Liposuction is a high-demand surgery for many who cannot eliminate fat with exercise and a healthy diet. The cosmetic procedure leaves only minute scars, often as short as one-half inch in length or less. However, doctors say there is still a lot of misinformation out there about the surgery.
First, patients should make sure they have a grasp on exactly what the surgery involves. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), the procedure involves removing diet-resistant fat from various parts of the body through a hollow metal tube inserted into a small incision. Common areas treated with liposuction include the stomach, buttocks, hips, love handles, saddlebags, thighs, calves, ankles, breasts, back, arms and neck.
One of the common myths about the surgery, according to AboutPlasticSurgery.com, is that it is not a "real" surgery. While the incisions are small, general anesthesia is not always necessary and it may be performed on an out-patient basis in various locations such as an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite, the procedure is indeed a surgery.
"Tumescent liposuction (the most common type of lipo) involves injecting large amounts of fluid into the body, which may have unexpected consequence," explained the website. "The process of breaking up and suctioning out fat requires significant disruption of the tissue involved. Finally, the body may have adverse reactions during the healing process. This is a serious surgery and should be treated as such."
Many also believe that liposuction is a good weight loss tool, which doctors say is not the case. While it does remove excess fat and improve the contour of the body, it may not impact weight significantly, as the number of pounds of fat that can be removed from the body is minimal.
Liposuction also won't remove cellulite, contrary to many people's beliefs. Sometimes by removing fat and smoothing an area, the appearance of cellulite decreases, but it is not always the case.
In addition, AboutPlasticSurgery.com says many people believe that once the fat is removed it can't come back, which is only partly true. Liposuction reduces the number of fat cells, but leaves some intact as well. Those that remain after the surgery can get bigger if a patient gains weight, which will affect the long-term outcome.
ASAPS reports liposuction surgery was the most common surgical procedure performed by its members in 2011, with more than 325,000 individuals having it.
While complications from liposuction surgery are rare, it is essential for those considering the procedure to ensure their doctor is a licensed, board-certified plastic surgeon. Those undergoing it should also discuss their recovery with their doctor to ensure a safe and favorable outcome.