When I was younger, I’d eat whatever I wanted and never gained excess weight. But of late, I’ve been struggling with stubborn fat around my belly. While working out is an option, I’ve found myself wondering, “how much weight can you lose with liposuction?”
Usually, the maximum amount of fat removed during liposuction is between 5 and 8 pounds, which only causes a small weight change. Removal of high volumes of fat increases complications. Weight loss isn’t the primary purpose of liposuction. It is intended to improve physical physique by removing stubborn fat in problem areas like the arms, abdomen, knees, neck, and love handles.
Let’s take a closer look at what liposuction is, its goals, limits, and everything in between.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is also known as lipoplasty, lipectomy, or just lipo. It is a cosmetic procedure designed to rid body fat in stubborn areas to contour the body and improve your shape.
Often, the procedure is done to get rid of excess fat deposits on the thighs, abdomen, flanks, neck, back, and hips. Surgeons make small incisions in the body and insert a small tube (cannula) connected to a suction machine to suck out the fat. The procedure can be done under general or local anesthesia.
Different liposuction techniques exist differing in fat treatment methods before suction.
- Tumescent liposuction – this is the most popular method. Surgeons inject a sterile solution in the target area. The solution contains an anesthetic (lidocaine), salt solution, and epinephrine. Lidocaine numbs the target area before and after the plastic surgery, and epinephrine reduces blood loss, swelling, and bruising. The salt solution helps to remove the fat easily. The injected solution is suctioned out along with the fat. This method takes longer than most.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) – this technique uses ultrasonic vibrations to liquefy the fat cells. Once liquefied, the fat cells can be vacuumed out. The technique can be accomplished externally using a special emitter or internally using a heated cannula. UAL is often used to remove fat from thick, fiber-filled spots like an enlarged male breast tissue or the upper back. For better results, UAL is combined with tumescent liposuction.
- Laser-assisted liposuction – it uses laser energy to turn existing fat cells into liquid. Once liquefied, the fat can be drained out via small tubes or vacuumed. Because the cannula used for this technique is smaller than normal, surgeons use the technique on the face, jowls, and chin. One benefit of this technique is that the laser energy also stimulates the production of collagen, which helps make the skin tighter after the procedure.
- Power-assisted liposuction – surgeons use a vibrating cannula to suction the fat out in this technique. The technique is ideal for individuals who want a lot of fat removed.
Can liposuction remove 100 pounds?
Expect to lose anywhere between 1 and 10 pounds. While the FDA has capped lipo fat removal at 11 pounds (5 liters of fat), it doesn’t mean you should get this much removed. In fact, the average fat removal is 5 pounds.
Removing a dramatic amount of fat increases the chances of complications. If you need multiple areas worked on to remove a total of 5 liters of fat, the surgical procedure should be divided into two 12 weeks apart. Because of this, you shouldn’t expect drastic weight loss through liposuction, there are other weight loss procedures that focus on that. However, because fat is removed from cosmetically crucial spots, lipo can significantly improve how you feel and look in clothing.
NB: liposuction doesn’t improve skin condition. Liposuction is often combined with skin removal surgery to remove excess and sagging skin and create a smoother contour. In situations where weight loss leaves you with saggy boobs, you can consider a breast augmentation.
Are Liposuction results permanent?
Yes, the results achieved through liposuction are permanent. However, this is only if you lead a healthy lifestyle after the surgical procedure.
After lipo, the surgeon will give you medical-grade compression garments and instructions on how you can care for your body. If you stick to the instructions anddon’t gain drastic weight, your new body shape can be permanent. But if you gain weight after the procedure, then
you’ll end up with a larger version of your new body shape. The dramatic results you saw immediately after the procedure will be less defined.
The fat cells removed during the procedure won’t grow back. So the remaining fat cells will only enlarge with mild weight gain. However, gaining over 10% of your body weight after liposuction will lead to the growth of new fat cells in treated and untreated body parts, counteracting liposuction results. The good news is that fewer fat cells regrow in previously treated areas than in untreated areas.
How many sizes do you lose with liposuction?
Depending on the treatment areas, you can lose two dress sizes. Generally, you can expect to lose an inch for every five pounds of fat lost. Moreover, you’ll realize your current clothes fit and drape better than before.
How do you keep results after liposuction?
You can maintain liposuction results by eating healthy, regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. These things require dedication and creativity in the first couple of weeks post-operation since activity levels will be limited.
- Regular exercise – after getting clearance to indulge in vigorous activities, you can continue or begin regular exercises. Your goal should be 30 minutes of exercise a day.
- A healthy diet – exercising can only do so much for you if you still indulge in unhealthy, fatty, and processed foods. Limit your sugar intake and saturated fats, including beef, soft drinks, and dairy products. You can replace meat with legumes, beans, and other high-protein foods. Also, eating the right amounts of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbs can help maintain your new weight and shape.
- Drink enough water daily – drinking lots of water can help keep your energy levels high and keep you from getting hungry fast. Also, proper hydration helps digestion and metabolism.
- Eat smaller meals – having 5 or 7 smaller meals a day instead of three will help you avoid snacking. Eating smaller meals helps you track calories better.
- Keep your post-lipo weight – if you went for lipo weighting 145 pounds then lost 10 pounds, you should work hard to remain 135 pounds.
What is the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction?
The key difference is where the plastic surgeon will remove excess fat. Liposuction is done on several body parts, while a tummy tuck focuses on the abdominal area. Moreover, the excess skin is removed in a tummy tuck, and the abdominal muscles are tightened. Because of this, liposuction is better for people with good skin elasticity since the skin can bounce back post-op.
