No matter how strictly you adhere to your workout regimen, there are often pockets of exercise-resistant fat that still remain. Liposuction is an incredibly popular and effective cosmetic surgery that can reshape “problem” areas and help you achieve a slimmer, smoother, and more contoured look in virtually any region of the body. At McCormack Plastic Surgery, Dr. Tiffany McCormack—our board-certified plastic surgeon—offers several liposuction techniques that can help you achieve your ideal body contour without significant downtime. 

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a procedure designed to surgically extract fat cells with suction-assisted techniques, thereby smoothing bulges of stubborn fat. The procedure works best for patients who have isolated fat deposits that cannot be addressed properly with dieting and exercise. Fat can be removed from the stomach area, back, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, neck, chin, cheeks, or upper arms. While the procedure can effectively remove localized areas of fat, this fat removal technique is truly a method of body contouring and not intended for overall weight loss. It is important to maintain a healthy dieting and exercise plan after surgery to maintain your results.

What Areas are Treatable With Liposuction?

Liposuction can remove excess fat from virtually any region of the body where dieting, exercise, and toning fail to achieve your desired results. It’s important for the planned liposuction site(s) to exhibit little to no laxity or skin sagging, as natural-looking results are only possible when the skin is able to contract to your new body contour after fat removal. Popular treatment areas typically include the: 

  • Abdomen
  • Inner thighs
  • Hips and waistline
  • Upper arms
  • Chin (submental area)
  • Buttocks
  • Knees
  • Mid-back

The procedure can also smooth common bulges of fat known as “love handles,” “muffin tops,” “bra rolls,” or a “double chin.” The most successful and complementary results are usually achieved when patients are at or near their ideal weight and simply looking to sculpt their physique. 

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck

Liposuction and tummy tuck surgery are two procedures that are often combined when patients seek out body contouring services. While they both have the potential to improve the shape of the abdomen, liposuction and a tummy tuck differ in many respects. As a technique solely intended to address stubborn fat, liposuction is much less invasive than a tummy tuck. The procedure only requires small incisions near the treatment site(s) and does not affect the skin or musculature. In contrast, a tummy tuck is performed to tighten both loose skin and weakened musculature — often benefiting individuals who have a hanging or protruding abdominal profile. With that in mind, tummy tuck surgery (or abdominoplasty) typically requires a large incision made low on the pelvis in order to repair separated abdominal muscles, resulting in a relatively longer recovery period when compared to liposuction. 

Although a consultation with Dr. McCormack is the best way to determine the most appropriate procedure for your needs, a good rule of thumb is to assess the nature of your concerns. If your main goal is to eliminate excess fat, liposuction may be enough to achieve your desired aesthetic. However, if loose skin and/or sagging tissue are present on the targeted area(s), a tummy tuck or dual liposuction plus tummy tuck treatment plan may be the best course of action. 

What Different Types of Liposuction Are Available?

Many different techniques are available with liposuction. Dr. McCormack will spend time discussing these options with you during your consultation to help educate you on terms you may be unfamiliar with, such as liposculpture, the tumescent technique, and mesotherapy. In general, the most common types of liposuction include:

  • Tumescent: Utilized during most liposuction procedures, the tumescent technique involves injecting an anesthetic solution into the planned treatment area(s) to reduce bleeding, discomfort, and swelling during surgery. As a result, patients can typically undergo smoother recovery periods when compared to more traditional types of liposuction. 
  • Suction-Assisted: A standard approach to fat removal, suction-assisted liposuction uses a vacuum device to extract localized fat cells. This technique is generally employed during all liposuction procedures. 
  • Ultrasound-Assisted: Also known as “UAL,” this technique employs ultrasound energy to liquefy fat and facilitate an easier removal process — particularly when extracting large amounts of fatty tissue. 
  • With Renuvion®: Renuvion® can be a successful complement to liposuction for patients seeking to achieve skin tightening benefits along with their fat reduction. Using a combination of radiofrequency energy and helium plasma, Renuvion® can promote new collagen growth and encourage the contraction of loose tissue. 

If you’re unsure which approach would be the most ideal for your goals and body type, rest assured that our team will help you navigate the decision-making process. Dr. McCormack will discuss the benefits and downsides of each technique with you to help ensure you’re well-informed about the procedure. 

How is the Liposuction Procedure Performed?

