The Tipping List
Nip Tuck Tips
What you need to know before and after liposuction
By: Reed Walton
The decision to have a cosmetic surgical procedure is not one to be taken lightly. For most people, it’s a huge financial commitment as well as a physical one. It should be approached with care and education, so you end up with the best results for your body type and procedure.
Here are a few things to look at BEFORE you consider liposuction:
Is it right for me? Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, involves creating a small incision or puncture in the skin and vacuuming fatty tissue out of certain areas of the body in order to sculpt or slim the area. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, ideal candidates for liposuction are adult non-smokers who are within 30 percent of their ideal body weight, but have pockets of fatty tissue that are resistant to diet and exercise. Liposuction is NOT an effective treatment for obesity, cellulite or loose, sagging skin.
Where on my body can I have liposuction? The procedure can be used to diminish fat pockets on many parts of the body, nearly from head to toe. For women, liposuction is popular on the outer and inner thighs, buttocks, belly, lower back and underneath the chin. A doctor may also perform liposuction on the back of the neck, sides or “love handles,” above the knees and the upper arms.
What types of liposuction are there? Giorgio Fisher, an Italian gynecologist, is widely credited with inventing the procedure. Liposuction used to be—and can still be—done under general anesthetic. Tumescent liposuction, a technique invented in California, involves injecting the fatty tissues with large amounts of sterile saline solution into the fatty tissue, and can be done under local anesthetic (the patient is awake during the procedure but the area is numb).
How much does it cost? Liposuction.com says that the cheapest procedure can end up being the most expensive, if an experienced surgeon must correct the work of an inexperienced one. In other words, liposuction isn’t something you can—or necessarily want to—go for the bargain price. Procedure costs can range from $1,200 to $2,000 and above, depending on the area to be treated. The cost includes the surgeon’s time, equipment costs, anesthesiologist costs and often the price of post-surgical garments. Since liposuction is an elective procedure, it isn’t often covered by health insurance. However, most doctors’ offices accept credit card payments, and there are companies that offer financing.
What doctor should I use? Many informative Web sites say that you should only use a board-certified plastic surgeon for your procedures. Not unlike Giorgio Fisher, many obstetrician/gynecologists offer liposuction—the procedure only requires a course of certification. What is most important is that you have seen the doctor’s work—before and after photos of patients—and have heard testimonials from patients who used the doctor of your choice for that procedure. Either way, the doctor will likely have your blood tested pre-surgery to make sure it clots properly, and will prescribe a variety of medications to take before and after the procedure.
What are the risks involved in liposuction? With an experienced and trained doctor, complications are rare, but they do occur. Complications can include persistent pain and bleeding, asymmetrical fat removal, infection, fat clots and even the possibility of a blood clot in heart or lungs, so make certain to take all medications and follow your doctor’s advice exactly.
If and when you decide to have liposuction, here are a few tips that will make the procedure go more smoothly.
Begin all medication according to your doctor’s instructions. You may be required to take anticonvulsant medication (for pain and bleeding) before the surgery, and will most likely be given antibiotics and pain medication for directly after.
Have a friend or relative drive you to and from the office on the day of the surgery. Anesthetics and pain medication may interfere with your ability to drive.
Wear the compression garments your doctor gave you (or asked you to order) You may be required to wear them for up to three months after the procedure. These garments are usually tight nylon and spandex. They help prevent blood clots post-surgery and will also help the skin adjust to your body’s new contours.
Expect swelling and pain in the area post-surgery. Like any surgical procedure, liposuction causes trauma to body tissues, and you will need some time to recover. You will likely have to restrict normal activities, like exercise, until you heal. Depending on the size of the treatment area, you may experience prolonged soreness and swelling, so just take it easy as you recover.
Tell us: Would you consider liposuction?