By Jill Murphy, MD, plastic surgeon at UPMC Altoona Plastic Surgery
Not all of us are built with completely even proportions from head to toe. You may feel there is a part of your body that almost looks like it should belong to a different person.
This may be a pocket of fatty tissue on the outer thighs, flanks, or abdomen. No matter how strict your diet, or how long you exercise, this area doesn’t decrease in proportion to everything else.
Liposuction is a surgical technique to remove excess fat from beneath the skin. It can be done while you are fully awake, fully asleep, or somewhere in between. During the procedure, small punctures are made in the skin and a cannula (long metal tube) is inserted to suck out extra fatty tissue.
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The fat that is removed does not grow back. Fat that is left behind, however, can still increase in size with weight gain, as can fat in other parts of the body.
Recovery from liposuction involves wearing a tight garment for four to six weeks after surgery to minimize swelling. Swelling after liposuction can sometimes last a few months so your final results are often not visible until that time has passed.
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The pain after liposuction depends on the area treated. Some people don’t have much discomfort and equate it to having a large bruise. Others experience more soreness and say it feels something like being banged up in a minor fender bender.
Either way, this soreness is usually tolerable and most people are able to return to work, school, or other activities within a few days of their procedure.
In my opinion, the most important part of liposuction is patient selection. It truly is intended as a method to reduce stubborn fat in areas where the amount of fat is disproportionate to other parts of the body.
What it is not meant for, is all-over fat removal; in other words, it’s not a way to lose weight. For individuals who feel like they have too much fatty tissue evenly distributed throughout their body, liposuction will likely not produce optimal results. For them, weight loss — followed by liposuction for disproportionate areas (if needed) once their ideal weight is achieved — is the answer.
To learn more about this topic, or to schedule an appointment, contact us at UPMC Altoona Plastic Surgery, or call 814-947-5030.
Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations in central and western Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.