No matter what kind of shape you’re in, we all have pockets of fat that are located in areas that are virtually impossible to target with changes in diet and exercise alone. The abdomen, flanks, upper arms, and even our jowls — fat accumulates in these areas and just won’t leave!
But liposuction with Dr. Jessica Belz in San Antonio, TX will get rid of these pockets of unwanted fat, giving you a slimmer contour. Liposuction today is minimally invasive, leaves little, if any, scarring and doesn’t involve a difficult recovery. What’s not to love?
What is liposuction?
Liposuction first came to the United States from France in the 1980s. The original procedure was pretty violent, as it involved larger cannulas that had to be moved aggressively back and forth to break loose and suction out the unwanted fat. Of course, this led to extensive tissue trauma, which created extensive, lingering bruising. This bruising often wouldn’t fully clear for months.
Modern liposuction has come a long way. Today, Dr. Belz uses the tumescent method, where a saline solution containing lidocaine is first injected into the treatment area to minimize the pain and firm the fat, making it easier to remove. The solution also contains epinephrine to constrict the blood vessels, limiting blood loss and bruising. A cannula is then inserted to suction out the fat and liquid. The cannulas used in modern liposuction are much smaller, so the corresponding incisions needed to access the fat pockets are very small.
How is liposuction performed?
Dr. Belz performs liposuction as an outpatient procedure, with the patient under IV sedation or general anesthesia. The first step is to inject the tumescent solution, a mixture of saline, lidocaine, and epinephrine. As mentioned above, this solution has multiple benefits compared to traditional liposuction. First, the lidocaine anesthetizes the treatment area. Second, the epinephrine constricts the blood vessels so there is dramatically less blood loss and subsequent bruising. And the saline solution and epinephrine help to constrict the fat cells, making them easier to break loose and suction out with the cannula.
To insert the cannula, Dr. Belz makes a tiny incision. She then moves the cannula throughout the treatment area, suctioning out the fat and most of the tumescent solution. She doesn’t remove all of the fat so that the patient has a much slimmer, but still natural looking, final result.
Once the cannula is withdrawn, Dr. Belz closes the tiny incision(s) and covers it with a bandage, prior to placing a supportive, compression garment.
Who is a good candidate for liposuction?
Patients sometimes believe liposuction can be used as a weight-loss procedure, but this is not the case. In fact, removing too much fat can be dangerous. Liposuction is meant to remove isolated pockets of fat that don’t respond to changes in diet and exercise. Virtually everyone has such pockets somewhere on their body.
Here are the characteristics Dr. Belz seeks with her liposuction patients. The patient has firm skin with good elasticity (this is important for the skin to adhere to the new slimmer contour following the fat removal). The patient is within 15% of their ideal body weight and that weight has been consistent for a length of time.
What areas of my body can be treated?
A better question would be — where can’t I have liposuction? Techniques have become so refined, liposuction can be performed just about anywhere on the body. Dr. Belz performs liposuction for her patients on these areas:
- Inner knees
- Bra strap line
What is my recovery like after liposuction?
Following your procedure, the treated areas will be wrapped to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. Compression garments are an important part of liposuction recovery. They will need to be worn on treated areas for approximately six weeks following your liposuction. This not only reduces swelling, but also helps the skin and tissue adapt to their new slimmer contours. There will be some bruising and swelling that will take up to 10 days to resolve. Most patients can return to work in two or three days, unless they have had multiple areas treated. In those cases, you may need a week off work. In most cases, scars are so small as to be virtually invisible. Recovery from liposuction with Dr. Belz is not difficult, but does require time off from strenuous exercise and heavy lifting.
How is liposuction different from a tummy tuck?
These procedures are often confused, but they are really dramatically different. All they have in common is that they can both be done on the abdomen.
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure where the primary goal is to remove loose, sagging skin that is left over from pregnancy and childbirth, or from the gain and subsequent loss of a large amount of weight. In either situation, the stomach skin and underlying support tissues have been stretched to a degree that they cannot tighten back down to their former contour. The patient has a stomach pooch that cannot be tightened with diet and exercise. The procedure trims away this excess skin and can also pull separated stomach muscles back together to the midline. The tummy tuck incision is a long horizontal incision, wrapping from hipbone to hipbone on the lower incision, with a second smaller incision around the navel. Due to the tissue excision and extensive repositioning, tummy tucks involve a more involved recovery period.
Liposuction doesn’t remove excess, sagging skin. Instead it removes pockets of fat beneath the skin, slimming the contour. That’s why it is important for Dr. Belz’s liposuction patients to have good elasticity in their skin, so it is able to tighten down over the new slimmer contour once the underlying fat is removed.
What are the risks involved with this procedure?
Liposuction is an invasive procedure, and it involves the typical risks involved with surgery, such as bleeding, infection, and reaction to the anesthetic, but these are rare with modern liposuction. Complications specific to liposuction are:
- Contour irregularities — The treated area can appear bumpy or wavy. If the patient has inelastic skin, this is more prevalent.
- Numbness — Any numbness in the area is usually temporary, but it can endure.
- Fluid accumulation — Temporary pockets of fluid (called seromas) can form. These may need to be drained.
Overall, liposuction with Dr. Belz is a safe and very satisfying procedure for her patients, helping them slim their contours in areas that have been difficult to adequately target with dietary changes and exercise.
What happens if I gain weight after having liposuction?
Liposuction permanently removes fat cells from the target areas. If you maintain your weight, your results will last for the rest of your life. A small weight gain will make existing fat cells accumulate more fat within the existing cells. However, a large weight gain can lead to the development of new fat cells. The key to great long-term results from liposuction is simply to adapt a new healthier approach to life, maintaining your weight for the long haul.