10 Common Liposuction Myths

Liposuction before and after pictures of men and women from RealSelf.com

Liposuction is a popular procedure with a RealSelf Worth It Rating in the 90s. This surgical procedure treats stubborn fat in areas like the stomach, thighs, and back. 

Of course, liposuction is a complex procedure, too. Here, are the 10 biggest myths we hear from our RealSelf community. 

1. Lipo is a weight loss tool.

Plastic surgeons on RealSelf advise that liposuction is not a go-to solution for weight loss.

"Liposuction is not considered a way to lose weight," said Dr. Jennifer Reichel, a dermatologic surgeon in Seattle, in this RealSelf Q&A. "Most patients lose only about two to five pounds. The best liposuction candidate is someone at a fairly stable weight, with areas of exercise resistant fatty deposits.

"I always talk to my patients at the consultation about ideal weight, what weight they are at now, expectations, and individual results," she continues. "Sometimes, we have to work out an initial weight loss program, and then revisit the idea of liposuction in a few months."

2. Lipo gets rid of cellulite.

"Though liposuction removes deep fat just beneath the skin, it may not remove cellulite," said Dr. Jed Horowitz, an Orange County, Calif., plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. "The American Academy of Dermatology warns that liposuction may actually worsen the appearance of cellulite by creating more depressions in the skin. Clinical treatments offer the most effective and longest lasting results." 

Below, Dr. David Amron, a Beverly Hills dermatologic surgeon, talks about liposuction and cellulite.

*Treatment results may vary

3. The fat will return somewhere else.

With liposuction, plastic surgeons often hear a common fear about fat returning. Even though individual fat cells grow evenly, there will be fewer in the body areas treated with liposuction. 

"There's a belief that if you remove fat it will come back in another area," said Dr. George Marosan, a Bellevue, Wash., plastic surgeon in this RealSelf Q&A. "There's no scientific evidence to support this ... If you gain significant weight, you will 'fill out' in all areas of fat deposition, genetically and hormonally determined," he continues. "But you will maintain your contour from liposuction." 

Dr. C. Bob Basu, a Houston plastic surgeon, discusses what happens post liposuction.

*Treatment results may vary

4. Liposuction doesn’t hurt.

How much pain a person experiences with liposuction varies. It will depend on your overall health, areas treated, and how quickly you can recuperate.

"Most of my patients are usually back to work one week after liposuction," says Dr. Renato Saltz, a Salt Lake City plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. "It does depend on how much liposuction is done and how many areas are being treated.

"Keep in mind you will still be sore after one week, and it is not uncommon to have additional swelling after a long day at work," he continues. "If you are planning a large liposuction with multiple areas treated and you have a strenuous job, you may consider taking a little more time off."

Learn more about the procedure and recovery in our guide to liposuction.

5. You’re too old for lipo.

Sometimes age really is just a number. Most doctors agree that if a patient is in great overall health and gets the go-ahead after a medical examine, then age should not be a disqualifying factor.

"The answer to your question can be better obtained through a physical examination and review of medical history with an experienced board certified plastic surgeon," said Dr. Jerome Edelstein, a Toronto plastic surgeon, when answering a 71-year-old woman's question about liposuction. "However, in general, liposuction is safe for patients as long as they are relatively healthy, physically, and psychologically."

However, doctors also say to factor in realistic expectations, especially regarding skin elasticity. Your skin loses its ability to bounce back as you age.

6. Are obese patients good candidates?

The ideal potential patient for liposuction is at a healthy weight, or a little over, not obese. 

"Patients with average weight, localized fat collections, and healthy elastic skin are the best candidates for liposuction," said Dr. Larry Nichter, an Orange County, Calif., plastic surgeon in this RealSelf Q&A. "Obesity, cellulite, or loose, sagging, and inelastic skin are several conditions which may tend toward less desirable results. In fact, these problems may be worsened by liposuction."

"Frequently, patients seek liposuction to reduce their weight and general obesity," he continues. "Unfortunately, liposuction is not indicated to treat these problems. Standard methods of weight reduction are required for these patients." 

Related: What to buy before your liposuction procedure.

7. Liposuction is only for women.

If you’re a man considering liposuction, you're far from alone. 

"One of the most common reasons men come to my plastic surgery practice is for liposuction," said Dr. Robert Cohen, a Santa Monica, Calif., plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. "Over the years, plastic surgery for men, particularly liposuction, has increased significantly in popularity. In properly selected patients, liposuction can be an effective way to improve men’s physiques with minimal scarring and fairly low rates of complications."

RealSelf doctors say that the most commonly treated areas for men include the abdomen, love handles, and chest (male breasts).

Below, Dr. Kent Hasen, a Naples, Fla., plastic surgeon, talks about body sculpting options for men.

*Treatment results may vary

8. The more fat removed, the better.

Liposuction, as discussed earlier, is for body sculpting, but it is not a solution for major fat loss. In fact, the more fat you remove, the greater the risk for complications, including lumps and bumps.

"Lumpiness and irregularities after liposuction is very common and can happen even if everything is done perfectly," said Dr. John Stratis, a Harrisburg, Pa., plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. "They can be due to technique, post-operative issues, like blood accumulation, and patient factors. 

"If some lumpiness is noted during the healing process, which is very common, massage and ultrasound help break that up. Irregularities can be due to too much fat removal for the amount of skin that is present. The looser the skin the more irregularities."

Related: Choose the right liposuction doctor for you with these 20 questions.

9. You can return to your daily routine right away.

Liposuction, while relatively safe and common, is still a surgical procedure. There will be a recovery period.

"Every patient is a little different, but most patients see some limited bruising for about one to two weeks," says Dr. Wm. Todd Stoeckel, a Raleigh-Durham, N.C., plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. "Most of my patients take pain medication for only two to three days, and then are just sore for 10 to 14 days. 

"There are usually some areas of residual tenderness even for up to several months, but this is usually very mild and not bothersome," he continues. "The swelling is decreased significantly by three weeks, but may take three to six months to completely resolve. I would recommend taking about one week off work and start back to an exercise routine about two to three weeks after surgery."

10. Lipo and tummy tuck are the same thing.

While these surgeries are often performed together, liposuction and tummy tucks are not the same thing. Liposuction treats fat pockets, while tummy tucks address excess skin and fat around the stomach while tightening the abdominal wall. Liposuction is often used in a tummy tuck operation.

"In many cases, both tummy tuck and liposuction done together give you the best result," said Dr. Brooke Seckel, a Boston plastic surgeon, in this RealSelf Q&A. "The key is the amount of loose skin and fat in the abdomen following pregnancy. If the problem is primarily loose skin with very little fat, then a tummy tuck alone will remove loose skin and tighten the tummy. However, if there are significant amounts of fat then a liposuction will also be needed."

Explore more:

Read liposuction reviews from real people.

See before and after pictures.

Watch related videos.

Find a doctor near you. 

Disclaimer: This content is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare professional. Your reliance on any information or content provided in the guide is solely at your own risk. You should always seek the advice of your physician or healthcare professional for any questions you have about your own medical condition. RealSelf does not endorse or recommend any specific content, procedure, product, opinion, healthcare professional, or any other material or information in this guide or anywhere on this website.

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