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Liposuction Q&A with Dr. C

Diet and exercise alone aren’t always enough to give you the slim, toned body shape you hope for. If you’ve already reached your target weight but still notice stubborn fatty deposits that nothing seems to help, you might be considering liposuction. Although there are plenty of great resources online where you can learn more about lipo, sometimes the most important questions are a little bit more personal. Here, Denver plastic surgeon Dr. Frank Campanile answers to the liposuction questions he hears most often.

If you have a liposuction question that’s not answered below, please feel free to contact us online today to schedule a consultation. Dr. Campanile is a board certified plastic surgeon who focuses on developing a customized approach toward cosmetic surgery that can better help you meet your unique goals.

Q. I’ve read everything about liposuction that I can get my hands on, but I’m still not sure it’s right for me. How can I make up my mind?

A. Deciding to move forward with any cosmetic surgery can definitely be a tough commitment to make no matter how much information you have at your fingertips. If you’ve practically memorized all the pros and cons and have a good idea about the advantages of lipo (as well as its limitations) but still feel unsure, I suggest scheduling a consultation as your next step. This doesn’t mean you’re locked into a date for surgery, but instead lets us discuss liposuction in terms of how the procedure specifically relates to you, your body concerns and your cosmetic goals. For example, I can let you know if liposuction will be able to help reduce your muffin top, or advise you if I think a tummy tuck might be a better option instead. Once you can relate to liposuction on a more personal level, you’ll have a clearer idea of whether you’re ready to schedule your surgery.

Q. I keep hearing mixed advice about whether it’s safe to combine liposuction with a tummy tuck. What’s the real answer?

A. I personally think it’s a great idea to combine the two procedures, for some pretty important reasons: men and women often see superior results and experience faster healing, plus there’s no need for post-surgical drains. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons even reported that combining liposuction with tummy tucks may reduce complications like seroma after surgery. These types of benefits are exactly why I developed the C.L.A.S.S. Drain-Free Tummy Tuck exclusively for my patients. My guess is that a lot of the resources that advise against combining the two body contouring procedures are simply based on outdated or inaccurate data. Today, more surgeons than ever see the advantages that incorporating liposuction with a tummy tuck can deliver in terms of more natural-looking tummy tuck results as well an easier recovery period for patients.

Q. I don’t understand why everyone says liposuction can’t help with my weight loss. Doesn’t lipo physically remove fat cells?

A. While liposuction does remove fat cells, these aren’t the same cells that are usually responsible for significant weight gain. There are two types of fat in the body: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Liposuction removes subcutaneous fat, which lies relatively close to the skin’s surface. However, it’s visceral fat that’s responsible for being overweight. This second type of fat develops internally around the organs, and can only be reduced through diet and exercise. Lipo is best for fine-tuning your body shape by smoothing away love handles or other isolated fatty areas, and isn’t capable of removing enough fat cells to help you lose a large amount of weight.

Q. It seems like every source has a different answer for which type of liposuction technique will give me the best results. Is there any way I can know for sure?

A. It’s perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed by all the liposuction methods out there today. At my practice, I offer two types of lipo:

  1. Tumescent lipo, sometimes called traditional lipo, is considered the “gold standard” of body contouring. Tumescent lipo begins with an injection of a special saline solution that helps loosen cells so I can remove them more easily. The tumescent fluid also contains a local anesthetic to help you feel comfortable and a vasoconstrictor, which helps shrink blood vessels in the treatment area to control and prevent bleeding.
  2. Ultrasonic liposuction, or UAL, uses focused ultrasonic waves to liquefy fat cells for easier removal instead of using tumescent fluid. UAL is tissue-selective, targeting only adipose tissue (fatty tissue), so it’s ideal for use in more fibrous areas such as the back or the male chest.

I wouldn’t say that either approach is inherently better, because each has its time and place. What’s more important than the specific liposuction method used is the surgical skill behind the technique and whether you’re a good candidate for lipo to begin with.

Q. What about one of the alternatives to liposuction that so many med spas offer these days? Could that be an option for me?

A. If you’ve spent any time looking into nonsurgical liposuction alternatives, then you’ve probably also noticed the tendency toward huge inconsistencies from one patient’s experience to the next. Some swear by nonsurgical alternatives as the next big thing while others see zero results and write the latest innovation off as just another gimmick. The bottom line is that blind clinical trials have yet to prove consistent, reliable results from any body contouring gadget that come anywhere close to what’s possible with the proven effectiveness of liposuction. Why waste your time and money on something that may or may not work, when you know there’s an option out there that absolutely will deliver the results you deserve?