Fat removal is one of the most sought after procedures. Many of us struggle with areas of “stubborn fat” which don’t respond to diet or exercise.

Liposuction is the direct suction of fat cells out of the body. Doctors talk about “areas” to be liposuctioned such as the upper and lower abdomen, the flanks or love handles the neck, etc.

Fat removal can be performed as a minor office procedure or as an outpatient under anesthesia. This depends upon how much fat there is to be removed and the number of areas to be work upon. For example, a motivated patient with localized fat under the chin may do very well with numbing medicine and mild pain killers in an office setting. However, liposuction of the entire abdomen and love handles generally takes 2 or more hours and is best done under anesthesia so the surgeon can proceed as needed to get a great result.

The recovery is not as involved as some procedures, but the area does have a deep soreness feeling. Some say it is like falling on ice or a hard workout. There is usually a need to wear postoperative compression garments for one or more weeks to control swelling.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons has found that keeping the total amount of fat removed at one time to under 5 liters results in less complications and can be done as an outpatient.

Combining liposuction with a tummy tuck is often done, especially the love handle area (flanks).

The skin does shrink after liposuction although some practitioners like to use a laser fiber to deliver heat under the skin in hopes of more “shrinkage” post-op. Studies have shown that after six months there is no obvious benefit to that step.

Patients are now faced with many methods of fat shrinkage or removal with the advent of lasers which either freeze or melt fat. As a plastic surgeon, I prefer the direct removal of fat via suction tubing, also known as liposuction, suction assisted lipoplasty or tumescent liposuction. Nothing beats seeing the fat in a canister and knowing exactly how much was removed!