Each liposuction treatment plan is custom-tailored to suit the needs of the patient. In most cases, liposuction necessitates only small incisions at the targeted areas. A long, thin tube called a cannula is inserted through these incisions and utilized to gently suction out unwanted fat cells. With a well-trained artistic eye, Dr. McCormack is able to sculpt and contour the area for a beautiful silhouette. Liposuction is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, and local or general anesthesia can be used depending on the extent of your treatment plan. Most liposuction procedures can be completed within two hours.

Combining Liposuction with Other Procedures

Liposuction is commonly combined with other procedures such as a tummy tuck or breast surgery. We commonly find that patients have small isolated pockets of fat that never seem to go away no matter how much they exercise. It is usually fairly simple to add a small amount of liposuction to another procedure since you are undergoing anesthesia anyway. Larger liposuction volumes are usually not removed in conjunction with other procedures so that we can minimize your surgical risks. Safety is our number one priority for any procedure.

Combining Liposuction with Non-Surgical Skin Tightening

When patients seek to improve their body contours, the appearance of loose, excess skin very often accompanies the presence of stubborn fat. Fortunately, patients can now address skin laxity at the same time as their liposuction procedure without adding another surgery to their treatment plan! At McCormack Plastic Surgery and M Spa, Renuvion® is an innovative skin tightening treatment frequently combined with liposuction to produce an optimal contour in the treated area(s). With only one minimally invasive incision, Renuvion® is designed to both tighten the skin and rebuild the collagen framework through a unique combination of radiofrequency (RF) energy and helium plasma technology. The effects of Renuvion® often last up to 2.5 years and can help patients achieve sleek, smooth skin to complement their fat reduction. Dr. McCormack would be happy to discuss the possibility of combining your liposuction with Renuvion® during your consultation. 

What Is Liposuction Recovery Like?

The swelling can last four to six weeks, while complete healing from the liposuction surgery takes about three months. Dr. McCormack advocates the use of lymphatic massage following liposuction. Lymphatic massage stimulates lymph flow to more rapidly remove fluid, proteins, and toxins from around the cells back into the bloodstream. The end result is less bruising and less edema to help speed the liposuction recovery process. It is normal to have some numbness in the areas treated by liposuction. This is temporary but may take a full year to completely dissipate. This is one surgery we do where we encourage some activity soon after surgery. The incisions are tiny and therefore do not take long to heal. Bruising is common but temporary.

Patients are required to wear a compression garment (a girdle-like garment that is worn under normal clothing) for 6 weeks. This helps minimize swelling and contour deformities. We are often asked whether patients will gain an inordinate amount of weight elsewhere after liposuction. The answer is generally no. However, some patients find that they do not gain as much weight where the liposuction was performed and therefore, if they gain weight overall, it will show in other places first. We stress the importance of maintaining your weight following liposuction to minimize this possibility.

How Long Do Liposuction Results Last?

The outcome of liposuction can last a lifetime as long your new body contour is paired with a healthy, active lifestyle. The biggest detriment to long-term liposuction results is weight gain after the procedure; therefore, minimizing weight fluctuation through regular exercise and healthy eating is essential to preserving your aesthetic. Barring events like significant weight gain and pregnancy, those who undergo liposuction should be able to maintain the outcome of their enhancement indefinitely. The fat cells removed during liposuction will never regenerate or “regrow,” allowing patients to enjoy long-lasting body sculpting results. 
  

If you are interested in liposuction, we invite you to view our before-and-after photos, which feature many of our Reno liposuction patients’ results. If you would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. McCormack to discuss your options for body contouring, please call us at (775) 284-2020 or fill out our online contact form.

Will I Have Visible Scars From Liposuction?

Fortunately, liposuction utilizes tiny incisions that are virtually undetectable to outside observers once fully healed. Dr. McCormack prioritizes elegant, natural-looking results and will always place incisions in discreet locations whenever possible. She will also provide extensive aftercare instructions following your procedure, which can optimize the healing of your incisions and further increase the likelihood that they will fade and lighten to some degree over time. If you would like to gain a better idea of what you can expect with regard to scarring, we encourage you to explore our liposuction gallery to see examples of previous patients who pursued the procedure.
 

How Much Does Liposuction Cost?