The recovery times between the two procedures vary as well. Generally, a liposuction patient can return to work after a week, while a tummy tuck patient needs ten days. For strenuous activities, you should allow between three and six weeks after the liposuction surgery.
Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
Generally, a good candidate for this body contouring procedure is:
- An adult that’s within 30% of their healthy weight and has firm, elastic skin with great muscle tone
- In good health and without life-threatening conditions or sicknesses that can affect healing process
- Not a smoker
- Reasonable in their goal weight and a positive outlook on the procedure
- Committed to a healthy lifestyle
Is there a BMI requirement for liposuction?
There isn’t a set weight limit that’ll disqualify you from liposuction. However, many plastic surgeons won’t take you if your BMI is over 30. When you are obese, the risks of complications are higher. However, there are some exceptions, so you should always consult your surgeon to know your options.
But generally, since liposuction isn’t a weight loss procedure, overweight and obese individuals will have better weight loss results through exercise and dieting or bariatric procedures like gastric bypass surgery.
Does Liposuction Remove or Reduce The Appearance of Cellulite?
Liposuction treatment alone cannot get rid of cellulite. When the skin tone is poor, it can make dimpling more visible. Pairing liposuction with laser treatments can help reduce cellulite.
When can I see liposuction results?
You’ll see fat reduction results (contouring) almost immediately after the procedure. But the full benefits of the procedure will manifest between 1 and 3 months post-operation. How long it takes depends on the amount of fat that’s removed.
The final results take time to stabilize because of:
- Initial swelling – like other surgical procedures, liposuction will cause swelling, which makes it hard to see results. So instead of looking toned and trimmed, post-op swelling will cause you to look like you’ve retained water. However, you can manage the severity of the swelling by wearing the compression garment as the surgeon directs, hydrating, and avoiding foods high in sodium.
- Skin contraction – after removing excess fat, the skin needs some time to retract and tighten. This process takes time and varies from patient to patient. Some see final results between three and six months, while others wait for up to a year.
Should I lose weight before liposuction?
Maintaining the contour results of liposuction requires you to maintain your weight before liposuction. So while losing weight before the procedure is not mandatory, it’s best to achieve a stable weight you are confident you can maintain after the procedure. If you lose too much weight, it might be difficult to maintain it, and the liposuction results may not be as visible after some time.
How long does the liposuction procedure take?
A liposuction procedure lasts for several hours and depends on the surgeon, patient, and how much fat needs to be removed. For instance, work on smaller areas like the neck can take 20 minutes, while larger areas like the abdomen can take an hour.
In addition to these factors, you need to consider that you’ll need to get to the surgeon’s office 30 minutes before the surgery. You might take an extra 30 – 60 minutes to come to after the surgery and about a couple of hours before you feel normal. In total, expect it to take two or three hours of your day.
A surgery lasting over three hours is likely to cause prolonged recovery times and increased complications. Usually, long lipo surgeries involve suctioning a lot of fat which isn’t recommended.
How should I prepare for liposuction?
Preparations for liposuction start two to four weeks before the scheduled surgery date. To ensure the surgery is smooth:
- Get a medical evaluation
- Present your surgeon with a list of all current supplements and medication you take so that they know what adjustments to make
- Quit smoking and avoid drinking alcoholic drinks
- Avoid sunbathing
Adjust your diet to focus on foods that increase skin elasticity and promote healing during this time. To achieve this, target foods rich in anti-oxidants and water:
- Squashes like zucchini
- Healthy oils like walnut and olive oil
- Some spices like turmeric and cinnamon
When should you stop eating before liposuction?
You should stop drinking 6 hours before the surgery and stop eating 8 hours before the surgery. Also, you shouldn’t apply body creams or moisturizers the day before the surgery. Shower in the morning of the surgery of the night before.
How bad does liposuction hurt?
The pain varies from patient to patient. For most patients, it feels like you have a giant bruise on the treated spot. However, the pain shouldn’t be too severe that it prevents you from focusing on other activities like walking, watching TV, and reading.
For patients who have a realistic expectation of the pain and don’t spend a lot of their recovery period in bed or lounging the whole time, the pain levels are usually lower than expected.
Can liposuction cause scars?
It’s uncommon to have significant scarring after liposuction. Plastic surgeons take necessary precautions during the procedure to minimize scarring. Usually, the surgeon will make a tiny incision in the least noticeable spot.
In cases where scarring occurs, it can be due to poor placement of the incision. After healing, hyperpigmentation can also make the incision appear more prominent on the skin.
Why is my stomach so hard after liposuction?
After surgery, the skin develops scars and adhesions as a normal part of healing. In some instances, there’s an abnormal fibroblast (connective tissue) production in bands connecting multiple tissues, resulting in hardness under the incision.
Wounds heal in different stages, and the process commences when the surgeon first makes an incision. Acute stages of inflammation and coagulation usually take minutes or a couple of days. On the other hand, remodeling and proliferative stages take a couple of days, weeks, or longer.
Although different cells play a part in fibrosis, the fibroblast is the main character in remodeling and collagen deposition. Excess fibrous tissue might be painful and affect body functions for some people.
Take the first step
If you’ve always wanted to have liposuction but talked yourself out of it, but you are now sold, don’t wait a moment longer. As you make plans for the surgery, remember, the purpose of liposuction isn’t weight loss but contouring your body. It’s also wise to walk the journey with your surgeon to manage expectations, reduce risks and achieve the best results.
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