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Liposculpture: What Is It?

October 23, 2012

You may have heard the term liposculpture but weren’t sure if it was just a fancy term for liposuction or if it involved something more than just removal of excess subcutaneous fat. Here’s the skinny on what liposculpture is and what it does.

Think of liposculpture (also called lipostructure) as three-dimensional body contouring, says plastic surgery expert Rod J. Rohrich, M.D. It’s a way to reshape the body to achieve body contours that are more proportional and aesthetically pleasing. Liposculpture is often performed on areas that were previously considered off-limits, such as the neck, face, spine or upper back, ankles, upper arms, calves, and knees as well as breasts, abdomen, hips, buttocks and thighs.

Although it usually involves slimming down the overly plump areas, liposculpture may also include adding some fat in places where nature may have shortchanged the patient. For example, derriere enhancement, also known as booty boosting, is a procedure that is increasing in popularity. This procedure transplants fat from other parts of the body to increase the size and shape of the buttock, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).

While liposuction in general is a popular cosmetic surgical procedure in the United States according to the ASAPS, liposculpture is a growing trend, especially for fit or normal weight patients who want just small amounts of fat - often 1-3 ounces - removed.

As part of an overall body contouring procedure, liposculpture is also effective for patients who have experienced major weight loss. While a substantial amount of weight may be gone, what’s left is excess skin and fat, with sags and bags showing up in areas such as the face, neck, upper arms, breast, abdomen, buttocks, and thighs, according to ASAPS. Body contouring including both liposculpture and body lifts gives the patient a firmer, trimmer shape, turning an irregular or misshapen body into one that reflects the patient’s hard work.

But while liposculpture may seem like the answer to your desire to look like Michelangelo’s David or Venus de Milo, you need to have realistic expectations, notes the Mayo Clinic. While it will boost your self esteem, it won’t solve psychological issues or fix your life. And, like after all surgeries, you have to anticipate a certain amount of downtime as you recover from the procedure.

It’s also important to make exercise a regular part of your life post-procedure. While you may have less subcutaneous fat now, thanks to your body contouring procedure, you could end up with an increase in visceral fat (fat that surrounds your inner organs), according to an article on Medscape. One study showed that after abdominal liposuction, all study participants had decreases in abdominal subcutaneous fat but the sedentary control group had increases in compensatory visceral fat.

In the end, while liposculpture is a medical procedure, it also requires a high level of artistry on the part of the plastic surgeon. Dr. Rohrich says the surgeon needs, “great surgical technique to obtain consistent great results in body contouring for both female and male patients.” Because the areas targeted (neck, face, spine or upper back, ankles, upper arms, calves, and knees) are less fatty and may also be located near major nerves and important blood vessels, the level of the plastic surgeon’s skill and technique are critical. Be sure to choose a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in liposculpture to ensure that your newly sculpted body matches your expectations. 

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