Episode 18: What Parts of My Body Can I Liposuction? Can we do all of it?!
What parts of my body can I liposuction? I love this question because it is so often that someone comes into my office for a liposuction consultation and says, "Dr. Smith, just take it all." Well, we can't always quite do that. But in today's episode, I want to give a rundown of the most popular areas that we can treat with liposuction, and some of the considerations for each of those areas, and then we'll wrap up with some special tricks for achieving a stellar result. So let's get started and move through these areas from head to toe.
Can I liposuction my chin?
And we'll begin with what's commonly called liposuction for the chin. So just to clarify some terms here, when we talk about liposuction for the chin, what we're really discussing is contouring the area underneath and behind the chin, which is called the submental region, so we often refer to this as submental liposuction. And the goals here are to eliminate any double chin that is present and also to achieve a very strong, clear jawline. And when you do these things together, getting rid of a double chin and achieving a really strong jawline, the net effect is that you're improving the facial profile as a whole and defining and framing the lower facial third really nicely.
Can men liposuction their chest?
So having handled the submental region or liposuction for the chin or double chin and jawline, we can move a little further now and discuss liposuction for the chest, generally performed in men. And liposuction for the chest in men is performed as part of what we call gynecomastia surgery or surgery to reduce the prominence of the male chest for people that have the appearance of male breast development. And liposuction for this purpose can be an extremely powerful option. It's important to remember though, that all men do have breast tissue in addition to fat that's comprising their chest volume.
So when we're performing gynecomastia reduction procedures, a lot of this is about determining how much of the chest volume is comprised of fat versus breast tissue, because the fat is going to be very responsive to liposuction whereas the breast tissue will be less responsive. And then we have to talk about other techniques to reduce that tissue, which we'll get to in another episode about gynecomastia surgery. So for the purpose of this overview, we can just say that liposuction does play a very important role in contouring the male chest.
How can I get rid of my bra roll?
So right next to the chest on either side, we of course have the armpits. And the armpits have become an increasingly important focus in aesthetics, especially with regards to the bulge of fat that can develop under the arm and often can spill over the side of a bra or peek out of a tank top and cause an appearance that people really just don't love. And this underarm fat or armpit fat is something that we can really treat extremely effectively with liposuction.
How does arm liposuction work?
So let's move out to the sides now and talk about liposuction for the arms. Arm liposuction essentially has three primary goals. The first is to decrease the circumference of the arms just to make them look less bulky. The next thing is to expose the muscles of the arm to improve the contour and definition. And when these things are done together, you can really gain a nice athletic appearance of the arms and this lends to an overall helpful appearance for your body.
Can I liposuction my stomach?
Moving on to the abdomen or the stomach area, liposuction for the stomach or abdomen might be the most popular liposuction that we're performing in our practice. And the goal here is to decrease the overall bulk of the abdomen and to reveal the underlying musculature, those rectus abdominis muscles, so you can start to see a six pack in a lot of people. And the goal for liposuction of the abdomen is to achieve that well contoured look that's really associated with health and vitality and it just calls attention to the fact that you've got a toned core.
And when we're dealing with liposuction of the abdomen, it's important to realize that there are two kinds of fat in the abdominal area. The first one is what we call superficial fat or subcutaneous fat. And the other is what we call it deep fat or visceral fat. And superficial fat is the fat that's between your skin and your abdominal wall. And the abdominal wall is made up of connective tissue and those rectus abdominal muscles. And deep fat or visceral fat is the fat that is underneath the abdominal wall and surrounding your internal organs.
The superficial fat is the fact that we can treat very effectively with liposuction. That deep fat, we really can't get to it with liposuction or any surgical method because it's just not safe given the closeness or proximity of those organs. And this is where the importance of going to a true body contouring expert is highlighted because that person will examine you and help you determine how much of this superficial fat versus deep fat you have to understand if liposuction of the abdomen is a good option for you. A quick way to look at this at home is to pinch your belly. And as a rule of thumb, the fact that you're pinching is superficial fat, fat that's above the abdominal wall, and this can be treated with liposuction.
How can I get rid of my love handles?
Now let's move out to the sides a little bit and talk about liposuction of the waist. Liposuction of the waist really plays a critical role in controlling the body's overall contour. And for men, the goal liposuction of the waist is to help them achieve this V-shape where they have broad shoulders and a relatively narrower waist. And in women, the goal of waist liposuction or liposuction of the flanks is to help to achieve a nice hourglass appearance.
And what we're really talking about in both of these cases is to help make the waist proportionate to the abdomen and to the rest of the body. And given how different important the relationship is of the abdomen to the waist, they are often treated together. So we're almost always doing a combination of liposuction to the abdomen and liposuction to the waist. We can certainly treat these areas individually for people that just have a little extra fat the size of what people affectionately call love handles, or if somebody just has a bit of an abdominal bulge. This can be treated with liposuction in isolation as well. But generally speaking, it's often smart to approach the abdomen and the waist as a unit and to treat them with liposuction together.
Can I liposuction my back?
So let's continue moving around the body to the back. And the back is also a pretty popular place to treat with liposuction. The back as a whole can be divided essentially into the upper back and the lower back or in the case of women, we are often talking about upper bra fat and lower bra fat. And this is divided by the bra strap line. And by treating either the upper bra fat area or lower bra fat area, or both with liposuction, we can often decrease the prominence of the bulges of fat or soft tissue that roll up around the bra strap and continue to those lumps and bumps under clothing that nobody really likes. So if back roles or roles of fat on your back are an issue for you, this may be a very good option.
