BANFF PLASTIC SURGERY
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Is Liposuction Right for You?

Introduction

Liposuction is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in North America. It’s been around in various forms for over 40 years, and its popularity has endured because of its ability to safely and predictably reshape problem areas all over the body. Dr. Hall-Findlay has decades of experience with liposuction, both by itself and in combination with other procedures such as breast reduction and tummy tuck.

 

The Right Patient

It’s important for you to understand that liposuction is not for weight reduction. The best candidates are those who are close to ideal body weight or only mildly overweight, but have areas such as the abdomen, outer thighs (“saddlebags”), or hips (“love handles” or “muffin top”) that are out of proportion to other areas. It’s also important to have realistic expectations about results. Not everyone is the right candidate. When you have loose skin, stretch marks, or an overhang of your lower abdomen, you may be a better candidate for a tummy tuck in order to remove some of the extra skin. Likewise, if your inner thighs have loose skin and stretch marks, liposuction may not be able to give you the tightened result you’re hoping for. We’ll be happy to look at all of your areas of concern during your consultation and give you an honest recommendation based on our experience.

 

The Right Procedure

At Banff Plastic Surgery, we primarily offer “tumescent” or suction-assisted liposuction (“SAL”). While you may have heard about several other types of liposuction, the premise is similar. The problem areas are injected with a solution that contains lidocaine to numb the tissue and epinephrine to minimize bleeding. A long narrow tube called a cannula is used to loosen the fat, and suction is employed to remove the fat from the targeted areas. Liposuction can be very effective in certain areas of the body, particularly the lower abdomen, hips, “bra rolls”, outer thighs, and upper arms. While we don’t currently offer ultrasound-assisted (UAL) or Vaser, these are other liposuction techniques you may have heard about that can be equally effective in experienced hands. Beware of names such as “smart” or “laser”. These names are used mainly for marketing purposes and do not offer any better or easier results. Safety is of primary importance at our office-based outpatient surgery centre, so we will ensure that your chosen procedure is likely to meet your goals with a very low risk of complications.

 

The Right Reasons

It’s important to remember that liposuction is not a weight-loss procedure. The best candidates are of normal or slightly above-normal weight, and have areas that have not responded to diet and exercise. We often have patients tell us “I have my mother’s thighs,” or “I have my grandmother’s hips.” These women have been unable to “spot-reduce” and often turn to liposuction to address their problem areas. Liposuction can help clothing fit better and improve how a woman feels about her body shape, balancing proportion and restoring confidence.

 

The Right Time

Liposuction is a safe, effective procedure with a relatively short recovery time. Most liposuction procedures are done under general anesthesia, as an outpatient so you can go home later the same day. The incisions are very small, but there can be significant bruising and you may be quite sore for a week or more. Most of our patients take about a week off work and regular activities, but recovery time may be longer or shorter, depending upon which areas are treated. Most liposuction patients will also wear a compression garment (similar to Spanx and provided by our practice) for about 4 weeks after surgery to help manage the swelling. You can get back to regular activities quite quickly after liposuction, since the incisions are less than 1cm each and the risks of surgical complications are very low.

Let us answer your questions

 

Liposuction FAQ

Am I a good candidate for liposuction?

You may be a good candidate for liposuction of you’re at or slightly over normal weight and have specific areas of fullness that you haven’t been able to reduce with diet and exercise alone. The best candidates also have tighter, more elastic skin without stretch marks.

I have cellulite on my thighs. Will liposuction help?

Unfortunately, our experience has been that liposuction doesn’t improve the appearance of cellulite. While liposuction can decrease the thickness of the fat layer under the skin, the dimpled appearance of cellulite will usually remain.

Where is liposuction performed?

Most liposuction procedures are done under general anesthesia at our office-based outpatient surgery centre at Banff Plastic Surgery. You’ll be able to go home with your caregiver later the same day. We also have access to the Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff, where patients who require an overnight stay or extra monitoring can be treated.

Does liposuction treat stretch marks?

Unfortunately, liposuction will only treat the “pinchable” fat deep to the skin and isn’t very effective at tightening skin. For that reason, if you have stretch marks on your abdomen, we may discuss tummy tuck with you as another option.

Are there risks I should be aware of?

Liposuction is a minimally invasive procedure with a low rate of complications when performed by experienced plastic surgeons. While complication rates are low, you should be aware of the potential risk of fluid collections under the skin, nausea after anesthesia, infection, and the extremely rare complication called fat embolism.

Are there other risks that are more cosmetic in nature?

Problems can occasionally arise that aren’t medically problematic but can affect your cosmetic result. While the incisions made for the cannula are less than 1 cm in length, occasionally they can appear red or bumpy for a period of time. One of the most common cosmetic complications is contour irregularities – lumps and bumps from uneven suction. The best option here is prevention, but occasionally liposuction patients choose to have a revision to improve the smoothness of their results.

Can fat return after liposuction?

Unfortunately, the answer to this frequent FAQ is YES. Liposuction is effective in permanently removing fat cells from treated areas, so if you maintain your post-treatment weight, it’s likely that your results will remain. If you gain weight, the remaining fat cells, both in the treated and untreated areas, can enlarge and start to diminish your results. Our best advice is to have your treatment at a healthy weight that you can maintain, and protect your investment by keeping your weight steady after your treatment.