Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, first generated wide interest among American plastic surgeons in the early 1980s; since then, ongoing improvements in patient selection, techniques and surgeon training all have contributed to satisfying results for patients. Liposuction is the most commonly performed aesthetic (cosmetic) surgery in the United States , with the number of liposuction procedures up 111% since 1997, according to statistics from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
Liposuction is usually performed for “spot reduction” of localized fat deposits that cause unsightly bulges. The most common areas for liposuction are the hips, thighs, abdomen and buttocks, but liposuction also can remove unwanted fat from other areas including the back, upper arms, knees, calves and ankles, and also the face and neck. Some women and men may be candidates for breast reduction with liposuction.
In some cases, patients seeking body contouring may benefit from what is called the “circumferential” approach to liposuction. For properly selected patients, this approach might mean, for example, performing liposuction around the entire circumference of the thighs instead of addressing just the outer saddlebag area or the inner thigh. The circumferential approach to refining the waist might mean that contouring would be performed not only in the front abdominal area but also on the sides and back.
The Surgical Plan When being evaluated for liposuction, the patient is asked to identify the areas of most concern and to help define the specific goals for surgery. A good surgical plan, however, may not always conform to a patient’s initial expectations, and that’s where the aesthetic judgment of the surgeon is so important. For example, a patient’s expressed wish for “straight thighs” may not produce a result that is in proportion to the natural curves of the body. An aesthetic plastic surgeon must always balance the patient’s goals with what is likely to look most pleasing and natural. Communicating these aesthetic considerations to the patient so that both surgeon and patient are committed to the recommended surgical plan is essential to achieving patient satisfaction with the results of liposuction.
In the female liposuction patient, the goal is to create a smooth flow of curves, which is what the skilled aesthetic plastic surgeon strives to achieve through selective removal of fat. In a very real sense, the plastic surgeon performing liposuction is a body sculptor. Specialized plastic surgery training and experience contribute substantially to achieving excellent results from liposuction with maximum safety.
The beauty of liposuction for body contouring ultimately rests with the sculpting finesse that the trained aesthetic plastic surgeon provides. That’s why selection of an American Board of Plastic Surgery certified surgeon who has met the additional requirements for membership in the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery can be so important.