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Which Body Parts Can Be Treated With Liposuction?

Above the Waistline

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Updated March 22, 2012

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

Liposuction can be used to slim various areas of the body. Liposuction is not a way to lose weight. People who are asking their plastic surgeon how much weight they are going to lose with liposuction are missing the whole point of liposuction. Liposuction is best for people who are at their ideal weight. Liposuction can be a great adjunct for those individuals who eat a reasonable diet and exercise regularly, but can't seem to rid themselves of localized pockets of fat. Just what are these localized pockets of fat and where are they?

Let’s focus on the areas above the waist, starting at the head and working our way down.

1. Double Chin

Double Chin
Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
A "double chin" refers to excess fat in the chin and neck area that causes a fold, making it look like a person has two chins. This area is also known as the submental area. Usually, this is a consequence of being overweight. This can be improved with liposuction. More rarely, a person of normal weight may accumulate fat in this particular area. Instead of having a nice angle of definition between the chin and neck, the neck appears to start at the chin, looking slanted. This person is an ideal candidate for submental liposuction. Liposuction will not tighten loose skin in this area, however.

2. Buffalo Hump

Buffalo Hump
Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
A "buffalo hump" is an abnormal deposit of fat located at the upper back and neck. The term comes from the hump of the neck that is unique to the buffalo. A buffalo hump is usually a consequence of steroid treatment, the body's overproduction of certain steroids, and/or obesity. Liposuction can be used to remove this fat deposit in some instances.

3. Bat Wings

Arm Liposuction
Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
Flabby arms due to fat can be helped by liposuction. Flabby arms due to loose skin -- not so much. Loose skin requires a more involved procedure known as an arm lift or brachioplasty.

4. Female Breasts

Breast Liposuction
Breast Liposuction
Overly large breasts can be treated with liposuction. However, the population whose breasts can be treated with liposuction is limited. To get a good result, there cannot be ptosis (sagging or droopiness) of the breasts. Liposuction will just make ptosis worse. A breast lift or a breast reduction is the answer for ptotic breasts.

Additionally, the breast must be more fatty than dense. A dense breast is not ideal for liposuction. Younger breasts are more dense while older breasts are more fatty. However, breasts also become more ptotic with age, especially if they’re on the larger side. Therefore, liposuction of the breast is appropriate for a limited population -– women with fatty, yet perky breasts.

5. Male Breasts

Gynecomastia Liposuction
Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
Liposuction can help reduce gynecomastia, which is the enlargement of the male chest, causing it to look like a breast. Male breasts, also known as "moobs" or "man boobs," occur when there is excessive fat in the chest area of a male. This can be the result of obesity, steroid use, hormone imbalances, or using certain drugs, like marijuana. However, the male breast can be quite dense. Removal of the tissue with methods other than liposuction may be necessary in addition to liposuction.

6. Bra Fat

Bra Fat
Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
Bra fat refers to excess fat in the back area. There may be so much excess fat that a fat roll or rolls are present, or the fat may only be more pronounced when a bra is worn. Sometimes this problem can be solved by simply wearing a properly fitted bra. Liposuction can be a fantastic tool for removing this excess fat. If the skin has not been too stretched out, the results after liposuction can be quite remarkable. If the back skin has been stretched, a bra line back lift may be necessary.

7. Abdomen

Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
The abdomen can have an excess layer of fat resistant to diet and exercise. If the abdomen is rounded like a globe and is hard, known as an “apple” shape in women and a “beer belly” in men, the fat is on the inside of the abdomen. This fat is known as intra-abdominal fat. It cannot be removed by liposuction.

8. Belly Pooch

Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
Sometimes excess fat does not involve the entire abdomen. A “belly pooch” is a pocket of fat usually localized to the lower belly. This is different from a potbelly due to being overweight. The belly pouch occurs in people of normal weight who just happen to accumulate fat in this area. This person is an ideal candidate for liposuction.

9. Love Handle

Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
“Love handle” is a term for fat on the sides of the abdomen that partially extends onto the back. This area is also called the flanks. This area is quite difficult to get rid of. Even the slimmest of people struggle with this stubborn fat deposit. Both men and women can have love handles.

10. Muffin Top

Muffin Top
Photo © Millicent Odunze, M.D., M.P.H.
“Muffin top” is another name for love handles, referring to fat pockets on the sides of the abdomen that extend onto the back. The term was coined because when the fat on the sides of the abdomen spills over the waistband of pants or shorts, it looks similar to the edges of the top of a muffin. Women usually use this term to describe the excess fat in this area whereas men usually refer to the fat in this area as love handles.

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