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Does liposuction have health benefits? Dermatologist in New York City explains

Liposuction, a surgical technique for removal of fat, became widely available in the United States in the 1980s. Since that time, as techniques and safety improved and recovery time diminished, this form of body contouring continues to gain acceptance. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery reports that liposuction was the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in 2016, with 414,335 performed. Dr. Ariel Ostad, a Board-certified dermatologic surgeon practicing in New York City, discusses the procedure and potential health benefits.

About tumescent liposuction

Liposuction is removal of fat (primarily from the subcutaneous layer just beneath skin) to change the shape of the body. It involves suctioning targeted pockets of unwanted fat to sculpt body contours. For female patients, this technique is usually used to treat:

  • Face – double chin, cheeks, and jowls
  • Breasts
  • Upper arms
  • Abdomen
  • Back
  • Hips
  • Waist
  • Buttocks
  • Inner, outer, and anterior thighs
  • Knees

Men frequently take advantage of liposuction to sculpt the face, abdomen, and flanks, and for male breast reduction.

In the past, the procedure had to be performed under general anesthesia, as a more aggressive approach resulted in significant bleeding and bruising. Today, tumescent liposuction minimizes those concerns, and usually only local anesthesia is needed.

The word “tumescent” means swollen. In this context, it refers to a “wet technique” where fatty tissue is injected with a large volume of liquid. This fluid contains lidocaine for patient comfort, saline, and vasoconstrictors to control bleeding. The solution helps to break up and dissolve adipose tissue so that it can be removed with negative pressure, through small tubes called microcannulas. Dr. Ostad has also published a seminal article in 1997 in the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery about safety and tumescent liposuction, and the maximum safe dose of lidocaine used in liposuction.

Tumescent liposuction is now the standard of care. It results in improved comfort during and post-procedure, very little blood loss (about two tablespoons, on average), short recovery time, minimal bruising, and excellent aesthetic results. General anesthesia is not required, and the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis at Dr. Ostad’s office. Incisions are quite small, so sutures are not necessary.

What to expect from treatment

Reasonably healthy patients can expect to return home within an hour or less after the procedure is completed. Dr. Ostad’s medical team carefully monitors blood pressure and other vital signs, and makes sure any period of nausea has passed before releasing you.

Most people can return to a light duty job within two days. There is no bed confinement, and essentially no restriction on physical activities. Dr. Ostad recommends returning to mild exercise like walking or golfing within a few days, as it helps to relieve soreness. You should avoid extended periods of sitting (such as a long airplane flight) for at least a few weeks. Compression garments may be recommended to promote smooth, even healing and reduce swelling.

Swelling is gone in about a month, so results become apparent at that time. Because the adult body does not generate new fat cells, the fat is gone permanently. However, remaining fat cells will expand if weight is not maintained with a healthy lifestyle.

Are there liposuction health benefits?

The short answer is, possibly. It is important to be clear that this is a cosmetic procedure intended to improve appearance. The best candidate is someone at or near target body weight, with good skin elasticity, but stubborn zones of fat.

Liposuction is not a medical weight loss plan or a solution for obesity. However, some patients report indirect health-related benefits such as:

  • Posture – Over time, belly fat throws the spine out of alignment, resulting in a swayed back that emphasizes the abdomen. Trimming fat from this area may make it easier and more comfortable to carry yourself confidently, with shoulders back and chest out. That relieves tension in neck, shoulders, and low back, and helps to balance weight on hips, knees, and ankles.
  • Weight related diseases – Again, please be clear that liposuction is not intended to treat medical conditions related to obesity. Yet dropping pounds through any method may lower blood pressure, improve insulin resistance, and reduce cholesterol.
  • Self-improvement – Probably the biggest health benefit from liposuction is self-esteem. It is often the first – not the only – step in a lifetime program of weight maintenance. It is not uncommon for a patient to be so pleased with results of liposuction that he or she begins to eat better and exercise regularly to maintain it. That healthier lifestyle is advantageous from head to toe.

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ostad to learn more about tumescent liposuction. His number in New York City is 212-517-7900.

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Testimonials

“My Botox looks great. I look refreshed and happy and it shows! Dr. Ariel Ostad and the staff were very helpful throughout the procedure. I look forward to my next treatment.”
~ Mark. J Thompson

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