Liposuction Surgery Myths

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Jill Daniels, Freelance Medical Writer

Jill Daniels is a freelance health writer based in New York City. She spent several years writing for WebMD, including their Weight Loss Clinic and Fertility Center programs. Jill has also written/reported for publications including InStyle, People and Women's Own. She received a degree in journalism for Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.


May 19 2008

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With approximately 302,000 procedures performed in 2007, liposuction surgery is the second most popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Considering its popularity, you've likely heard or read about liposuction – you may even know people who have had the procedure done. But how much do you really know about liposuction surgery? Myths abound. It's time to get the facts.

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery procedure that helps contour and shape the body by eliminating diet- and exercise-resistant fat pockets from specific areas. The waist, hips, abdomen, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, neckline, and chin are some of the many parts of the body that may benefit from liposuction.

Liposuction surgery can provide wonderful results for the right person. That person may be YOU, but it's important to understand what's involved before you commit to liposuction. As with all surgical procedures, there are liposuction risks. They depend on a variety of factors including the liposuction technique used, the anesthesia required, the extensiveness of the liposuction, your overall health, and the surgeon you choose. It's important to do your homework and to have realistic expectations. Knowledge is key. Below we debunk some common myths:

Myth: Liposuction Can Be Used as a Substitute for Diet and Exercise
Fact:
If you're looking to lose weight and become healthier, there is no substitute for diet and exercise. Liposuction results may make you look and feel great, but liposuction surgery is not a weight loss procedure. Rather, liposuction is a body sculpting procedure that can help with problem areas that seem to stick around regardless of how hard you try to eliminate them at the gym. A good diet and regular exercise can help you stabilize your overall weight prior to liposuction surgery and can also help you maintain your liposuction results after your surgery. Diet and exercise are crucial elements to success – and liposuction as an alternative simply won't work.

Myth: Fat Can't Return After Liposuction
Fact:
While liposuction does in fact remove fat cells, it should not be viewed as a method for permanent weight loss. If you consume enough calories, unfortunately you will gain weight in the form of fat. Liposuction is a procedure best used to reduce "problem area" pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise – the pockets that are often predetermined by your genes. You should know, though, that even when these pockets of fat are reduced using liposuction, remaining fat cells can continue to grow if they're stimulated to do so by things like frequent meals of cheeseburgers and fries. One benefit of liposuction, however, is that even if you do gain weight after the procedure, you will likely gain it more evenly over your body rather than in the localized areas that motivated you to get liposuction in the first place.

Myth: Liposuction Can Be a Quick Fix for Obese People
Fact:
Not only can removing great quantities of fat with liposuction be dangerous, the liposuction results may disappear unless a good diet and exercise regimen is adopted. If people continue with their old patterns, they will likely gain back the weight. People who are overweight, but have been at a stable weight for many years are a different story. These people may have particular problem areas of fat that will make them good candidates for liposuction. It makes sense for a very overweight person to use liposuction if their goal is to improve the contour of a particular body part, but not for weight loss reasons.

Myth: Liposuction Can Help You Say "So Long" to Cellulite
Fact:
While it would be great if liposuction could suck away your cellulite, that's unfortunately not the case. What's more, liposuction results may worsen the appearance of cellulite. The pull on tight bands of fibrous tissue under the skin causes cellulite, and extracting the cushion of fat from just under the skin may result in additional visible rippling or dimpling of the skin.

Myth: Liposuction Is Only for the Ladies
Fact:
Men partake in liposuction, too! While women still outpace men when it comes to having liposuction surgery, men are also fond of getting rid of unwanted fat. In fact, in 2007 liposuction surgery was the third most popular cosmetic surgical procedure for men in the U.S. with 33,000 liposuction procedures (or 11% of all liposuction procedures performed), according to the ASPS.