Liposuction, commonly referred to as simply lipo, is a fantastic tool for removing excess fat and sculpting the body. The skin, however, doesn’t always cooperate after a lipo procedure. Lipo removes unwanted body fat to create a toned and sculpted look, but that look only works if the skin snaps back against the body after the fat is gone. Some patients find that, for one reason or another, their skin isn’t elastic enough to do that. The result is sagging skin that leaves patients disappointed in their liposuction results.
This is a frustrating problem. After you’ve invested so much time, energy, and let’s be honest, money, into a plastic surgery procedure, you want to like what you see when you look in the mirror. It just doesn’t seem fair to have this kind of a problem after spending so much time learning about liposuction and researching a good surgeon. At Mia Aesthetics, we agree. And while we can’t solve every possible plastic surgery complication, we can absolutely help you avoid this one.
How Does Liposuction Work and Who is It Best For?
Liposuction works by removing excess, unwanted fat from the body. This isn’t done randomly. Instead, your surgeon will carefully and artfully remove the fat to leave you with a natural and more defined body contour. To eliminate the fat, surgeons make small incisions in the treatment area and use a special tube called a cannula to literally suck fat cells out of the body. The procedure can be done either awake or under general anesthesia.
Extremely versatile, lipo can be used on almost any part of the body. Although commonly used to treat the abdomen, flanks, and lower back, possible treatment areas include the:
Lipo works best for patients who are within about 30% of their ideal body weight and who have good muscle tone. Your surgeon can shape and sculpt your body using liposuction by removing unwanted fat, but doing so will reveal the muscle tone underneath only if you’re somewhat toned already. It cannot create an underlying muscle structure on its own. Guys, this means you can’t expect lipo to give you a six-pack you don’t already have, although it can reveal one hidden beneath stubborn fat. Liposuction also cannot remove stretch marks or cellulite, and it is not a weight loss surgery.
A Side Effect of Liposuction: Skin That Appears Loose or Saggy
Unfortunately, removing fat via liposuction can leave you with loose skin. The reasons why can vary from patient to patient. Sometimes age is the culprit. Your body produces a protein called collagen which, among other things, helps your skin regenerate and gives it elasticity. As you age your body produces less collagen. This is especially true for women, whose collagen production slows more than men’s. This means that a 50-year-old having lipo is more likely to experience drooping skin than a 20-year-old undergoing the same procedure.
Skin that has already been asked to conform to a new body shape several times can also rebel after a liposuction procedure. Women who have been pregnant several times, for example, may find that their skin is unable to snap back into shape after a lipo procedure even if it has done so admirably after each child. Yo-yo dieters and those who have experienced several weight gains and losses may also find their skin more prone to sagging after liposuction. Sometimes our skin has simply been stretched too far to recover or has done so too many times and is unable to do it again.
Sometimes the surgery itself causes the problem. The more fat you have removed during a lipo procedure, the more likely you are to have excess skin that just can’t lay firm against your new body shape. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the surgeon botched your procedure. Sometimes surgeons need to remove larger fat deposits to give you the shape you desire, and they can’t always predict how your skin will react.
Why Combine Liposuction with a Skin Tightening Treatment?
Combining a skin tightening procedure with liposuction allows you to have the procedure while you are still asleep or, in the case of awake liposuction, while you are still numb and comfortable. This means that you will experience absolutely no pain or discomfort whatsoever during your skin tightening procedure.
It’s possible to perform various skin tightening procedures after your lipo surgery, but we prefer to fix potential skin-sagging problems before you have them. Some tightening procedures can cause discomfort, albeit mild, and others require multiple treatment sessions, which means carving out time to keep coming back to the surgeon’s office. Some offer only temporary results.
At Mia Aesthetics, we use a skin tightening procedure that utilizes J-Plasma to tighten the skin. This procedure involves a wand very similar to the cannula used in liposuction procedures. Your surgeon will simply place the wand into the same incisions they made for the lipo cannula and use it to apply radio frequency (RF) to your skin. The RF shrinks your skin by heating it while helium prevents the area from getting too hot. The combination of RF and helium creates what is called J-Plasma. Shrinking your skin in this way adds no pain or recovery time to your lipo procedure, but it does prevent sagging skin after. This makes the two procedures a perfect combination.
How Long Does Skin Tightening with Liposuction Last?
The J-Plasma tightening technique that Mia Aesthetics uses during combined lipo procedures lasts about 7 years, but many patients enjoy even longer results. As previously mentioned, there are other skin tightening procedures available. There are also many serums and creams on the market that claim to firm your skin. Some of them really can help, but others are simply expensive snake oils, and sorting through all the options can be difficult. It makes much more sense to add skin tightening to your lipo procedure and get long-lasting results you can count on.
Best Practices for Making Results Last Longer
Although our skin tightening system works well, it’s important that you do your part after surgery. You will still need to wear your compression garments for the prescribed time period, even if you have your skin tightened.
As you move forward, it’s also important that you try and live a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutritious diet and a good exercise regimen. If you gain a substantial amount of weight, your skin will stretch back out to accommodate your new size. Your body will also increase the size of your existing fat cells or make new ones as necessary. Either can alter your body shape and alter the results of your liposuction procedure. Losing a lot of weight can also lead to more sagging skin.
How Much Longer Will Recovery Be When Adding Skin Tightening Treatment to a Liposuction Procedure?
Combining skin tightening with your lipo procedure won’t add to your recovery time at all. Some patients are a bit more swollen or inflamed after surgery when combining the two procedures, but this issue resolves completely in about a month. It doesn’t impact your ability to return to work or get back to your normal daily activities or exercise regimen.
Who Qualifies for a Liposuction/Skin Tightening Combo Procedure?
Candidates for a combined lipo and skin tightening procedure are:
- Generally healthy or have chronic health conditions like diabetes or hypertension under control
- Close to their ideal weight
- Known to be at risk for developing sagging skin after liposuction
- Already have some sagging skin but not so much that surgical excision is necessary
- Patients with realistic expectations about what plastic surgery can and can’t achieve
- At a current BMI of 32 or less (BMI may be higher for those who choose awake liposuction)