Dr. McCormack custom-tailors each liposuction procedure to suit the needs and goals of each individual. As a result, there is no one price for liposuction. A number of variables are taken into consideration when calculating the cost of liposuction, including the total number of treatment areas, the volume of fat removed, the geographic location of the practice, and the experience of the plastic surgeon. While the total cost estimate for each patient is dependent on the complexity of their personalized treatment plan, rest assured that a member of our team will fully break down the ultimate cost of surgery prior to the start of any treatment. For patients who could benefit from low monthly payments with low- to no-interest rates, McCormack Plastic Surgery offers several flexible financing options.

What Are the Most Common Liposuction Side Effects?

As with most surgeries, mild swelling, bruising, and soreness can be expected after liposuction. Typically, these side effects dissipate quickly and oral pain medication can be used to easily manage any post-operative discomfort. Though uncommon, patients may experience temporary numbness, changes in skin color, or skin irritation at the incision site. Patients may also notice some scarring, though these marks are usually very discreet and should fade with time. Immediately after liposuction, the skin may appear uneven or loose. In most cases, the appearance improves with the skin’s natural contraction around your new body contours.

The best candidates for liposuction are typically at or near their ideal weight. Dr. McCormack cautions patients who are obese or who plan on having large volumes of fat removed that their risk of complications after surgery is increased. Patients who have pre-existing heart or blood conditions may not be good candidates for liposuction. Dr. McCormack will carefully review all the risks of the procedure with each candidate during the consultation process, allowing them to make informed decisions about their health and body.

Are There Any Non-Surgical Liposuction Alternatives?

While liposuction can be very effective at excising unwanted fat, Dr. McCormack does offer liposuction alternatives for patients seeking a non-surgical method of fat removal:

  • CoolSculpting®: CoolSculpting® is a popular alternative to liposuction that can be used to treat nearly any area of the body, including the abdomen, flanks (love handles), knees, thighs, buttocks, upper arms, neck, and chin. Designed to remove stubborn fat in targeted regions through controlled cooling technology, CoolSculpting® “freezes” and breaks down fat cells to the point of elimination. Since there is little to no downtime associated with CoolSculpting®, this option may be ideal for patients who wish to remove smaller, isolated pockets of fat without the recovery time liposuction entails.
  • KYBELLA®: KYBELLA® is a liposuction alternative designed to remove excess fat beneath the chin. This injectable procedure can target and reduce this accumulated fat to improve the appearance of a “double chin” and create a more defined profile.

During the consultation process, Dr. McCormack will perform a physical exam, discuss your personal cosmetic goals, and help you determine which body sculpting treatment option might best suit your needs.

Additional Liposuction FAQs

Can you still gain weight after getting liposuction?

Although liposuction can remove pockets of excess fat, the procedure does not eliminate the possibility of future weight gain. Fat cells surrounding the treated area(s) can still enlarge, so maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle is necessary to preserve your results. Liposuction in general is not designed to be a weight loss procedure, so goals involving long-term weight reduction are typically best fulfilled through bariatric treatment.   

Will liposuction get rid of gynecomastia? 

Fatty tissue is usually only part of what contributes to overdeveloped male breasts, so unfortunately liposuction may not be enough for patients to flatten their chest contours. In most cases, visible breasts in men consist of both fat and glandular tissue; therefore, a combination of liposuction plus excision techniques are often necessary to completely resolve gynecomastia. Both approaches can be utilized in a male breast reduction procedure to remove excess tissue and produce a more masculine look. 

How much fat can liposuction remove?

According to research from the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the amount of fat that can be safely removed per liposuction procedure should be assessed based on a patient’s weight, individual needs, and BMI (body mass index), rather than imposing a universal threshold. However, a maximum of 5 L of fat removed at once was traditionally thought of as a general limit to help guide plastic surgeons and patients. 

How long does swelling last after liposuction?

Swelling may persist for one to two months after your procedure, but most patients find that the majority of inflammation subsides during the first few weeks of recovery. Wearing your compression garments for the amount of time prescribed by Dr. McCormack can help reduce swelling and accelerate the healing process. 

Is liposuction safe?

Yes, liposuction is among the safest and most heavily researched cosmetic procedures available for patients who are good surgical candidates. While risk exists with any type of surgery, liposuction has decades of clinical results and scientific research to support its efficacy. Selecting an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon with specialized experience in aesthetic surgery is key to maximizing your safety during liposuction. With a highly qualified cosmetic surgeon who can determine whether you are likely to benefit from liposuction, the risk of serious side effects from the procedure is extremely low. 

To learn more about liposuction, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. McCormack, please don’t hesitate to contact our practice today.