Most people struggle with areas of unwanted body fat, even if they eat healthily and exercise. As the widespread use of the phrase, “skinny fat” indicates, being of normal weight (or even slim) and still having a protruding belly or chubby thighs is quite common. Why?
It’s not anything we’re doing wrong. Instead, the simple reality is the human body was designed to store fat to protect itself in times of famine. Therefore, the kinds of bodies we see on magazine covers—thin, sculpted, and with a tight abdomen rarely occur naturally. They’re usually created, either by extreme fasting (which is not advisable) or with plastic surgery.
In addition to the body’s natural tendency to store fat, several other physiological factors can contribute to the creation of stubborn fat deposits, like:
Age is the number one cause of diet-resistant belly fat in men and women. As we age, the fat cells within our bodies will gradually migrate from the extremities (hands, feet, and face) to the midsection. This aging effect means while you adjust your calorie consumption to keep pace with your changing metabolism, you may still notice an increase in belly fat by age 40. Unfortunately, it’s often impossible to rid yourself of this fat with diet or exercise. Liposuction is a viable solution to age-related fat deposits which are not related to obesity.
Hormones can wreak havoc on fat distribution, whether you’re male or female. For instance, guys who experience a decrease in testosterone levels often gain weight and lose muscle mass. They may also store more fat on the chest, leading to the emergence of male breasts.
Women with high estrogen levels and hormonal fluctuations which occur during pregnancy find it impossible to lose weight in certain areas. Some women store stubborn fat on their hips, thighs, and flanks, regardless of how slim they are.
Genetics have a great deal of sway when it comes to how much subcutaneous fat we have and where it resides. This influence is why some people cannot get a visible six pack regardless of how much they exercise, or they have a double chin even when they’re quite thin. Their bodies are programmed to retain fat in certain areas, creating anomalous features which aren’t consistent with the rest of their body’s shape. Sometimes this condition is related to genetics while other times the causes are unknown.
Lipedema is a cosmetic abnormality where excess fat cells are located on the lower extremities. As it progresses, lipedema deposits an abnormal amount of fat in the lower portion of the body producing column-like fat cuffs around the ankles while the torso remains smaller in proportion. In its later stages, fat deposits can occur in the upper arms, torso, and buttocks.
Lipedema patients have one or more of these symptoms:
- Skin changes
- Diet and exercise do not reduce excessive fat
- Knees and inner thighs accumulate excess tissue
- Lumpy skin texture
- Legs are painful to touch
- Legs swell and bruise easily
- Upper body smaller than lower body
- Fat cuffs about the ankles
- Legs shaped like stove-pipes
The Liposuction Solution
If you’re dealing with unwanted fat which will not respond to diet and exercise, liposuction can help. Liposuction is a relatively quick, low-risk procedure which immediately and permanently removes excess subcutaneous fatty tissue (fat located below the skin). In doing so, it reshapes the contours of the patient’s body, creating more balanced proportions and eliminating unsightly bulges.
How Does Liposuction Work?
The most popular liposuction technique is tumescent liposuction. During this procedure, a thin tube-like surgical instrument known as a cannula is inserted below the skin through a tiny incision. A liquid solution which contains a local anesthetic and a vasoconstrictor (to reduce pain and bleeding) is injected into the treatment site. This solution causes the fatty deposits in this area to liquefy, making the fat cells easy to remove. The unwanted fat is then removed through with suction. The procedure is relatively painless, and the administration of large amounts of local anesthetic below the skin often causes a profound numbing which helps to prevent discomfort after surgery.
In addition to tumescent liposuction, we also offer several other state-of-the-art liposuction techniques at our fully accredited facility in Northern Virginia:
Ultrasonic Assisted Lipectomy (UAL)
During ultrasonically assisted lipectomy, a wand-like instrument administers ultrasound energy to fatty deposits, liquefying them. The liquefied fat is then removed through a cannula. UAL is considered less invasive than conventional liposuction and may result in a shorter healing period. Additionally, the ultrasound energy used during UAL has been shown to tighten the skin in treated areas. Therefore, this procedure is considered ideal for patients who are struggling with skin laxity as well as stubborn fat deposits.
SmartLipo™ is a cross between nonsurgical laser fat removal and conventional liposuction. During SmartLipo™, a laser device is used to heat fat cells below the skin until they liquefy. The device will keep your skin comfortably cool during this process. The liquefied fat cells are then removed from the body using a cannula. The cannula used during this procedure is very fine, and the use of laser technology makes this procedure extremely precise. Therefore, SmartLipo™ boasts a much shorter recovery time than conventional liposuction. Patients can usually resume all normal activities (except for strenuous exercise) one to four days after having the procedure. Also, SmartLipo™ can be performed as a standalone procedure or as a complement to traditional liposuction. Learn more
Liposuction for Lipedema
While proper diet and an exercise regimen can be helpful during the early stages of lipedema, liposuction is the ideal solution to resolve fat deposits. Liposuction will bring back the normal appearance of the affected extremities and return patients to a more active and fulfilling lifestyle. There are multiple stages of lipedema including mild, moderate, and advanced phases. When a patient is diagnosed with lipedema, we offer a treatment which leads to a healthier, more comfortable life. This treatment includes the use of tumescent liposuction.
