I am not so silly as to miss seeing FX Network's plastic surgery-based drama Nip / Tuck for what it truly is: entertainment. I don't expect pinpoint scientific accuracy. However, when doing any sort of medical-based drama, doing it well requires that you must at least attempt to be somewhere in the realm of reality where the medical facts are concerned.
Last week's episode broke that rule ten times over when it portrayed a large volume liposuction case in which 150 lbs of the patient's body weight were removed during a lipo/tummy tuck combo surgery. We won't even get into the ethical considerations of sucking the fat out of a prisoner so he can be legally slim enough to receive his scheduled lethal injection. That's a blog for another day.
According to Laurence Glickman, MD, the maximum amount of body fat, skin, and fluid that can be safely removed in any one surgery varies greatly, depending on a number of factors including the patient's health and whether the procedure is performed on and in-patient (with an overnight hospital stay) or outpatient basis.
Another post-bariatric body contouring specialist, New York-based surgeon, Thomas Sterry, MD, states that it impossible to give an absolute maximum volume of fat, skin, and fluid that can be removed under the most optimum circumstances during a combination liposuction/tummy tuck procedure, because of all the variables involved. Typically, larger amounts of fat and skin can be removed through a body lift procedure. However, Dr. Sterry agrees (along with every other "real world" doctor I've talked to) that the surgical removal of 150 lbs is quite obviously an exercise in fantasy with no basis in reality.
Dr. Sterry points out that accepted conventional liposuction guidelines are to take out no more than 5 liters (about 10 1/2 lbs) of total volume. However, only about half of that amount is typically fat. The rest is the tumescent solution (fluid introduced into the area to assist with the surgery). Anything above this 5 liter volume is considered large volume liposuction, and requires an overnight hospital stay and careful monitoring of the patient.
If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times: As much as we might wish otherwise, liposuction is mean to be a body contouring procedure, not a substitute for conventional means of weight loss such as diet modification and exercise. According to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, fat loss resulting from liposuction does not provide any of the metabolic or other health benefits of weight loss achieved through diet and exercise. In fact, fat removed from women's hips and thighs may actually cause a decline in optimal metabolic function in some women, due to the metabolically protective nature of the types of fat cells located in these areas.
If you do opt for undergoing large volume liposuction, heed these words from American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery(ASAPS) President, Peter B. Fodor, MD:
"Large volume lipoplasty, in particular, requires extensive experience in lipoplasty procedures. The surgeon and assisting medical personnel must have broad knowledge and experience in anesthesia and fluid management. Postoperative monitoring of the patients must be vigilant. Patients must be thoroughly informed of the possibility of increased risk associated with large volume fat removal."
I still love you, Nip / Tuck...but...tsk, tsk, tsk.
Something to think about: Can Liposuction Cause Weight Gain?