The other day, a patient told me that her friend who had undergone treatment for liposuction didn’t see results, and the doctor told her to wait six months for all the swelling to go away before she could appreciate the wonders of the procedure.
Six months later, she was still much fuller than she wanted to be and didn’t even notice a difference.
How could this be? Isn’t liposuction recovery all about reducing the amount of fat, and hence your size? Aren’t you supposed to be smaller? Isn’t clothing going to fit differently? Shouldn’t you be getting compliments from friends and family on how nice you look? Overall, what short term and long term results should you expect after liposuction?
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon story. As soon as I heard the circumstance, I knew that her friend had liposuction that simply wasn’t performed well. Results should be immediate. You literally see a huge difference the day of the procedure. If you don’t, you either didn’t have much fat or the surgeon simply didn’t remove what she should have. Liposuction recovery is the gift that keeps giving: an immediate improvement followed by results that get better with time. Most of the swelling is gone after ten days and all of the swelling is gone by six months.
Skin retraction after liposuction is almost immediate. The skin doesn’t take time to catch up to the removal of the underlying fat—it happens during the actual procedure. There is continued shrinkage of skin for weeks afterwards as the swelling subsides, but this is nothing you will see or be able to appreciate. Only those patients with very loose or inelastic skin will not see the benefits of skin retraction with time as their skin doesn’t have the ability to contract more.
Liposuction devices or techniques that suggest faster or better skin tightening simply aren’t real. Even if they are, the actual contribution to tightening is so minimal you would never notice the difference. In many instances, this “skin-tightening” ability is based on the application of heat to the skin, essentially cooking the skin so it contracts (like a steak on the grill). Aggressive heating of the tissues can and does cause extensive scarring of the skin or underlying fat and tissues. I see this scarring when I have to perform a procedure on someone who has had energy liposuction. It makes my job more difficult and, in some cases, impossible to achieve the patient’s goal.
Inexpert liposuction continues to be one of the greatest sources of unhappy patients that I see in my practice. I have told patients for many years that those machines and the folks who are calling themselves liposuction experts are problems looking for patients. They tell patients exactly what they want to believe — no blood loss or anesthesia with miraculous skin tightening and smooth results! If only you could see what I have seen in my practice, you too would feel the pain and frustration from the many patients who find out the truth the hard way.
Austin liposuction continues to be one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures performed today. My suggestions to you are to consider liposuction only if you are at or near your BMI, to choose a plastic surgeon with vast liposuction experience, and to not base your choice on a machine or price. Don’t learn the hard way—you’re too important!