SAFELipo technique and why is our preferred method to deliver consistently excellent liposuction results.