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It’s Not Real Surgery, It’s Just Liposuction


Updated November 30, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

“It’s not real surgery, it’s just liposuction.” This comment could not be any further from the truth. If I had a dollar for every time a patient has made this comment, I would be a very rich woman. I do not blame my patients however, as the internet and some dubious doctors (not all of them plastic surgeons) wish to capitalize monetarily on the confusion created by referring to liposuction in different ways. Some family medicine doctors, obstetricians, gynecologists, dentists, chiropractors, dermatolgoists, etc who have NEVER trained in a plastic surgery program, and as such, cannot call themselves plastic surgeons, but can call themselves “cosmetic surgeons” – refer to the article, What is the Difference Between A Plastic Surgeon and a Cosmetic Surgeon? - love to advertise liposculpture, microbody contouring, vaser lipo, smart lipo, cool lipo, etc. in the hopes of preying on the lack of knowledge of people looking to use surgery to remove unwanted fat.

The former descriptors are simply marketing terms for liposuction. In short liposuction is liposuction. The only way to remove unwanted fat from your body, aside from employing the discipline of incorporating a nutritious diet and daily exercise in which you expend more calories than you consume, is through surgery. This surgery suctions your fat with a controlled vacuum into a container. This surgery is known as liposuction. Literally the word “lipo” means fat. Thus liposuction equals fat-suction. Now,, there are different types of liposuction. But don’t be fooled, ladies and gentlemen. Liposculpture is the same thing as liposuction. Microbody contouring is the same thing as liposuction. Vaser liposuction is a form of liposuction that uses ultrasound to pulverize the fat before it is suctioned out. Smart liposuction is a form of liposuction that uses a laser to help pulverize the fat before it is suctioned out. Body Jet Liposuction or Water-assisted Liposuction is a form of liposuction that uses a water spray to help break up the fat as it is suctioned out of your body into a container.

As with any real surgery, liposuction has risks and/or complications. Unless you are willing to accept the risks inherent to liposuction, then you should find an alternative way to get rid of your unwanted fat. If you believe that complications “only happen to other people” then you should not be undergoing liposuction. For those individuals who are of a reasonable weight for their height and have spots of fat that won’t budge and are resistant to exercise and a healthful diet, you may be limited in your alternatives. For those individuals who could stand to lose 15 or more pounds from their frame (barring some type of disability), there really is no substitute for the feeling of accomplishment and confidence a person gains by losing weight the old-fashioned way - exercising and healthful eating. Furthermore, unless you are already have muscle tone via exercise, no amount of liposuction is going to give you that natural toned look that comes from actually engaging your muscles in movement. Even that “high-definition” liposuction that is all the rage in some areas. I have seen the results of high-definition liposuction up-close. While it may look good in pictures, in person it looks fake. It does not look the same as someone who is chiseled because they’ve earned it at the gym. There is something odd and artificial looking about the look of high-definition liposuction. And it looks even more odd when these individuals gain weight. Imagine a six-pack etched in the fat of a protuberant beer belly. Do you have that image in your head? Exactly…

Furthermore, while liposuction may appear to be the easier way to look slimmer, this is not necessarily the whole truth. Depending on the number of body parts you have treated and the amount of fat you have removed with liposuction, you will need some downtime, you will be sore, and you will likely have to take some time off of work. Every person is different, thus the amount of time for recovery will vary from person to person. The initial swelling from liposuction resolves in about six to eight weeks, however changes can occur for up to four to six months. In this same time, you could have hit up the gym and improved your diet, for less expense, even with the cost of a personal trainer and a dietician or nutritionist.

In short, liposuction is indeed, real surgery. There is no form of liposuction that feels “like a massage.” If a plastic surgeon presents liposuction surgery as this, “Run, Forest, run.” For certainly there will be other fibs or other aspects this surgeon may gloss over in trying to get your hard-earned money.

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