4 Reasons You May Not Be a Good Candidate for Liposuction

So you have some pockets of fat resistant to diet and exercise. You’ve been researching your options and settled on the age-old solution of liposuction to remove it. You’ve got financing in place and simply need to schedule the procedure. But wait – are you actually a good candidate for liposuction?

As with any cosmetic surgery, there are several factors a plastic surgeon needs to take into account before taking you on as a patient. Below are the reasons why you might not qualify for liposuction for your fat removal.

Your BMI is Too High

Even though it’s not a perfect measurement, your Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the factors taken into consideration. It is a simple calculation using your weight and height to determine the decision to operate.

The higher the BMI, the higher the risk of complications from surgery. For instance, studies have found that patients with a BMI greater than 40 are over 3 times more susceptible for complications than patients with normal weight. Interestingly, you are not home free on the other end of the spectrum either. Patients who are too thin with not enough “give” in their skin are at higher risk of having irregularities and indentations after liposuction.

To make it easier for you to get a good idea if liposuction is for you, we have made a BMI calculator for you. Go ahead and calculate your BMI, then use the following guidelines:

BMI < 30BMI 30-40BMI > 40
Ideal candidate for liposuction; add on skin tightening for improved results.May qualify, but may see better results with a tummy tuck, or by first achieving target weight with the Orbera gastric balloon.Not an ideal candidate; advised to reduce BMI by enrolling in a weight loss program. Call us for a pre-screening if you are borderline.

Having said all this, please know that for a plastic surgeon to really determine your fitness for surgery, he or she needs to see you in a personal consultation.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons recommends that no more than 5,000 cc (5 liters) of fat and fluid are removed in a liposuction procedure. Similarly to procedures for high-BMI patients, the complication rates for so-called high volume liposuctions are too high. Even though this is not written into law, most plastic surgeons will adhere to the guidelines set by the ASPS. 

Such recommendations are based on in-depth studies of post-operative liposuction patients and should be taken seriously, even if your particular state or plastic surgeon allows for a higher limit. 

If you have a lot of excess fat, your plastic surgeon may ask you to get closer to your target weight before having liposuction. Programs like the Orbera Weight-Loss Balloon may help you achieve this faster and with more success than diet and exercise.  

You Are Not Medically Cleared for Surgery 

Most surgeons will classify you by your general health to determine the risk posed by surgery. Even if you consider yourself healthy, some underlying conditions may disqualify you. Your doctor will go over these in your consultation. Conditions like asthma, diabetes, and high blood pressure are typical warning flags for plastic surgeons. 

Expect to be asked to disclose whether you’re a smoker, or whether you’ve stopped smoking less than 6 weeks before your procedure. Smokers (or users of tobacco or nicotine products) have a greater risk of infection, significant surgical complications like delayed healing, additional scarring, or skin death, and potential issues with recovery from anesthesia such as coughing or increased bleeding.

You will also have to disclose if you take any kind of heart medication, especially blood thinners, as these can have serious effects on your ability to heal after surgery. You’ll typically need to supply a letter from your cardiologist clearing you for elective surgery and stating that it’s safe for you to stop your blood thinners a certain number of days pre-op.

You Have Skin Elasticity Problems  

Removing excess fat is only one part of making your abdomen (or thighs, or arms) look tight and smooth again. The other part is making sure that your skin shrinks back to the newly reduced surface area. 

If your skin doesn’t shrink back, the results will not be great. It will look akin to a deflated balloon. If your goal is to show some skin after your procedure, you will want to ensure smooth and even skin. 

If you are young and have not undergone any pregnancies, your chances of elastic skin that springs right back to its shape are much higher. Conversely, giving birth and/or aging take a toll on skin elasticity. If you have cellulite, liposuction alone will also leave you with unsatisfactory results. And lastly, if you have a history of keloid scarring, your are at higher than average risk of developing them after liposuction. It’s definitely something you should discuss with your surgeon prior to the procedure.

The good news is that sagging and cellulite-like skin can be improved with non-surgical skin tightening added on. It is a minimally-invasive procedure that when combined with liposuction achieves results previously only seen with surgical procedures like tummy tucks, thigh lifts, and arm lifts. It uses radio frequency assisted lipolysis (RFAL) to apply controlled heat to underlying tissue and tighten the skin. 

We hope that we’ve given you a better understanding whether liposuction is for you. When in doubt, please contact us to ask questions or to set up a personal consultation with one of our plastic surgeons in Nashville or Memphis.

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