What Size Should You Be to Get Liposuction?
Busting Some Liposuction Myths
As one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the country, there are definitely some common conceptions about what liposuction is, what it can do, and who should use it. Not all of those conceptions are accurate. In fact, as with any popular plastic surgery procedure, it’s not uncommon to see myths and misunderstandings about liposuction repeated as truth. While we don’t have time to correct all of those misunderstandings (you can see much more accurate information on our liposuction page, however), we are here to set the record straight on one particular aspect of liposuction: who it’s for.
When most people not familiar with plastic surgery or with liposuction envision the ideal patient for the procedure, that image is usually one of significant weight loss. This may have been true at one point—and that’s not to say that liposuction cannot be a part of a significant weight loss plan. However, modern bariatric surgeries such as gastric bypass generally provide a more efficient means for losing a significant amount of weight or combating obesity. Liposuction’s role is one of body contouring; this means that a wide variety of patients can benefit from liposuction procedures.
Can You be Too Small for Liposuction?
In 2017, beauty expert Megan O’Brien published an essay in the magazine Harper’s Bazaar titled, “I’m a Size Zero and I Got Liposuction.” This was an interesting piece because it bucked against the notion that people of a certain size don’t need or shouldn’t get liposuction procedures. O’Brien details how she got liposuction in order to address an area of her stomach that wasn’t going away even with diet and exercise.
The short answer to this question, then, is that your size doesn’t really matter when it comes to liposuction. You could be a size 0 or a size 16. What’s more important is the amount of fat in certain areas of your body and how that fat collects. Liposuction is designed to remove specific—and problematic—areas of fat. These areas of fat are usually resistant to diet and exercise, meaning the only way to remove them is with a procedure such as liposuction.
What’s more important than your overall size is whether or not those localized pockets of fat exist and whether or not they make you uncomfortable. If that’s the case, then liposuction is a great solution.
Can You be Too Large for Liposuction?
As mentioned above, there is not a “set size” at which liposuction becomes viable or unviable. What’s more important is the overall composition of your body, the ratio of fat to muscle and skin. While liposuction is not a “cure” for obesity, it is not only for those of ideal body weight; contour improvements can be made even in patients whose weight is above “ideal” but stable, and if general health is compatible with a surgical procedure. That said, ideal candidates for liposuction will have isolated pockets of fat they wish removed. For that reason, patients who are looking for a more generalized weight loss solution usually look at bariatric surgery. However, once that surgery is complete, liposuction can be used to target any areas that are persistent or resistant to weight loss. Intrabdominal fat that gives patients a round or protruding abdomen is not able to be treated with liposuction, only subcutaneous fat (between abdominal wall and skin).
It’s important to note that with patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, surgeons will often also recommend a procedure to remove loose skin such as a tummy tuck or lower body lift. Liposuction may be used in conjunction with those procedures in order to help you get the final look you desire.
The short answer to this question is that, when you consider liposuction, most surgeons will ask that you be somewhat close to your ideal weight. However, that “ideal” weight will likely be different for everyone, so it’s important to consult with your plastic surgeon before discounting yourself.
The Importance of a Stable Weight
Perhaps more important than either being too small or too large for liposuction is the consideration of stable weight. We all go through phases in life, and a little bit of weight oscillation is normal. And that is normal for patients of liposuction as well. However, gaining or losing a significant amount of weight can stretch the skin and alter the end results of any type of liposuction procedure. And since not ALL of the fat in any operated area is removed, the fat that remains can still be fed enough to gain weight!
We hope that most patients who have a serious interest in liposuction have reached that stable weight threshold. Indeed, for many patients, it is only when they reach this stable weight that they realize which fatty areas of their bodies are frustratingly immune to diet and exercise.
“Stable weight” is a relatively common state of being—but if there’s any question in your mind whether that’s where you are, your best course of action is to consult with an experienced plastic surgeon. Together, you will determine the best treatment path.
Sculpt Your Body With Liposuction
So, what size should you be to get liposuction? Well, any liposuction procedure is really geared towards one goal: helping you get the body you want. As such, liposuction has a lot of flexibility; it can be used to generate results both subtle and amazing (or both at the same time!). The total volume of fat to be removed will, of course, be up to you and your surgeon, but you should remember that liposuction is capable of serving a wide variety of patients achieve a myriad of different outcomes. And of course, while many media writers and patients focus solely on the amount or location of fat that is removed, the real skill (as with other types of sculpture) is not that an artist can remove marble from a block of stone, but the sculpture that remains.
We haven’t even touched on the way that liposuction can be used to selectively address certain areas of your body—be it your arms, legs, back, or (as is commonly portrayed) the abdomen. It all starts with a conversation with one of the American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeons at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery. If you are interested in liposuction—in slimming your body in a way that looks both natural and wonderful—contact Minneapolis Plastic Surgery to schedule a confidential consultation.
© Dr. Richard H. Tholen, MD