Power Assisted Liposuction

As men and women age, the body may begin to store fat differently. Oftentimes, even those who eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly discover that they have isolated areas of fat that prove resistant to traditional weight loss methods. With liposuction, our plastic surgeon in St. Louis—Jeffrey Copeland, MD—can remove this excess fat to help patients attain a slimmer, more toned silhouette.

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure designed to target and eliminate areas of stubborn fat, improving the body’s shape and contours. This versatile procedure can be used to reduce fat at nearly any area of the body where excess fat has accumulated. It is important to know that liposuction is indicated for body contouring and not as a means for weight loss. Liposuction can rejuvenate the appearance of the body, improve body proportions, and achieve a youthful figure with natural-looking results.

What Are the Benefits of Liposuction?

It can be difficult for individuals to get rid of fat that is particularly resistant to dieting and exercise. Liposuction performed by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can dramatically improve the contours of the body by removing those stubborn, isolated pockets of fat. Other advantages of liposuction surgery include:

  • Minimal scarring – liposuction incisions are usually very small and can be virtually unnoticeable when fully healed.
  • Targeted sculpting and fat loss – Dr. Copeland can identify problem areas and remove excess fat from just about any area of the body to help you achieve a more contoured physique.
  • Long-lasting results – liposuction permanently removes fat cells and the results can be maintained with a good diet and fitness regimen.

What Areas Can Be Treated with Liposuction?

Liposuction can treat stubborn fat from virtually any part of the body. Patients usually undergo liposuction to address their concerns in the following areas:

  • Abdomen
  • Flanks (love handles)
  • Hips
  • Thighs
  • Knees
  • Chin
  • Neck
  • Buttocks
  • Waist
  • Upper arms

If you would like fat removed from various parts of the body, Dr. Copeland can discuss how many sessions you may need to achieve your ideal results. One session is usually enough to address fat in multiple areas, but Dr. Copeland will personally work with you to create an individualized treatment plan suited for your unique needs and cosmetic goals.

Can Liposuction Be Combined with Other Procedures?

It is not uncommon for liposuction to be performed simultaneously with another cosmetic procedure. Here are a few examples of complementary surgeries that can be combined with liposuction:

Tummy Tuck with Liposuction – Liposuction solely targets excess fat, while a tummy tuck surgery can eliminate/tighten redundant skin and repair stretched abdominal muscles. Liposuction and tummy tuck surgery address different concerns but when the two procedures are performed together, they can beautifully contour the abdominal region. Women who present redundant skin and stretched abdominal muscles in addition to stubborn fat can tremendously benefit from a combination of tummy tuck and liposuction.

Breast Lift or Breast Augmentation with Liposuction – Some women who undergo breast lift or breast augmentation surgery may have redundant fat or bulkiness in the sides of their breasts and upper armpit. In these cases, Dr. Copeland may recommend liposuction to help remove fat from the axillary rolls and/or upper back.

Mommy Makeover – Dr. Copeland offers a mommy makeover for mothers who want to change specific areas of the body (abdomen, breasts, hips, and thighs) and face to regain a more youthful appearance. One of the most common procedures to include in a mommy makeover is liposuction and many patients decide to add a breast augmentation, breast lift, and/or tummy tuck. A mommy makeover can help your body regain a more toned appearance that can look very similar to your pre-baby body.

Liposuction is one of the most common cosmetic procedures to be combined with other surgeries. Undergoing more than one procedure simultaneously instead of separately typically gives the patient the advantage of minimizing surgical trauma and recovery time.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Liposuction?

Candidates for liposuction are typically women or men who wish to remove superficial fat from one or more areas of the body. Common areas targeted with liposuction include the abdomen, flanks (love handles), hips, lower back, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, neck, and chin. Some men may also choose liposuction to reduce fat on the chest. Ideal candidates are already at or near their ideal weight, have good skin elasticity, and wish to use liposuction as a means of addressing problem areas that have proven difficult to target with exercise. Candidates should also be in good overall health, avoid smoking for several weeks (both before and after the procedure), and have realistic expectations about the results liposuction can accomplish.

