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What are the benefits and risks of liposuction?

Healthy and active Canadians have been increasingly turning to liposuction as a means to lose fat that does not respond well to exercise and dieting. Think about fat lodged under the chin or the upper arm or around the waist. One can spend years following a strict regime to lose that fat, or they can go through a procedure that removes it forever. And it is often as good as it sounds; 86% of patients report increased self-esteem and 70% report better quality of life after liposuction. 

Learn how liposuction can help you achieve your body goals and what you need to do to minimize side effects. 

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Liposuction: A high-reward procedure with low risks 

Liposuction involves removing excess fat cells in those areas that do not respond well to exercise and dieting. This cosmetic procedure may sometimes be the only way to get rid of that stubborn fat under your chin and around your waist. The results of liposuction are often fantastic; the patient recovers to improved body contours and perfect proportions. However, the surgery does carry some risks. 

Call Dr. Peterson at the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre at (250) 868-9099 or fill out the online contact form to explore how you can safely go through liposuction without any medical complications.

What is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure that permanently eliminates “hard-to-remove” fat in the following areas: 

  • Belly
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Buttocks
  • Arms
  • Chins and face 

Fat removal entails inserting a thin tube into the treated area and suctioning out the fat deposits via a vacuum-like device. Once the fat has been removed, the skin covering the treated area settles back against the contour providing a smoother, tighter look. 

Liposuction procedures commonly take two forms:

  • Tumescent liposuction: Known as the traditional method, tumescent liposuction involves using a thin tube to suction out the fat in a back-and-forth motion. The patient is under anesthesia during the operation, as the surgeon will have to make small incisions in the treated area to insert the suction tube. 
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction: In addition to the suction tube, the surgeon inserts a small ultrasonic probe to emulsify fat deposits into the treatment area. This facilitates fat removal and reduces skin problems post-surgery. Like in tumescent liposuction, the patient is also under anesthesia.   

Neither liposuction procedure is a weight loss method and should not replace proper exercise and dieting. In fact, only patients at a healthy weight can safely receive liposuction. 

The Benefits of Liposuction 

Most patients undergo liposuction for aesthetic reasons. Indeed, successful surgery leaves patients with enhanced body contours and better proportions. A slimmer shape often improves body image and self-confidence. People need to feel good in their skin to be happy. 

However, the benefits of liposuction go beyond cosmetics. Liposuction can also treat medical conditions, such as: 

  • Lymphedema: Excess lymph can accumulate in tissues, causing swelling. Liposuction can reduce the swelling. 
  • Gynecomastia: Fat accumulates under a man’s breasts, which liposuction can remove. 
  • Lipodystrophy syndrome: This condition involves the redistribution of fat in the body. Liposuction can remove fat in some areas to improve the body’s overall fat distribution. 
  • Lipomas: Liposuction can remove benign tumours of fat cells. 

The Risks of Liposuction 

While liposuction is generally safe in the hands of an experienced surgeon, you can still minimize postoperative risks by following certain guidelines: 

  • You should avoid liposuction altogether if you have cardiac problems, diabetes, or an autoimmune disorder.
  • You should be at a healthy weight at the time of the operation. 
  • You should stop smoking several weeks before the operation.
  • You should follow all recommendations from your surgeon. This includes diet restrictions and pausing certain medications. 

Taking the right precautions dramatically increases the chances of a successful liposuction. However, as with any surgery, risk do occasionally occur:

  • Loose skin: The skin does not tightly wrap around the body’s new contours. This outcome is caused by poor elasticity in the skin. A tummy tuck may be necessary to remove the excess skin. 
  • Fluid accumulation: Lymphatic fluids can build up after the surgery and cause the affected areas to swell. Compression garments can reduce swelling, but more severe cases will need draining. 
  • Fat embolism: During liposuction, fat cells enter the blood vessels instead of being suctioned out. Fat embolism is usually temporary and is rarely fatal. 
  • Lidocaine toxicity: Lidocaine is an anesthetic often administered during surgery. While safe in controlled dosage, more than 55 milligrams per kilogram can lead to dizziness, nausea, and sometimes cardiac arrest. 

Is Liposuction for You? 

Liposuction may be the remedy that finally removes persistent fat deposits around your hips, on your upper arms, or under your chin. Whether tumescent or ultrasound-assisted, liposuction could be the key to a more attractive figure and higher self-confidence. While the procedure is not without complications, most can be avoided or managed with the correct preparation. 

Call Dr. Peterson at the Okanagan Health Surgical Centre at (250) 868-9099  or fill out the online contact form to find out if liposuction is for you. 



Q: Should liposuction be used to lose weight?

A: No. Liposuction is not designed to help you lose weight and should not replace exercise and dieting. In fact, you should be at a healthy weight before undergoing these surgeries. 

Q: Are the results of liposuction permanent?

A: Yes. Liposuction permanently removes fat cells. However, fat cells in other parts of your body can still expand as you gain weight. 

Q: Does liposuction remove stretch marks or cellulite?

A: No. Liposuction does not remove stretch marks or cellulite.  

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I recently had liposuction done by Dr. Peterson to fix Coolsculpt I had had done that left me uneven. He was very professional, caring and compassionate and assured me everything could be fixed. I can't express my gratitude to Dr. Peterson for what an amazing job he did and how well he took care of me. I would highly recommend him to anyone looking for a plastic surgeon, in fact I have recommended him to many friends and they have all been very happy. My experience at the clinic was amazing, right from the beginning talking with Cynthia and the amazing care I got from all the nurses, I felt very special.

T. G.

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