Liposuction might seem like a fantasy wish come true. Permanent removal of stubborn fat in just a few hours! Not surprisingly, liposuction is the most commonly performed procedure in all of plastic surgery. Liposuction, performed correctly, can indeed be extremely beneficial for many people.
What bothers me as a practicing plastic surgeon, is that I see cases where liposuction is NOT done correctly and the results can be terribly traumatic for the patient. The purpose of this article is to help you avoid the issues that commonly bring about poor results.
Part of the problem is that too many unqualified people are practicing liposuction while making unrealistic promises. With the huge public demand, many of these pop-up Lipo Centers do a thriving business. Establishing such a business has become easier with advanced tools and technology.
With the advent of new technology, liposuction has expanded beyond the realm of plastic surgery into other medical specialties. Nowadays, a number of general practitioners with no surgical training are performing liposuction in their offices under local anesthesia, loudly promoting it as "safe" liposuction, "non invasive" liposuction or even "non surgical" liposuction. They often deceivingly understate the recovery time by giving it such slogans as Lunch-time Liposuction.
Simple truth is, liposuction is surgery and it is invasive, particularly when some form of additional energy is utilized such as the case with Laser Liposuction. (Sometimes referred to as Smart lipo or Slim lipo, Ultrasonic liposuction by Vaser or Lysonics).
On a technical level, the laser energy disrupts the fatty tissue more aggressively than non-laser lipo and theoretically, it can be extracted more efficiently. The unspoken caveat is that laser lipo can also cause too much tissue disruption, which leads to deformity, particularly in the hands of untrained or unqualified practitioners.
The popularity of Smart Lipo, and the great marketing campaigns promoting it, has led to a wave of unfavorable results that are very hard, if not impossible, to correct. The irony is that the unqualified practitioners who produce these deformities are totally incapable of correcting their shoddy work.
To compound the problem, many patients with the unfavorable results are ashamed to come forward. I truly wish more of them would speak up so it could help future patients be aware and prevent such disasters. I see it in my office though … way too often.
Sucking a little bit of fat might seem like a no-brainer, anybody can do it! The truth is, it takes meticulous study, training and experience to do it well. It takes knowledge of what constitutes an attractive human contour, how to decide when a patient is a good candidate or not, and whether the patient's skin will allow for a good outcome.
With laser-lipo in particular, it takes a sense of what is too much energy, too much suction and too much compression during recovery to prevent permanent damage.
The best results are always obtained during a first surgery done properly, not when trying to correct damage during a second surgery.
At the 2009 ASAPS (American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery) meeting in Las Vegas, emphasis was given to correction of deformities after liposuction. The problem is definitely big enough to warrant such attention.
Talented experts presented difficult cases that were corrected with the use of fat grafting. This type of correction becomes even more challenging when the patient had all the fat already removed in the original defective procedure.
My recommendation is to research thoroughly the competency of the practitioner doing your liposuction. Visit more than one expert, get references from friends and other people that have used them and are satisfied with the results. Ask your doctor if he / she knows how to correct bad results. Don't forget to ask for before and after photos that clearly show improvement.
If you have been the victim of poorly done liposuction, my heart goes out to you. Please know that your situation can be made better if you obtain a high quality doctor.
If you are contemplating liposuction, I warn you to not be too enchanted with the extreme promises made in some advertisements. In the hands of a qualified doctor, liposuction is an exciting, beneficial procedure. Just make sure your doctor is up to the job.