While some patients choose to combine liposuction with an additional procedure, such as breast augmentation, others find that they are better candidates for abdominoplasty or post weight loss body contouring due to excess skin and/or skin laxity that cannot be corrected with liposuction.

The best way to determine your candidacy for liposuction or another procedure is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Copeland. During the consultation process, he will provide an honest assessment of whether the procedure you are considering is appropriate for your purposes and safe enough to perform. Dr. Copeland is committed to setting realistic expectations for his patients and will not over promise on the results that can be achieved. For your ultimate benefit, Dr. Copeland may decline to operate as his patients’ safety and the quality of their results are among his primary concerns.

Which Liposuction Techniques Are Available?

Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL).
Traditional liposuction is referred to as suction-assisted liposuction. This is a standard technique that uses a small cannula (hollow metal tube) and suction apparatus to remove fatty tissue. A surgeon makes tiny incisions in the targeted areas and manually performs back and forth movements with the cannula to break down and extract fat.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL).
Similar to SAL, PAL uses a small cannula and suction apparatus. The difference is that the PAL cannula vibrates rapidly to help remove fat more precisely and with less effort. Dr. Copeland typically uses this method to address excess fat since it can be a gentler approach when compared with traditional liposuction.

How Is the Liposuction Procedure Performed?

Depending upon the location of the target area, Dr. Copeland typically performs power-assisted liposuction (PAL) using a blunt-tipped cannula to minimize injury to nerves and blood vessels. PAL is highly effective in removing localized deposits of adipose (fat) tissue that are often responsible for undesirable appearance. The PAL method uses small incisions at the target site through which the blunt hollow metal cannula is inserted. The blunt-tipped cannula allows Dr. Copeland to push into the area of fat accumulation, while suction pulls the fat cells through holes in the cannula and out of the body. A three-stage process that loosens and removes the fat and, finally, optimizes contours is generally used as well. This process causes reduction in the thickness of the fat deposit and improves the overlying body contour. The duration of the liposuction procedure using the PAL technique is usually abbreviated compared with other methods.

What Is Liposuction Recovery Like?

Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) is considered to be a gentler approach than traditional liposuction techniques which require the surgeon to manually break up fat cells with vigorous physical effort. The traditional technique tends to damage surrounding tissue and can sometimes create significant blood loss. With PAL there is typically less swelling and bruising, which helps reduce the recovery time. The degree of post-operative pain following liposuction tends to vary from patient to patient—while some individuals find their discomfort to be significant, many are able to return to normal activities quickly.

Dr. Copeland recommends that his patients wear a compression garment at the surgical site for several weeks after the procedure to facilitate the healing process. Most patients can return to work or their normal daily activities within a few days to one week, depending upon the volume of fat that has been removed. Patients should also avoid strenuous exercise for approximately four weeks to allow the body to properly heal.

Is Liposuction Safe?

When liposuction is performed by an experienced plastic surgeon utilizing advanced technologies and careful, precise surgical techniques, the safety of the procedure can be maximized. While there are risks involved with any type of surgery, Dr. Copeland takes many precautions to reduce those risks. In addition to the extensive skills and training he has acquired for liposuction procedures and the fact that he has successfully performed these treatments many times, Dr. Copeland typically utilizes a state-of-the-art, power-assisted liposuction technique that can enhance safety even further. We encourage you to ask any questions you may have about the measures Dr. Copeland takes to provide the safest liposuction procedure possible.

Are There Any Liposuction Side Effects?

