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Undesirable, unsightly body bulges are commonplace in America, even in circles where proper dieting and exercise are followed. It is the reason why liposuction has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed today. For the properly selected candidates, substantial improvement in body contour can be accomplished in expert hands. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Eric Okamoto, can reduce pockets of excess fat in a variety of areas and help you recontour your body with beautiful results.

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a method of removing excess fat from specific body areas. The procedure can be performed utilizing a variety of advanced techniques designed to provide effective body contouring. Although surgical in nature, liposuction typically does not require an overnight hospital stay.

Liposuction is primarily designed to help patients who are at or near a healthy body weight for their size by reducing pockets of excess fat that are isolated to specific areas. It is not meant to serve as an option for extensive weight loss.

What Are the Benefits of Liposuction?

For many individuals, even the most rigorous diet regimens and exercise routines have little to no effect on isolated fat pockets that can appear in a range of body areas. Liposuction is an advanced method of removing stubborn excess fat in these areas and improving the body’s contours. The treatment has remained one of the most popular cosmetic enhancement procedures for many years, and has helped millions of patients feel better about the way they look. Some of the areas that can be targeted for liposuction include:

  • Neck
  • Arms
  • Armpits
  • Abdomen
  • Inner and outer thighs
  • Back
  • Flanks (love handles)
  • Hips
  • Buttocks
  • Knees
  • Calves
  • Ankles

While liposuction can be an extraordinarily effective procedure for many patients, it is important to reiterate that the treatment is no substitute for weight loss. In fact, it is best suited for those who are close to their ideal body weight but have stubborn fatty deposits that never seem to go away regardless of weight. In fact, this subset of patients is often the most satisfied since the results can be more exacting.

What Does the Liposuction Procedure Involve?

Liposuction can be very effective when performed for reasonable candidates by an experienced plastic surgeon. This treatment is typically performed on an outpatient basis, and often takes about two hours or less to complete, depending on the size, number, and location of the areas being treated. Because it is a relatively simple concept of vacuuming extra fat with a set of long, thin tubes called cannulas, a wide range of physicians and surgeons offer liposuction services. Simply said, this is an easy procedure to perform, but a difficult one to do well and safely. There can be no doubt that results are closely related to experience. When liposuction is performed for the right patients in a correct manner, complications can be minimized. As with many surgical procedures, the list of things that can go wrong is lengthy and needs to be discussed directly with each patient, but the most common is unreasonable expectations for less ideal candidates.

Once you come in for your initial consultation with Dr. Okamoto, he will talk with you about your needs and goals and explain all risks and benefits of the procedure to you in detail. If he determines that you are a good candidate for liposuction, Dr. Okamoto will create a customized treatment plan designed to provide you with the best possible results.

Liposuction Techniques

Multiple techniques are available. The most common involves mechanical removal of the fat with a suction device after a specially prepared solution is injected into the fatty deposits. However, there are some methods that apply ultrasound or laser assistance. Regardless of the methodology applied, the most important factor for obtaining natural and satisfactory results is the surgeon’s experience with the chosen tools.

What About the Liposuction Recovery Process?

Healing varies according to individual circumstances and the liposuction techniques utilized. In general, the more fat that is removed, the longer the convalescence. Most candidates return to work in a week or even less, but some symptoms of healing can persist for months. In general, some swelling and bruising can be expected for several days after liposuction; however, this should fade as recovery progresses. In most cases, a compression garment is offered to facilitate post-surgical healing. Full results of the liposuction procedure should become apparent over the course of recovery.
All patients respond differently to surgery, and any post-operative discomfort will largely depend on the techniques utilized and the size and extent of the treatment area. With that in mind, many individuals do not experience significant levels of pain after liposuction, and Dr. Okamoto can prescribe medicine to control discomfort during recovery.
Again, recovery from liposuction is dependent on the size, location, and number of treatment areas, so the recovery period will be different for everyone. However, patients who do not have a strenuous job are often able to resume working within a week, and sometimes after just a few days.

Will There Be Scarring from Liposuction?

The incisions utilized for liposuction surgery are typically quite small, often considerably less than an inch in length. Therefore, residual scarring should be minimal. Dr. Okamoto takes great care to ensure that scars from this procedure are as light as possible.

Are There Any Liposuction Side Effects?  

The most common side effects of liposuction surgery include swelling, bruising, soreness, and even some level of numbness in the treatment areas following the procedure. These effects should only be temporary, and should diminish as recovery

progresses. In some cases, depending on the specific areas that are targeted,

patients may experience skin rippling due to pre-existing excess skin and subsurface pools of fluids, technically known as “seromas,” might occur.  All of these possible complications and how they are treated are part of the consultation with Dr. Okamoto. His extensive experience with this procedure and his use of advanced techniques, in addition to strict adherence to recovery instructions, can be very helpful in minimizing post-operative side effects from liposuction.

Are There Alternatives to Liposuction?

For patients who may not need or desire a full liposuction procedure to achieve their goals, there is a non-surgical alternative available at our practice that may be an ideal option. CoolSculpting® is an innovative treatment that can help patients reduce excess fat in targeted areas without requiring needles, anesthesia, or surgical incisions. This procedure works by freezing the excess fat cells in the treatment area, which are then filtered out gradually through the body’s own metabolic processes. CoolSculpting® can be performed on a variety of body areas, including the love handles, abdomen, lower back, and other common “trouble” spots.

Learn more about CoolSculpting®.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck for Abdominal Sculpting

While liposuction and tummy tuck surgery are both procedures that offer significant benefits for abdominal contouring, there are several differences between the two treatments that can make one more ideal than the other in certain cases. Liposuction can recontour abdominal areas by removing pockets of excess fat;

however, it cannot address loose, excess skin or lax abdominal musculature. Conversely, tummy tuck surgery is designed to tighten underlying abdominal muscles, remove excess skin, and tighten the remaining skin to provide a more fit look and an enhanced contour. For some individuals, liposuction may be the only procedure necessary to fulfill their needs; in others, tummy tuck surgery is the better option. For patients who are affected by excess fat and skin and lax muscles in the abdominal region, a combination of the two procedures may offer the best results. Once Dr. Okamoto has examined you in the initial consultation, he can determine whether liposuction, tummy tuck surgery, or both procedures are necessary to achieve your goals.

What Procedures Can Be Combined with Liposuction?

Liposuction can be one part of a comprehensive cosmetic enhancement makeover from our practice. In addition to liposuction, tummy tuck surgery can be performed to tighten the abdominal muscles and give the abdomen a firmer, flatter appearance; arm or thigh lift surgery can firm up the skin of the arms and thighs; and some of our other body contouring or breast surgery procedures can also serve as complements to liposuction for patients who are looking to enhance a range of body areas. Dr. Okamoto will be happy to talk over your options with you once you have explained the areas you would like to address.

For more information on tummy tuck surgery, or to schedule a consultation with our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Eric Okamoto, please contact Fremont Plastic Surgery.

*Individual results may vary