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Dr John Di Saia, an orange county california plastic surgeon

Liposuction Questions & Answers

"How long is recovery after surgery?"

This varies with the size of your procedure as well as your individual pain tolerance and the activity to which you are trying to return. Most patients are back to light activity within a week. This would be walking and lifting light objects like a phone book. Heavy activity like weight lifting or heavy aerobics is best postponed for at least 4-6 weeks.

"When can I go back to work?"

The common question here really has no definitive answer. It depends upon the patient's own level of discomfort (which is very patient specific), the amount of work done, and the nature of the job. If you think you are going to aerobics the day following your procedure, you need a reality check! :) For patients that do desk work and have less than 2000 cc removed, most can return to work within 3 days to a week.

"How about the pain after liposuction? I am a chicken."

Cases in which greater than 5 liters are removed are best served by an overnight stay, but this is not for pain control. Liposuction when performed via the Wet Technique leads to surprisingly little pain. Some surgeons do have less gentle technique and have more complaints of pain though.:) Dr D's patients are prescribed oral narcotic pain medication for a week or two. Most patients are off narcotics within a week. Individual pain tolerance has alot to do with how pain might be appreciated in your particular case. "Overdoing it" can make the pain worse.

"Is liposuction dangerous?"

Liposuction is a pretty safe procedure in the right hands. When offered for weight loss (large volume fat removal) it can be dangerous, which is why Dr Di Saia will not do it for that reason. Large volume aspiration may increase the risks of fat embolism and clots forming in the legs some of which can travel to the heart and lungs. Suffice it to say, Dr Di Saia has not to date had any complication of that magnitude. Some other local surgeons have. Maybe they are offering liposuction for weight loss.

"What does the skin feel like after liposuction?"

Nerves to the skin from the deeper body tissues are often bruised with liposuction. This results in some degree of numbness that usually resolves entirely after 4-8 weeks. Treated areas may feel numb to the touch. They might feel "thickened," which is probably bruising deep in the fatty tissues. This "thickened" feeling becomes normal over time. The areas treated in extreme cases can feel somewhat "thickened" long term as a function of healing under the skin. This is more probable in repeat liposuction cases.

"Will my tummy be flat after surgery?"

Liposuction of the abdomen will make the tummy less flat than a Tummy Tuck as only fat is removed during liposuction, but that which constitutes "flat" is subjective. Some are certainly flatter than others. Much of this has to do with technique and the particulars of how a patient will heal. Suffice it to say, if you need your tummy to be "absolutely flat" after surgery you might not be happy. If improvement is OK, you are a better candidate.

"Do I have to wear a really ugly garment after? For how long?"

Post-operative compression helps reduce swelling and provide better long term results. You will wake up in the garment that you will wear for at least 3 weeks. Patients have seen better results at times when the garment has been worn longer.

"Will I have staples or sutures? Is there a difference?"

Personally, I have not used sutures for skin closure in cosmetic surgery since I completed my first residency and started my second. Closures with staples are fast but can lead to increased scarring..."Frankenstein Marks." I have seen some of the "bargain basement" surgeons use them probably limiting operating room time and therefore making the expense less. Dr Di Saia charges a little more and closes the entire wound almost entirely with dissolving sutures, his personal choice.

"Should I try to lose weight before liposuction?"

Weight loss is of course a factor in cosmetic surgery....in the results of that surgery. I recommend that patients achieve a weight that they feel that they can maintain prior to surgery. You don't want to starve yourself down to a weight that you can't maintain only to gain a significant amount of weight after that operation. That gain might increase your chances of changing the quality of the surgical result and your desire for a revision later down the line.

"Will I lose weight after liposuction?"

Abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure. This should not be the primary motivator for surgery as weight loss usually modest. Initially you will gain weight with the swelling and water retention. Most liposuction patients lose little if any weight.

"Will the fat I have removed ever come back?"

Technically the fat cells you have removed will not come back in the vast majority of cases. The problem is that fat cells have widely variable fill capacities. The bottom line is that liposuction does not remove your body's ability to store energy as fat. It alters it. If you have problem areas that persist even though you are good with your diet and exercise routine and only have a small variation in your overall weight, then liposuction can be a good tool for you. If you have frequent and large variations in your overall weight, don't expect liposuction to solve these for you.

"I have had the procedure before. If the fat comes back can't I always just have it again?"

Re-operative liposuction is not always so successful. Frequently patients seeking more liposuction have less fat as a part of the problem than they would like to believe. This assumes that the additional liposuction is being performed in the same areas. There are cases in which additional liposuction can be helpful but generally the secondary cases have less dramatic improvements realized. Remember that all because you "can" have something done doesn't always mean that you "should" have it done. Tummy liposcution patients can sometimes be provided more significant improvements by changing the procedure to a tummy tuck. Part of a good plastic surgeon's utility to his patients is in helping you select for your best gain. :)

"What is Arnica Montana? Does it work?"

Arnica Montana is an herb that's supposed to help reduce bruising. It may be helpful although I really haven't seen much difference. It shouldn't hurt. It can be picked up at health food stores as it is not considered a drug (at least in California).

"Is Dr Di Saia Board-certified in Plastic Surgery?"

Yes, he is the "real" thing. :)


© John Di Saia, MD... an Orange County California Plastic Surgeon       

Serving Southern California since 1997 * (949) 369-5932


Please note that this resource is offered freely to individuals considering liposuction. No rights are granted and it is not to be reprinted or copied without the author's prior written consent. Understand that some of the information presented may be a matter of professional opinion. Although efforts have been made to assure accuracy, no guarantees are expressed or implied.