What is lipo360?
So now we've discussed liposuction of the abdomen, the waist, and the back, and gone all the way around the core. And this introduces a term that's becoming increasingly popular especially in social media about a specific liposuction called lipo 360 or 360 degree liposuction. And this term is a little bit dangerous because it frankly is just too vague. When someone comes in and they're offered a lipo 360, it doesn't directly speak to the specific areas that are going to be treated with liposuction.
So I always advise people to avoid this term on the whole and instead focus on and the specific areas that are going to be treated with liposuction, namely the chest, the waist, the back, and are talking about the armpits? Are we talking about the upper back, the lower back? Using the term, lipo 360, just doesn't lead to clear conversation. And I think that direct clear conversation between the surgeon and the patient is really critical in forming that partnership that will lead to the best results.
How can I make my thighs thinner?
So having given you my little lipo 360 disclaimer, let's continue to move a little bit further down and we will now discuss the banana rolls. Those are the little areas of fullness beneath each buttock. So you've got your buttock, then you have your crease below your buttock, and then there's often some fatty accumulation at the top of the back of the thigh. And we affectionately call this the banana roll because when you're looking at it from behind, it often does take on the shape of a banana. And this is something that can also be very nicely treated with liposuction. And liposuction of the banana rolls really can make the buttocks pop. It can really accentuate their form. It can also contribute to efforts to decrease the bulk of the upper leg as a whole.
This is an area that requires very special technical skill, because while you do want to aggressively reduce the fatty bulk here, what you want to avoid doing is damaging the connective tissue attachments between the buttock and the banana roll. And those are the attachments that go from the skin to the deeper tissue and essentially form that crease under the buttocks. And if this connective tissue is damaged, you can actually lose the definition of that crease under your buttocks and that can look very unnatural.
So having covered the banana rolls, we can now move around and talk about the rest of the thighs. And the thighs can essentially be thought of as having four walls. We can talk about the posterior thigh, which we've just addressed by talking about the banana roll, then there's the inner thigh, the outer thigh, and the anterior or front of the thigh. And each of these areas can be treated with liposuction when appropriate.
The front of the thigh, the anterior thigh is probably the least commonly treated of all of these. But there are some that when you look at it from the side, they do have a bulge of fat that gives the front of their thigh a more convex contour. It looks like it comes out from the rest of the leg more than we'd like it to. And these are folks that are very good candidates for anterior thigh liposuction.
In terms of the remaining two walls of the thigh, the inner thigh and the outer thigh, the inner thigh is an extremely popular area to treat with liposuction. And the specific goal here in addition to looking to decrease the overall bulk of the thigh is to help get that thigh gap. So by eliminating the fat in the medial thigh or the inner thigh, we can decrease the volume and reduce the chances that the two inner thighs are going to touch each other when you're walking, which in addition to being aesthetically pleasing can eliminate chub rub or that uncomfortable heat wraps that you can get from chafing when your thighs are brushing together when you're walking or running.
And the last side of the thighs that we haven't talked about yet are the upper thighs. And the goal here is again, to contribute to debulking the leg as a whole. And specifically people sometimes will they get fatty deposits on their outer thighs that we sometimes refer to as saddlebags because the shape they give that outward bulge from the side can resemble the bags that people attach to saddles to carry gear on their travels. And this outer thigh area is extremely amenable to treatment with liposuction.
So when we look at the thigh, we really have to take it in as a 360 degree structure and consider all four of its walls and design an appropriate plan to achieve the overall shape that we're looking for. We can move down the leg and talk about liposuction of the calves, which in the right candidate can be a very good operation to uncover the underlying muscle, improve that definition and just give an overall more athletic appearance.
What can we add to liposuction to get especially good outcomes?
So that's a summary of the major areas that we're treating with liposuction most commonly. And at the beginning, I promised that we would also cover some tricks for achieving truly super outcomes. And these tricks are really more techniques based on looking at what the anatomical issues are and properly addressing them. The two things that are going to anatomically contribute most to the success of a liposuction procedure are looking at the amount of skin laxity or tightness that is present in the skin overlying the planned treatment area for liposuction, and also the muscle tone in the area underneath the area that we're treating with liposuction.
So if there is loose skin over the area that we're treating of liposuction, if it's mild to moderate skin laxity, we can tighten it very effectively with radiofrequency energies specifically with the BodyTite device. And this will really almost shrink wrap your skin to the new contour and highlight your results. For people that have severe skin laxity, this isn't really a great approach.
And then we're talking about more invasive operations that will actually remove skin. For example, would be tummy if you're looking at a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty from the arms, it would be something like an arm lift or brachioplasty. But for people that are coming in for liposuction and have just a little bit of skin laxity, the radiofrequency energy with BodyTite is a fantastic adjunct to really highlight the results that we're achieving.
And another way to make these results look truly outstanding is to make sure that the muscle that we're uncovering is developed as much as possible, so that you really have a nice foundation and underlying architecture to show off your liposuction results. And the best tool for this that we've seen is EMSculpt. And EMSculpt uses highly focused electromagnetic energy to build muscle mass by stimulating your muscles to do the equivalent of 20,000 contractions in about 30 minutes, totally noninvasively. So this is often something that will initiate about two weeks after liposuction. And in addition to starting to build muscle, it'll also help work the swelling out from the liposuction and speed up your recovery as well.
So I hope this overview of liposuction and some tips and tricks for achieving truly excellent body contouring results was helpful and can offer some guidance as you're looking to achieve your own aesthetic goals.