Lipoplasty, Liposculpture, and Just Plain Old Lipo …What’s the Difference?

You may be surprised, and a little disappointed, to learn that these terms all refer to the same thing. As it turns out, some plastic surgeons created these terms (there are many more) to make their technique of liposuction sound better than their competitors’. In actuality, aside from the differences between standard (tumescent)liposuction and ultrasonic liposuction, liposuction, lipoplasty, liposculpture, lipectomy, and lipo all refer to basically the same procedure. After you have a chance to review all the info on this page, be sure to visit Tips for Getting the Best Results from Liposuction, where you will learn how to expedite your recovery and reduce your risk of complications.

Liposuction is Best Suited for those who…

Are near their ideal body weight and are seeking reduction of specific areas of diet-resistant fat, such as the hips (love handles), outer thighs (saddle bags), abdomen, neck, inner thighs, knees, or arms. Those whose weight has been stable for at least 6 months do better with liposuction than those whose weight has been changing. Skin tone is also important. If you have good skin tone, your skin will retract (shrink wrap) after lipo. If you have poor tone with loose, saggy skin or stretch marks, then your skin will not tighten and may in some cases look worse.

Liposuction of the Abdomen vs. Tummy Tuck

Liposuction will reduce the thickness of your abdominal fat. It will slightly tighten your skin (provided you have no stretch marks). So, If your only problem is extra fat, then lipo is a good choice. Unfortunately, for many women (especially those who have been pregnant), the problem is more than that. In addition to excess fat, they also have loose skin, stretch marks, and a loose inner girdle (also called fascia or gristle). Liposuction will not tighten very loose skin. Nor will it remove stretch marks or tighten your loose inner girdle. If you have all of these problems and choose to have lipo instead of a tummy tuck, you will probably be very disappointed, because a tummy tuck WILL address each of these problems.

Scars

Scars are multiple and small (usually less than ¼ inch). They will be hidden in skin creases where possible. some cannot be hidden and may be highly visible for several months.

Recovery

As for anesthesia, Lipo can be performed under general anesthesia (in which you are completely asleep and paralyzed), sedation (twilight), or local anesthesia (for very small areas). It can be performed in the office or hospital. If performed in the office, be certain that your plastic surgeon’s office has been accredited and that your plastic surgeon has hospital privileges for liposuction.

Length of surgery is from 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the extent of fat to be removed. A Garment is necessary. At the completion of surgery, you will be placed in a liposuction garment, which is the equivalent to an extensive girdle. You must wear this for several weeks. After surgery, you can go home in most cases. If your surgeon performed a large-volume liposuction (over 6 -8 liters) then you should stay in the hospital overnight for observation and safety. Discomfort during your recover period varies from mild to severe. Anticipate 2-14 days of prescription
pain medication. Swelling peaks within a week and dissipates over 2-8 weeks, although it lasts longer in some. As swelling resolves, it will settle to lower parts of your body (knees, ankles, and genitalia). Do not be alarmed if your labia or scrotum swells after liposuction of your abdomen. Bruising lasts for 2-10 days. Numbness and tingling may occur in suctioned
areas and may be due to damaged or irritated nerve endings. Sensation will return, and tingling will abate over 1-3 months. Stitches will be removed in 5-10 days. You will be Presentable in a bathing suit once your bruising has resolved, and your swelling has improved (approximately 2-4 weeks).You can return to work in 5-10 days, assuming you have stopped taking prescription pain medication. If your job requires lifting, wait 2-3 weeks. Exercise may be resumed in 2-4 weeks. Exercise within 2 weeks of liposuction will increase swelling and postpone your final result. Your Final result will be seen following resolution of swelling (usually 4-8 weeks).

Ask your plastic surgeon about these complications

Fat embolus: This is a collection of fat which aggregates in the blood vessels during or after liposuction. It may travel through the circulatory system and lodge in the lungs, thereby interfering with breathing. The risk is less than 1 in 10,000, and it can be prevented through use of the smaller liposuction rods.

Blood clot in the leg: This can occur during or after ANY operation. It is more common in longer operations and in those with underlying medical problems. Be sure your surgeon protects you by using sequential compression stockings (AKA leg squeezers) for procedures lasting more than 2 hours.

Irregularities, dimples, puckers, and divots: These problems are most often related to use of the large (6-8 mm) liposuction rods, although they can occur for other reasons. Be sure your surgeon uses only the small rods (3-4 mm), which
are much less likely to cause these problems. If they occur, treatment can be difficult.

Discoloration: The skin in the area of liposuction may turn dark and blotchy following surgery. This is not common, but can occur as your skin cells release pigments while under the stress of healing. Although this can not necessarily be prevented, it often resolves on its own. Also, your plastic surgeon can prescribe topical creams containing bleaching agents which will fade your skin to its natural color.

Burning and tingling: This is common after most liposuctions and most often will resolve within 1-2 months. Occasionally, it may last for 4-6 months.

Fluid collections under the skin (seroma): This may occur after any liposuction, but is most common after
ultrasonic lipo. It can be prevented by placement of a drain by your surgeon at the time of surgery. It can be treated by using a syringe and needle to draw the fluid out (by your surgeon).

Cost of Liposuction

Nowhere in cosmetic surgery are costs more variable. The cost of liposustion may be based on volume suctioned, specific areas suctioned, number of areas suctioned, or time spent suctioning. In general, the more you have suctioned, the more you will pay. The total cost of liposuction, including surgeon fees, hospital fees, and anesthesia fees for one area is $3,200; for three areas is $5,800; and for five areas is $7,700. One “area” can be the abdomen or both outer thighs or both hips or both inner thigh or both upper arms, etc. (The above listed fees do not reflect those of Dr. Loftus. For a complete listing, visit Fees at The Loftus Plastic Surgery Center.)

Tips and Traps

  • Do not expect liposuction to improve your cellulite. It may actually worsen it. This is because cellulite is due to superficial fat, which liposuction does not remove. Lipo removes only deep fat. Visit our page on Cellulite and mesotherapy for more info.
  • Maintain stable weight before and after liposuction for the best results.
  • You cannot predict where you will gain weight following liposuction. You may regain weight in the area of liposuction, or you may develop fat deposits in other places.
  • Consider a tummy tuck rather than liposuction of your abdomen if you have loose skin, stretch marks, and a loose inner girdle.
  • Avoid liposuction of buttock creases and calves unless your surgeon is highly experienced in liposuction of these areas.
  • For more great tips, be sure to vist InfoPlasticSurgery’s Liposuction Tips page.