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Liposuction 101: Exploring Fat Reduction Options

Liposuction before and after with tummy tuck

53-year-old patient after liposuction and tummy tuck performed by Dr. Tracy Pfeifer

A comprehensive overview of cosmetic fat reduction procedures was recently featured in an MSNBC article that discussed not only liposuction, but also non-invasive fat reduction and abdominal skin tightening procedures.

Dr. Tracy Pfeifer, a New York liposuction surgeon specializing in body contouring, believes it’s important for patients interested in fat reduction procedures to understand the limitations of liposuction and learn about liposuction alternatives before choosing a procedure to sculpt their problem areas.

What Liposuction Can (And Can’t) Do

Liposuction surgery can permanently remove stubborn fat deposits resistant to diet and exercise from a number of body areas, including the chin, neck, chest, back, upper arms, abdomen, hips, thighs, knees and ankles.

You will not lose weight as a result of having liposuction, and the procedure is not an effective solution for stretch marks or cellulite. In fact, liposuction procedures can often make cellulite look worse, especially in patients with skin laxity and poor skin quality.

Laser Liposuction

In recent years, laser-assisted liposuction procedures that boast skin tightening effects as well as fat reduction have become increasingly popular among patients with the advent of devices like Smart Lipo, Slim Lipo and Cool Lipo.

“You don’t need laser lipo for someone with good-quality skin. It’s for an older patient who has lost elasticity,” says Dr. Barry DiBernardo, a New Jersey laser liposuction expert.

Laser liposuction devices may offer patients with mild skin laxity some tightening benefits, however more dramatic skin tightening results can only be achieved via surgical excision of loose skin.

Liposuction vs. Tummy Tuck

According to the MSNBC article, there is often confusion among body contouring patients as to whether liposuction or tummy tuck surgery is more appropriate for sculpting the abdominal region. While liposuction is ideal for removing fat, tummy tuck surgery is ideal for removing stretch marks and excess skin on the abdomen such as that which forms following pregnancy.

Liposuction Alternatives

Non-surgical fat reduction with Zerona or Zeltiq CoolSculpting devices is brand new technology that at least initially appears to reduce inches and small fat deposits in patients.

Non-invasive liposuction alternatives like lipodissolve and mesotherapy that purport to reduce fat with a series of injections are not FDA approved, and many plastic surgeons encourage patients to avoid these sometimes risky procedures.

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