During your consultation, one of our board-certified plastic surgeons will discuss the techniques outlined above in more detail and help you choose the best liposuction method to meet your needs.
Liposuction is often incorporated into comprehensive body sculpting procedure plans. Patients who have had bariatric surgery, for example, often use liposuction to help them get rid of any fatty deposits that remain even after they have reached a healthy weight. Doing so has been shown to help formerly obese patients maintain the motivation to stay in shape and avoid regaining the weight they have lost. Liposuction is also often used during a “Mommy Makeover,” either in conjunction with tummy tuck surgery or on its own. Liposuction can even be used during facelift surgery, brachioplasty (arm lift), and breast reduction surgery for either males or females.
Because the cannulas used to perform liposuction are extremely thin, liposuction can be used virtually anywhere on the body. This is one of the key areas where liposuction differs from nonsurgical fat removal procedures, most of which are limited in their application and only cleared for use on the abdomen and back (with the notable exception of CoolSculpting, which has been approved by the FDA for use on multiple areas of the body).
Liposuction can be used to remove unwanted fat from all of the following locations on the body:
- Upper arms
For more information about the evolution of liposuction and SmartLipo, please visit the Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg blog.
What to Expect During Liposuction Recovery
Liposuction recovery is typically fairly brief, unless you elect to have a large amount of fat removed from your body during one appointment. Most people will be able to return to work within seven to ten days after having liposuction. In the case of SmartLipo™, PAL, or UAL, recovery time is often even shorter, ranging from one to seven days. When you come in for a consultation, we’ll let you know how much time you will need to take off work based on the type of liposuction you wish to have and the amount of fat you plan to have removed.
After having liposuction, you can expect to experience some swelling and bruising for several weeks. Some degree of soreness and discomfort is also common during the first week of recovery, but it can be managed with pain medication or EXPAREL® (more on this below). Liposuction patients are also issued special supportive garments that help to minimize swelling and discomfort while speeding healing.
EXPAREL® Postsurgical Pain Management
If you’re unable to take opioid pain medications or you simply don’t wish to, you’ll be happy to know that here at Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg, we give patients the option of using the EXPAREL® pain management system. EXPAREL® is a slow-release analgesic pain killer that is injected into the incision site upon completion of a surgical procedure. EXPAREL® can minimize post-operative pain and maximize comfort up to 72 hours. Because pain usually wanes naturally within three days after having liposuction, the duration of EXPAREL® is often sufficient to keep patients from experiencing significant discomfort.
Who Makes a Good Candidate for Liposuction?
Before having liposuction, it’s absolutely essential that patients understand both the potential and the limits of this procedure. Many people erroneously believe that liposuction is intended to act as a substitute for traditional weight loss methods, but this simply isn’t the case. Only about 11 pounds of fat can be removed from the human body at a time (removing more than this could send the patient into shock). Ergo, this procedure cannot make a heavy person thin overnight. Instead, liposuction is used to remove fat that hasn’t responded to diet, exercise, or bariatric surgery. The best candidates for this procedure are close to ideal body weight but having a greater BMI doesn’t prevent a person from pursuing liposuction.
Because liposuction is an invasive surgery, patients must also be in good overall health and ideally be nonsmokers in order to qualify for this procedure. When you come in for a consultation, we’ll review your complete medical history, including any medications you are taking and which surgeries you’ve had in the past. This will allow us to rule out any medical conditions or drug interactions that might increase your risk of complications. As long as you’re a good candidate for this procedure, you can rest assured that liposuction is a very safe surgery.
Liposuction “Before and After” Gallery
Want to get a better idea of what liposuction can do for you? View real life examples of past liposuction procedures we’ve performed by visiting our photo gallery.
Financing Help for Liposuction in Virginia
We can help make your procedure more affordable with discounted fees and financing options. Visit our fees and financing page for more information about how to manage the cost of liposuction. We serve patients from Virginia, including Fredericksburg, Richmond, Fairfax, and beyond.
Ready to Book Your Liposuction Consultation?
To find out if liposuction is right for you, call Plastic Surgery Services of Fredericksburg for a consultation at (540) 371-7730, or contact us online today. We look forward to helping you achieve the body you’ve always dreamed of.