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While the terms “LipoSculpture” and "Liposuction" are often used interchangeably, substantial differences exist between the two in cosmetic plastic surgery. Basically, LipoSculpture is a more refined version of Liposuction.

Common to both Liposuction and LipoSculpture is the basic principle that neither is a means of weight control. Instead, both are intended to rid the body of stubborn fat deposits that will not respond to diet and exercise. The most common LipoSculpture for men are the “love handle” bulges, while women frequently opt to have “saddlebags” on the hips removed, along with slimming of the thighs, the undersides of upper arms, and tummies. Both procedures use the tumescent method.

Less bulky LipoSculpture instruments remove small but noticeable pockets of fat on the neck, face, chin, knees and, in a few cases, ankles.

Both Liposuction and LipoSculpture use a cannula -- a long, thin, hollow surgical tube -- inserted through equally small surgical openings in the skin. The cannula is connected to an aspirator, a suction device that removes the fat.

Essentially, the surgeon uses the cannula to create long, narrow tunnels through the fatty areas. After the procedure, the patient wears a compression garment for at least a month to collapse the tunnels, creating an overall slimmer profile.

Any ordinary Liposuction can be said to be LipoSculpture because the process reduces bulging areas to make you look more trim and sleek, especially while you are wearing clothes.

The result may be a little different, however, when you are in beachwear because common side effects of ordinary Liposuction include grooves, lumpiness, and dents in the skin, along with some hanging, loose skin. Those are often caused when the patient is over-liposuctioned.

LipoSculpture patients often notice numbness in the treatment area for several months. That happens because the suction force removes not only fat but minor nerves, blood vessels, connecting tissues and other smaller bodily material. Of course, nerves, blood vessels and other tissues grow back by the time the LipoSculpture is showing its final appearance on the patient.


What are the Types of LipoSculpture?

Some physicians use LipoSculpture to refer to the plastic surgery procedure in which some of the patient’s body fat is transplanted from one spot to another where fat may be lacking. Thus, the procedure allows a surgeon to “sculpt” new body contours. The areas most often subjected to this type of LipoSculpture are the lips and the female derriere in the vast majority of cases. In those instances, the surgeon liposuctions fat from one or several donor areas on the patient, prepares the fat cells and then injections them into the deficient areas to create more pronounced curves. (This type of LipoSculpture is also known as "fat grafting," “fat transfer” and “fat injection.”)

More commonly, however, LipoSculpture refers to the procedures in which surgeons remove fat to provide better definition to certain muscles and a far sleeker appearance for the patient. For instance, a common area that undergoes LipoSculpture is the stomach.

Using standard Liposuction, surgeons remove fat over and around the abdominus rectus, the large parallel stomach muscles running from the sternum at the bottom of the chest to the pubic region. Not only is the abdomen then made flatter, the stomach muscles show more definition and appear larger and more powerful. In some cases, the procedure is known as “abdominal etching.” Some surgeons actually etch or carve fatty areas to look like the highly desired “six pack” stomach. Surgical etching has been extended to a few other areas of the body, like the latissimus dorsi muscles along the sides of the body and male chest muscles. Primary recipients of etching surgery have been males in the modeling, body building, and acting professions.


What are the Newest Types of LipoSculpture?

The newest form of LipoSculpture is a Brazilian import known as VASER High Definition LipoSculpture ™. This method uses an ultrasound-based cannula which breaks up and liquefies fat cells with ultrasonic energy. (The ultrasound burst is small, the same as that used to remove cataracts in the eyes.) The liquefied fat is then easily extracted.

One of the chief benefits is that the instruments used in VASER High Definition LipoSculpture ™ can be set to impact only fat cells, leaving other bodily structures like nerves, blood vessels and connecting tissue intact. That means faster healing and less recovery time for the patient. The few U.S. plastic surgeons who use the method reduce fat over all the muscles of the trunk for both men and women because most patients are body building enthusiasts.

The latest development in LipoSculpture is SmartLipo™ which uses a laser- tipped cannula to melt fat. In this application, the cannula is as small as a thick needle on a syringe and requires such a small entry point through the skin, only band aids are used to close the tiny incisions. SmartLipo™ brings even less trauma to surrounding tissues than the other Liposuction methods.


How is VASER High Definition LipoSculpture ™ Performed?

Before the surgical session begins, the surgeons ask the patient to flex his or her muscles for about twenty minutes and then quickly mark with a surgical pen where fat should be removed so that underlying muscles show better through the skin. The method requires extensive knowledge of art and human anatomy because surgeons who practice VASER High Definition LipoSculpture ™ also work on and in the areas where the main muscles of the body join, like the space on males where chest muscles meet the abdominal muscles. An example on women is the space where back muscles arc into the upward slope of well-defined buttock muscles. Moreover, the procedure removes fat from three different levels over the targeted muscles. The result is a more athletic, muscular appearance, perfect for body builders, models, and others in the public eye.

As with all cosmetic surgery procedures, LipoSculpture requires the patient to actively participate in the process. This level of participation may vary significantly depending on the patient’s goals and expected outcome. If the patient is interested in simply removing fat deposits, liposuction alone will achieve that goal. However, if patients are interested in attaining an athletic, sculpted look, they may need to incorporate extensive, long-term exercise into their daily activities.


Benefits of LipoSculpture:

Aside from the visual effects of removing excess, unwanted fat, most patients find that their clothes tend to fit better. Moreover, a trim, firm abdomen may provide a psychological lift. In fact, some find that shedding extra fat results in making physical exercise more pleasurable, thus providing an incentive to exercise regularly to enhance one's fitness level.


