While bariatric surgery is gaining acceptance as a method of weight loss for those who are obese, liposuction is another surgical procedure that removes fat, and has been around for years. Many people aren’t sure of the difference between these two types of surgery. Is liposuction an alternative to bariatric surgery?
The truth is that bariatric surgery and liposuction are very different, and intended for different types of patients.
Bariatric surgery is intended for those who are extremely overweight, and whose health is at risk because of their excess body weight. This type of surgery alters the digestive tract to cause patients to eat less and/or to absorb fewer calories from their food, so that they lose weight. Many people who have bariatric surgery lose 100 pounds or more over the months following the procedure.
Liposuction, by contrast, is not intended as a method of overall weight loss, or for the removal of large volumes of fat from the body. Instead, liposuction is intended to remove the stubborn pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. Only a few pounds of fat are removed during a liposuction procedure. The particular spots treated may be the waist (especially the “love handles”), the buttocks or upper thighs, the upper arms, the neck and under the chin, or any other challenging spot.
According to Dr. A.M. Yenikomshian, a plastic surgeon with over thirty years of experience who practices at The Center for Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery in San Jose, liposuction “is ideal for sculpting and toning the body through the removal of small, concentrated amounts of fat.”
In other words, liposuction is for body contouring, while bariatric surgery is for weight loss. Those who need to lose a significant amount of weight aren’t ready for liposuction, at least not until after they’ve lost most of the excess weight.
You don’t have to be at your perfect weight to have liposuction, but you should be relatively close. People who are within 25 pounds of their ideal body weight may choose liposuction as a method of contouring the body. Those who have bariatric surgery to lose a lot of weight, but then find that they’re unhappy with the pattern of where the weight loss occurs in the body, may also choose liposuction once their weight has stabilized.