Liposuction is most often used for cosmetic purposes, to give a smoother shape to areas such as the thighs, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, calves, arms or back -- areas that haven't responded to diet and exercise. It can also be used to reduce the size of male "breasts" or to remove fat tumors (lipomas, or abnormal fatty deposits). Fat can be removed from more than one part of the body during a single surgical procedure.
It's important to note that liposuction is not a weight-loss technique; it is merely a reshaping technique. Only diet and exercise can result in real weight loss.
Having a lot of excess fat doesn't necessarily make you a good candidate for liposuction. In fact, the opposite is true. People of normal weight and in generally good shape who have a few trouble spots make the best candidates, because their skin is firm and elastic. If the skin is not elastic enough, it will remain baggy after the procedure. For this reason, older patients may not see the same type of results as younger patients. You also need to be in good shape physically to do well during the surgery.
Anyone who has diabetes mellitus, a heart condition, poor circulation, an infection, past history of bleeding or a coagulation disorder (such as thrombophilia) should check with their primary care physician before undergoing liposuction. Liposuction is also not recommended for people who are on medication that interferes with blood clotting (blood thinners such as aspirin, warfarin and heparin).
It is also important to know that liposuction is not its own medical specialty, and no specialized training is required, which means that any licensed physician, including plastic surgeons and dermatologists, can perform it. The Food & Drug Administration recommends that you ask your doctor whether he or she is specially trained to perform liposuction. It's also a good idea to ask how many procedures the doctor has performed. And don't be swayed by ads promising amazing results -- if they sound too good to be true, they probably are.
See the next page to see how the liposuction surgery is performed.