How Much Pain is Associated With LipoSculpture?

While the time required for a procedure varies from surgeon to surgeon, liposuction usually requires about an hour and is virtually painless. The longer the procedure is expected to take, the more likely that general anesthesia will be used. If the amount of fat to be removed is fairly small, it is common for the procedure to be performed with local anesthetic on an outpatient basis, either in the surgeon’s office or in an outpatient surgery clinic. If larger amounts of fat are to be removed, the patient may need to spend the night in the hospital so that trained medical staff may monitor the initial recovery. SmartLipo™ patients are generally under local anesthesia for a procedure that requires 45 minutes to an hour. Most VASER High Definition LipoSculpture ™ patients can expect to be under general anesthesia up to about four hours.


What are the Long-Term Effects of LipoSculpture?

For most LipoSculpture patients, most of the associated bruising and swelling should subside within the first two to three weeks and usually requires a compression device to be worn for 24 hours a day for a month after procedures of the torso. To expedite the healing process, patients may be encouraged to begin light activity as soon as possible. Furthermore, depending on the patient’s job, liposuction patients should be able to return to work within a few days if the work is fairly sedentary in nature. Regardless, liposuction patients should avoid strenuous activities for several weeks while the body naturally heals.

Most LipoSculpture patients may be able to resume most normal activities within four to six weeks. Compression garments are easily concealed under clothing and should be worn until the surgeon indicates that it is no longer necessary.

Results should be visible within two to four months. Full effects may not be evident for six months to a year. The more fat removed, the longer it will take to achieve optimal results because the skin has to adapt to a more radical change in shape.

After LipoSculpture, it is important for patients to maintain their weight and body with exercise and proper diet. Because fat cells are permanently removed, future weight gain will not occur in the treated areas. But the patient may gain weight or fat deposits in other areas of the body. Moreover, since fat cells have been removed from the treatment area, subsequent weight gain may appear uneven. Also, because the aging process directly affects the firmness and elasticity of the skin, older patients may not achieve the same sleek results as younger patients.


What Are the Risks and Limitations of LipoSculpture?

It is important to remember that any form of Liposuction is a surgical procedure and subject to the usual problems and complications that accompany surgery. Following liposuction, some patients may experience dimpling, lumpiness, numbness, scarring, discoloration, or sagging skin in the treated area. Follow-up surgery may be needed to correct these problems. More serious complications associated with Liposuction include blood clots, infection, excessive fluid loss, pulmonary embolism, and drug overdose.

A combination of the following factors is associated with the increased risk of serious complications: 1) removal of large amounts of fatty tissue; 2) multiple procedures being performed simultaneously; and 3) use of general anesthesia. As with any surgical procedure, to minimize the associated risks, it is important to follow all of the surgeon’s instructions before and after the procedure.


What Are The Typical Costs Associated With Liposuction?

LipoSculpture costs vary widely according to the area of the nation in which you live, the type of LipoSculpture you are having, and if you are under general, regional, or local anesthesia.


Ten Questions Every Liposuction Patient Should Ask the Surgeon:

Before any liposuction procedure, a consultation will occur between the prospective patient and the providing surgeon. During this consultation, the surgeon and patient will discuss issues such as the desired outcome, various options that are available to achieve the outcome, the procedure itself as well various risks and limitations. The surgeon will also provide information regarding anesthesia options, the location and description of where the procedure will be performed (that is, a hospital, surgeon’s office or surgical suite) and associated costs. A discussion regarding the patient’s medical history, as well as a physical examination of the area to be treated will also take place during the consultation.

To learn more about LipoSculpture, as well as to assist in formulating realistic expectations, it is recommended that the patient view numerous before and after photographs, speak with previous patients, as well as obtain responses to the following questions:

  1. Are the desired results I described realistic?
  2. Where is the LipoSculpture performed and how long will it take?
  3. In my case, what liposuction technique (i.e., Super-Wet, Ultrasound Assisted, SmartLipo™ or VASER High-Definition LipoSculpture ™) is most appropriate?
  4. What kind of anesthesia will the surgeon use during the surgery?
  5. How much does the procedure cost, and what other elements might factor into that (such as the hospital fee, the anesthesia and the anesthesia provider, if any?)
  6. What is the surgeon’s level of experience in performing LipoSculpture?
  7. What percentage of patients experience complications?
  8. What is the surgeon’s policy regarding correcting or repeating the procedure if the work does not meet agreed upon goals?
  9. What should I expect, post-operatively, in terms of soreness, scarring, activity level, etc?
  10. Have you ever had your malpractice insurance coverage denied, revoked or suspended?

In addition to the previously mentioned questions, it is imperative that patients tell their surgeons information regarding any allergies and serious medical conditions they may have, along with any over-the-counter and prescription medications they are taking.

This site provides information about plastic/cosmetic surgery and is designed to help users make decisions regarding their own treatment options. But medical information is not the same as medical advice -- the application of medical treatment to a person’s specific circumstances. Although we go to great lengths to make sure our information is accurate and useful, we recommend you consult a qualified medical practitioner if you want professional assurance that our information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation.

While the information contained in this website will provide you with a good introduction to LipoSculpture, it is not medical advice. When considering liposuction, LipoSculpture or any cosmetic surgery procedure, we recommend that you consult a qualified provider with considerable experience in the surgery in question.


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