Liposuction remains the most common cosmetic surgical procedure worldwide, surpassing other very common procedures such as breast augmentation and rhinoplasty. By reducing fat from the neck and body, liposuction can improve shape and contour, especially in trouble areas that are resistant to diet and exercise.
Liposuction removes fat, not skin. As a result, liposuction may not adequately achieve desired results on its own on some cases. Depending on multiple factors, the skin that once housed that extra fat doesn’t disappear and may not shrink adequately on its own. The extra skin can linger and hang off your face, neck, arms, thighs, or abdomen. Specific procedures to tighten and remove excess skin then comes into the picture, ex. facelift or abdominoplasty. Read more about skin laxity in previous a blog post.
Loose skin after Liposuction
Loose skin may occur after liposuction for various reasons. The primary reason is that there is just too much skin. Some factors that may predispose one to consider additional procedures to liposuction may include:
- Large volume liposuction – the more fat removed, the more leftover skin remains
- Post-bariatric surgery or massive weight loss – excess skin has grown over time
- Older patients – less skin elasticity
- Stretched skin after pregnancy – excess skin has grown over time
- Excess skin laxity – genetically loose skin
- Weak chin from childhood or overbite – weak bone structure
Before and after liposuction by Dr. Chaboki. This patient was not able to get facelift or neck lift surgery. She is an older patient with significant skin laxity of the neck, which tightened partially after liposuction alone. She was thrilled with her natural liposuction results with minimal downtime. When she’s ready, she can move forward with plastic surgery to address remaining loose skin as desired.
That being said, in many patients certain liposuction maneuvers can help encourage skin to tighten to a certain degree. In addition, some patients tend to have more skin tightening effect than others. For example, young patients with a double chin may only need chin liposuction, as their skin shrinks more than older patients with loose skin who more likely need a facelift procedure.
Why Doesn’t Skin Bounce Back after Liposuction?
Skin elasticity and the ability of skin to tighten after liposuction is affected by many factors:
- Time spent at a heavier weight or with double chin. The longer skin spends stretched out, the less likely it will bounce back.
- Speed of weight loss. Rapid weight loss doesn’t give your skin sufficient time to accommodate to a new and smaller frame.
- Age. Older patients have less elastic skin
- General health. Healthy skin is more elastic.
- Genetics. Some patients simply don’t tighten as much as others
If your skin isn’t firming up after liposuction, ask your plastic surgeon about appropriate treatment options.
Before and after liposuction by Dr. Chaboki. This patient wanted to improve a “buffalo hump”. She is young with good skin elasticity, which tightened after liposuction alone. She was thrilled with her natural liposuction results with minimal downtime.
Non-Surgical treatments for Loose Skin
As we discussed, plastic surgery is generally required to adequately address significant or loose skin. After liposuction, some patients may not be ready to return for another procedure. Fortunately, there are some things that might help encourage your skin to tighten up and make the loose skin not appear so obvious.
- Time. The skin might gradually accommodate a smaller frame after sufficient time.
- Compression garment. Gentle compression not only can help reduce bruising and swelling, it may also assist with some skin tightening.
- Intense pulsed light (IPL). IPL may encourage some skin contracture by gentle heating up of the skin collagen.
- Radiofrequency (RF). RF uses energy, similar to as IPL, to induce the skin’s collagen growth.
- Strength training. Exercise will not directly tighten your skin. However, it may help give you a more enhanced appearance by filling some of that empty space with strong muscle.
- Water. Drinking water will not directly tighten loose skin. However, it will keep your skin healthy and healthier skin is stronger and more likely to bounce back.
Liposuction may be first step in Enhanced Appearance
No cosmetic procedure can promise a perfect face or body. Liposuction is a relatively simple procedure that can help improve the treated area, but has its limitations. Be prepared for possible additional procedures as necessary to reach your goal.
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