Everything You Need To Know About Liposuction

Nicole Karlis on 3 Nov 2013 at 9:00am

woman grabbing stomach everything you need to know about liposuction

Liposuction is a surgical procedure to remove stubborn fat -- the kind that even exercise and diet can't touch. The fat is suctioned from the abdomen, thighs and buttocks through a small tube (called a cannula) that is inserted into the skin.

With a 77% Worth It rating, RealSelfers are always asking if the procedure is right for them. So, we sat down with Dr. Alfredo Hoyos, inventor of High Definition Liposculpture (HDL), and asked everything you need to know.

1. How do I know if I’m a good candidate for liposuction?

It's mainly that you're healthy and you're [realistic] about what you can obtain with the procedure. For instance, if you're morbidly obese, have a lot of stretch marks, or a lot of loose skin -- maybe you're not a good candidate for liposuction and other surgical options [like a gastric bypass or body lift] should be explored.

2. How invasive is the procedure and how large are the incisions?

womans abdomen side view before and after liposuction

Medically speaking, it's a minimally invasive procedure. The incisions are very small, 3 to 5 millimeters long, and usually hidden in creases or places that can be hidden with underwear.  The results, compared to how minimally invasive it is, are just amazing.

3. Will I lose weight after getting liposuction?

First of all, liposuction, is not a weight loss procedure. What we want to achieve is actually a [re-shaping] and contouring [of your body] -- it's not a weight loss procedure.  

However, it will help you lose some weight as this procedure can speed up the metabolism of the patient -- and burn calories faster.   But, you do have to take into account that the next day or two weeks after surgery, you may be heavier or weight the same. [That's because] the surgeon has to infiltrate [or insert] some fluid into the fat to extract [or suck] it out. The procedure helps you lose weight, but it does it in the long run.

4.  Is liposuction an appropriate procedure for someone who is really overweight?

womans abdomen before and after liposuction

We have to take into account the weight compared to the height of a person [commonly known as Body Mass Index or BMI].  Usually beyond a BMI of 30, you are considered obese. Ideally, the patient must lose weight until they are under this number to [qualify as a candidate] for liposuction.

5. So, if you had a patient with a BMI of over 30, what would be your recommendation?

Anyone who is beyond a BMI of 34, is a candidate for bariatric surgery. We have stomach reduction surgery, that is actually very efficient for reducing weight.  Or, maybe something that is slightly less invasive -- like a gastric band or maybe just dieting, that can help achieve weight loss before doing liposuction.

6. Will liposuction get rid of my cellulite?

before and after liposuction womans buttocks

We have two main kinds of cellulite -- primary and secondary. Primary is what almost 90% of the population has, and it's due to fat. You have to have extra fat to have cellulite - and liposuction helps with [fat] reduction. Secondary cellulite is due to loose skin - so if you have that, we'll need something to retract the skin.

7. What about my love handles? 

I think it’s the best procedure to get rid of love handles -- this is the fat doesn’t go away very easily with dieting, a proper diet or exercise.

8. Do I I have to get liposuction again to maintain my results?

As I said before, one of the after-effects of liposuction is that we have an [increased] metabolic rate -- so with proper diet and exercise, you can easily maintain your results. 

The other factor, is a sense of being incentivized. With certain techniques like high-definition liposuction, you will already have the results and the abs. This keeps you motivated [to maintain these results] with diet and exercise.

9. Should I wait until I'm finished having children to get liposuction?

womans thighs before and after liposuction

Personally, what I see is that patients that do liposuction before having a pregnancy, have a protection of sorts against gaining weight. When women have had liposuction and get pregnant --  they don’t gain a lot of weight, or get a lot of stretch marks.

10. Why wouldn't I get i-Lipo? Isn't i-Lipo newer and less invasive? What about Zerona or CoolSculpting?

They all work in different ways. The i-Lipo and Zerona are lasers, so they work between 600 and 35 nanometers to 600 and 60 nanometers -- which means that they are literally like a boosted laser pointer. It's not something that is not going to burn the skin and is quite safe, but at the same time, the effectiveness can be very mild.  So, you can't expect to have the same amount of fat reduction in the same amount of time [as liposuction].  

CoolSculpting freezes the fat that is underneath the skin. The limitation right here is the skin; you have to have a technology that can go through the skin but not damage it. Again, the effectiveness of this device is limited.

You will need several sessions over time [with all of these non-invasive devices] -- and if you want to have a reduction in lots of places like the arms, back, and the belly -- I think it's more effective to have [liposuction].  

Sometimes patients only want a small reduction - and that's the perfect patient to have procedures like [i-Lipo, Zerona or CoolSculpting].  I do think these technologies are going to improve over time and maybe one day will replace liposuction, but right now we still need to have [invasive and non-invasive] options.

11. When should I typically expect to start seeing results?

mans stomach before and after liposuction

We have two factors: One is the swelling that happens after the surgery. Usually, the swelling goes away after the first month. The second is the metabolic increase -- which means that most of our patients can see final results between three to six months after the surgery.

12. Do you feel that lymphatic massage is required after liposuction?

I do. The lymphatic massage is usually combined with external ultrasound to get rid of swelling (by activating the lymphatic drainage system). That helps in lots of ways. When you get rid of the swelling -- the pain resolves, the tissues heal faster and you see results more quickly.

13. What's the deal with the compression garment, and how does it help after liposuction? (Watch Dr. Hoyos respond below).

Do you have a question we didn't answer? Ask a doctor here!