Is Liposuction Right for You?

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.

Liposuction is a body contouring procedure that removes localized pockets of fat that refuse to budge with diet and exercise. Using this technique, Dr. Hall-Findlay can give a more refined shape to almost any area of the body, sculpting an improved contour to the immediate area and enhancing the overall balance and proportion of the entire body. Common treatment locations performed at Banff Plastic Surgery include the abdomen, thighs, hips, flanks, back and arms.

No matter how committed you are to leading a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating a balanced diet may not be enough to give you a body that makes you feel fit and confident. Our patients choose liposuction for a variety of reasons. Some want to look better in a swimsuit or find clothing that fits more comfortably. Some want to restore the body they enjoyed before having a baby. Some want to put the finishing touches on their figure at the end of a weight loss journey. Dr. Hall-Findlay tailors each liposuction procedure to the unique needs of the patient, ensuring their results are beautiful, natural and in line with their goals. To learn more about liposuction, we invite you to schedule a consultation at Banff Plastic Surgery.

The Right Patient

A rewarding liposuction experience starts with setting appropriate expectations and determining whether liposuction is the most suitable procedure for achieving your desired outcome. During your in-person consultation, Dr. Hall-Findlay will explain how liposuction works, what it can and cannot do, the liposuction risks you should be aware of, what you can expect during recovery and what kind of results you can expect to see. We encourage you to make the most of this appointment by asking questions and voicing any concerns you have. Your consultation is the perfect time to learn about your options, get to know Dr. Hall-Findlay and get the information you need to feel confident that liposuction is the right choice for you.

Although there are numerous considerations that factor into the decision to have liposuction, one we believe it is particularly important for you to understand is how liposuction fits into your goals for your figure. Liposuction is not a procedure for weight reduction. It can improve your shape, and you may look thinner and more fit as a result, but it is not intended to be a tool for significant weight loss. The best candidates for liposuction are close to their ideal body weight or only mildly overweight, but have areas such as the abdomen, hips (“love handles” or “muffin top”) or outer thighs (“saddlebags”) that are out of proportion to other areas.

Liposuction only addresses unwanted fat. It does not improve loose skin, stretch marks or cellulite. If these issues are concerns for you, you may be a better candidate for a procedure that can remove some of the extra skin and give you the tightened result you’re hoping for. An ideal candidate for liposuction is at or near their target weight, in good health, a non-smoker and committed to maintaining healthy habits following their procedure. Dr. Hall-Findlay will be happy to look at all of your areas of concern during your consultation and give you an honest recommendation based on her 30+ years of experience as a practicing plastic surgeon.

The Right Procedure

Patients and plastic surgeons now have access to several different types of liposuction. While the purpose of every type of liposuction is improving body contours, they achieve this goal in slightly different ways. There is no evidence yet that there is a significant difference in effectiveness between these types of liposuction. What matters most is that the surgeon performing the procedure is trained and experienced.

At Banff Plastic Surgery, we primarily offer “tumescent” or suction-assisted liposuction (SAL). The procedure begins with the injection of a solution containing lidocaine and epinephrine into the problem area. This numbs the tissue and minimizes bleeding. A small incision is made in the skin and a long, narrow tube called a cannula is inserted. The cannula is moved methodically back and forth in the treatment area to dislodge excess fat cells. The loosened cells are then removed from the body using a surgical suction device. Tumescent liposuction and SAL are the most widely used and time-tested liposuction techniques.

While we do not currently offer them, there are other liposuction techniques you may have heard about. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) or Vaser uses low-frequency ultrasound energy to emulsify the fat before it is removed via suction. There are also techniques that use a vibrating cannula or laser energy to aid in fat removal. Some of these alternatives can be equally effective in experienced hands, but we caution patients to beware of names such as “smart” or “laser.” These names are used mainly for marketing purposes. They do not offer a lower risk of liposuction side effects, nor do they provide any better or easier results. Safety is of primary importance at Banff Plastic Surgery, so we will ensure that your chosen procedure is likely to meet your goals with a very low risk of complications.

The Right Reasons

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” with diet and exercise and often turn to liposuction to address their problem areas. Liposuction can be very effective in certain areas of the body, particularly the lower abdomen, hips, “bra rolls,” outer thighs and upper arms. It can help clothing fit better and improve how a woman feels about her body shape, balancing proportion and restoring confidence.

It’s important to remember that liposuction is not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle or a treatment for obesity. It can slim and reshape specific areas of the body, but it is not a weight loss procedure. Patients who have the best experience with liposuction are typically satisfied with their weight before surgery. For these patients, liposuction is “the icing on the cake” used to refine isolated problem areas that have not responded to diet and exercise.

Many patients interested in improving the appearance of their abdomen want to know whether liposuction or a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) will give them a better result. The simple answer is, it depends on the patient. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and can offer a beautiful outcome for the right candidate.

If you currently have good skin and muscle tone, and are only concerned about reducing fat, liposuction may be an effective choice for you. Liposuction cannot correct loose and sagging skin or repair stretched abdominal muscles. If you have loose abdominal muscles and/or a significant amount of excess skin in addition to unwanted fat, a tummy tuck may be better suited to your needs. Abdominoplasty is a more invasive surgical procedure that involves a longer and more uncomfortable recovery, but it can achieve more dramatic improvements than even the most aggressive liposuction procedure. Liposuction and abdominoplasty can be combined for patients who require the most comprehensive treatment.

The Right Time

Liposuction is a safe, effective procedure with a relatively short recovery time. Most liposuction procedures are done on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, so you can go home later the same day. The incisions are very small and the risks of surgical complications are very low. However, there can be significant bruising and swelling and you may be quite sore for a week or more. Although not necessary for the final result, most liposuction patients wear a compression garment (similar to Spanx) for about four weeks after surgery to help manage the swelling and help their body adjust to its new contours. It takes about six weeks for the swelling and bruising to settle and about six months for the areas to soften.

You can get back to your normal routine quite quickly after liposuction. Liposuction recovery time varies depending upon which areas are treated and how many areas are treated. In general, most of our patients take about a week off work and regular activities. It is essential to allow yourself ample time for a safe and healthy recovery process.

Once your final results are in place, you can enjoy them for many years to come. Liposuction removes fat cells from the treated area permanently — once they are gone, they will not grow back. Your new body shape will remain relatively stable as long as you maintain a similar weight. If you gain a significant amount of weight in the future, the remaining fat cells in the treated area may expand or your body may store excess fat in other areas. It is important to continue making healthy choices for a long-lasting result.

Liposuction can be a life-changing procedure for patients who have struggled to achieve a body they love. If you are in Canmore, Calgary and the surrounding areas of Alberta and you would like to discuss your body contouring options, please visit Banff Plastic Surgery for a consultation with Dr. Hall-Findlay. Call us today at 403-762-2055 to learn more.

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. You’ll be able to go home with your caregiver later the same day. Surgery is performed at the Mineral Springs Hospital in Banff when patients require an overnight stay or extra monitoring during treatment.

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.