Over the past few years we’ve heard many claims and advertisements talking about lunchtime liposuction or how easy it is to return to work the next morning after a liposuction procedure when using this machine or that technique. In all but a few situations these claims are greatly exaggerated and often misleading.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure that removes fat from underneath the skin. It is one of the most common cosmetic procedures performed in the U.S. and worldwide. During 2011 in the U.S., there were over 320,000 liposuction procedures performed by plastic surgeons. Approximately 40,000 of those were performed on men. Liposuction is a safe procedure with a low complication rate and high patient satisfaction when performed by a board certified plastic surgeon. The vast majority of liposuction cases are performed as an outpatient and the majority of these are performed under general anesthesia.
Once removed, fat cells do not return and they do not reproduce after liposuction. The total number of fat cells one has becomes fixed relatively early in life. So when liposuction removes fat, it also removes fat cells and they do not return. Consequently, the contour improvements that liposuction creates are permanent provided that your weight remains stable. In most areas of your body where there is fat and fat cells, weight increases or decreases cause a corresponding increase or decrease in the size of the fat cells. This is also true of areas where liposuction has been performed because not all of the fat cells are removed. Even after liposuction in an area there are some fat cells left behind. This is done so that the contour in this area blends in with the surrounding parts of the body. These fat cells will enlarge if your weight increases. But fat doesn’t return to these areas alone; it will increase in most parts of your body. So even after weight gain, the contour improvement from liposuction is preserved even if all fatty areas of the body increase in size. But if your weight remains stable, the results will last indefinitely.
Liposuction is not a weight loss procedure and it is not a substitute for healthy diet and exercise. Liposuction is a contouring procedure. It is designed to remove specific unwanted areas of fat accumulation that is resistant to diet or exercise. Typically these areas might include the outer or inner thighs, hips or stomach. Sometimes there is an area of fat under the chin that just won’t go away.
There are a number of different liposuction devices and techniques used to remove unwanted fat. These range from traditional liposuction, power assisted liposuction, ultrasonic assisted liposuction and other devices that incorporate lasers or water steams and some that imply that there is some intelligence associated with the device itself. Although the mechanisms are slightly different, all of these devices mechanically remove unwanted fat and fat cells.
So how is it possible to have liposuction performed at lunch and return to work or go back to work the next morning? The reality is that it is not possible except in all but a few cases. Because liposuction mechanically removes fat and fat cells, there is a certain amount of swelling and occasional bruising that takes place with liposuction. The more liposuction that is performed the more swelling that takes place. It makes very little difference what technique or machine is used for the liposuction. There is some swelling that will take place.
If you are just having just a little bit of liposuction performed under your chin or a very small amount in the inner thighs or hips, then it is possible to have this done under local anesthesia and then go to work later in the day or the next morning. This is, however, the exception rather than the rule. The majority of liposuction cases remove between 1 to 4 quarts of fat. It is rare to do this much liposuction under local anesthesia and difficult to be able to return to work the next morning. Most people with office-type jobs should be able to return to work the following Monday. Earlier than that, the areas where liposuction is performed tend to be too swollen and too sore to allow one to function well.
When you see claims about lunchtime liposuction don’t think it is the machine or the technique that makes it possible. It is only for a very small area of liposuction. The most important factor in the quality of your result and the safety of your procedure is the skill of the surgeon performing your liposuction. Always seek out Plastic Surgeons who are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is the only board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) to certify surgeons in plastic surgery including cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. There is no separate, ABMS-recognized board for any type of cosmetic surgery.