Weight Loss vs. Liposuction: What’s the Difference?

Having a quick, safe, and effective treatment for obesity could safeguard the health of millions of Americans. It’s therefore unsurprising that many people look to plastic surgery to help them shed excess fat when diet and exercise fail to yield meaningful results. Unfortunately, the role of liposuction in fat loss is widely misunderstood: This procedure won’t make a heavy person slim overnight, but it’s capable of doing things normal weight loss can’t. Here’s what you need to know before you schedule a liposuction consultation:

Understanding the Role of Liposuction

If you’ve ever seen “before and after” photographs of liposuction patients, you know what a dramatic difference this procedure can make in a person’s appearance. Most liposuction patients look like they’ve lost approximately 25 pounds when they’ve actually had between five and eight pounds of fat removed. These results, along with misinformation in the media, have led to the popular assumption that liposuction is a “weight loss” procedure.

The effectiveness of liposuction lies in its ability to remove fat from the key “problem areas” that we associate with looking heavy. A person might only be carrying five pounds of fat around his midsection, for example, but if it’s all packed into a distinct set of love handles, he’ll appear chubby. The same can be said of people who have a double chin even though they aren’t overweight, or who have unusually thick thighs. These individuals all have problems with fat distribution, not generalized weight gain.

Fat distribution issues, unlike generalized weight gain, can’t always be treated with diet or exercise. The idea that you can “spot reduce” fat is a myth: When you burn calories, stored energy is released from fat cells all over your body. Weight loss therefore produces a uniform reduction in total body size, regardless of whether you’re exercising your stomach, legs, or arms. No matter how much weight you lose, your proportions will stay roughly the same. This means that if you had a large belly and average-sized limbs before losing weight, you’ll probably still have a prominent stomach after losing weight—it will just be smaller than it was. These deposits of “stubborn” fat are what make body contouring procedures like liposuction a cosmetic necessity: Liposuction can permanently remove them without any of the risks associated with extreme dieting.

If you’re interested in having liposuction, you should view it as the last step in your weight loss journey. Before having this procedure, you’ll need to use conventional weight loss methods to reach a healthy BMI and reduce your total body size. After you’ve achieved this goal, analyze your body for any remaining areas of unwanted fat and decide whether or not you want surgery. If you think liposuction could help you put the finishing touches on the body you’ve worked so hard for, contact us. Our team will be happy to answer any further questions you have about this procedure.