Bruising, swelling, and even some degree of numbness in the treatment areas are common side effects of liposuction and should dissipate over the course of the healing process. Some degree of soreness and tenderness in the treatment sites can also be expected during recovery; however, discomfort following liposuction surgery is usually minimal and can often be well managed with medication. Although rare, some individuals may experience a “seroma” in the surgical area after the procedure. Seromas are accumulations of fluid under the skin that should be evaluated immediately if they appear. Additionally, one of the potential long-term side effects of liposuction is weight redistribution. Once the fat cells in a particular area of the body have been removed, they cannot return. However, this may result in fat collection in other body regions that would have originally collected in the area treated with liposuction. This possibility can be reduced by sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine in order to limit fluctuations in weight as much as possible following the liposuction procedure.

What Are My Liposuction Alternatives?

In some cases, patients who are not ideal candidates for liposuction or those who would like to explore non-surgical alternatives to that procedure may benefit from an innovative treatment called CoolSculpting®. Designed to help individuals reduce isolated pockets of fat in an array of body areas, CoolSculpting® works by essentially “cooling” the excess fat cells in the targeted region. The process ultimately breaks down and destroys the fat cells, which are then eliminated from the body naturally over the next few months. CoolSculpting® is often desirable among patients because it requires no surgery, anesthesia, or extensive recovery periods; however, this treatment does have its limits when compared to liposuction, making it a good option for some, but perhaps not the best choice for others. For example, CoolSculpting® is typically more effective in patients who have mild to moderate degrees of excess fat in the area they would like to address, while surgical liposuction will likely be recommended in cases of significantly large fat pockets. Liposuction also is typically done as a single treatment, whereas CoolSculpting® may require more than one episode of treatment. Once you meet with Dr. Copeland for your initial consultation, he will evaluate the areas of concern and help you determine whether liposuction or CoolSculpting® offers the best option for your needs and goals.

How Much Does Liposuction Cost?

Each liposuction procedure is planned to optimize the outcome for that patient. As a result, the cost of liposuction can vary among patients. The approximate cost range for liposuction procedures at our practice ranges from $1800-$6000.

Many variables can impact the total price of liposuction, including which areas are being targeted, the number of treatment areas, and the volume of fat that is removed. At the conclusion of your initial consultation, Dr. Copeland can provide you with an accurate quote for the cost of your customized procedure. For patients who might benefit from a monthly installment plan, financing options are available to qualified applicants. To learn more about financing the cost of your liposuction procedure, please talk with a member of our staff.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Liposuction

  • Can liposuction help me lose weight?

    Liposuction is not specifically designed to be a weight loss procedure but rather crafted for removing excess, stubborn fat. Ideal candidates should be at or near their goal weight before receiving liposuction treatment. It is also important to note that the procedure will not prevent future weight gain either. Patients should maintain a proper diet and exercise after surgery to enjoy the benefits and results of liposuction for longer.
  • Does liposuction get rid of cellulite?

    Liposuction may help reduce the appearance of cellulite, but it is typically not an ideal treatment for getting rid of cellulite entirely. If you are concerned about cellulite, Dr. Copeland would be happy to discuss other options that may be more suitable for your needs and goals during your consultation.
  • How much fat can be removed with liposuction?

    The amount of fat that can be removed with liposuction will be different for every patient. Generally speaking, liposuction can typically get rid of about six to eight pounds of fat depending on the individual. During your consultation, Dr. Copeland can give you a better estimate of how much fat can be removed.
  • Will liposuction help tighten my loose skin?

    While liposuction can effectively remove large amounts of fat from a variety of areas of the body, it does not specifically tighten loose skin. Patients who have excess or lax skin may be better suited for a tummy tuck or post weight loss surgery. These procedures can be performed in conjunction with liposuction for more comprehensive results.
  • Are liposuction results permanent?

    Liposuction is designed to permanently remove fat from the body; however, gaining weight after the procedure can compromise results. The best way to keep your body contoured after treatment is by maintaining a stable weight, which is why we recommend sticking to a healthy diet and exercise regimen after liposuction.
Contact Copeland Cosmetic Surgery
To find out more about liposuction or to see if you are a good candidate for the procedure, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.