Grooves, lines, dimples, “shark bites”, saggy skin… these are all signs of bad liposuction, and are all very difficult to fix.
Who’s the unlucky girl in the photo?
It’s Tara Reid!
“I got lipo because even though I was skinny, I wanted a six-pack. I had body-contouring, but it all went wrong.”
The Most Common Complications of Liposuction
- Skin Dimples & Track Marks: These contour irregularities are most common in areas of the body where the fat is more dense and where there is more connective tissue. Liposuction in the thighs, butt, and arms is particularly problematic in terms of leaving dimples and tracks. Dimples form when too much fat is removed too close to the skin in one particular spot. When too much fat is removed, a little ball of scar tissue forms and tugs on the skin forming a dimple. Track marks are from passing the liposuction cannula back and forth in the same direction. Dimples and tracks are always a possibility regardless of how good your surgeon is, what type of cannulas are used, or what type of liposuction you have. They are more likely to happen on your arms, legs, and butt, but they can show up anywhere you have lipo. In other areas of the body, like the tummy and back, it’s easier for your surgeon to keep the cannula away from the skin surface since the fat layer is naturally thicker. The deeper fat should be sucked out, but the fat closest to the skin’s surface needs to stay put if you want to avoid visible irregularities.
- Saggy Skin: You have to be careful about how aggressively you liposuction certain areas of the body because when the fat is removed, the overlying skin can sag tremendously, and in some cases, can actually look worse than before the liposuction. The inner thighs, arms, and bra roll area (front and back) are notoriously problematic in terms of saggy skin after over-aggressive lipo.
How to Avoid These Complications
- Be realistic: Don’t walk into your surgeon’s office saying “I want you to suck out as much fat as possible”… that’s exactly what leads to skin dimples, track marks, and shark bites. There should always be a thin layer of fat right underneath your skin to make it appear smooth and healthy. The more this layer is interrupted, the higher the chance that scar tissue will form and lead to an irregular contour.
- Do your homework on your surgeon: There are a million types of doctors offering liposuction today, and another million that aren’t doctors at all! It seems like there should be a law against this, but the fact of the matter is that there isn’t. It’s up to you to know your “surgeon’s” qualifications, and to know the difference between a real plastic surgeon and everyone else. Liposuction performed by anyone but a fellowship-trained plastic surgeon is much more likely to give you a result that you’re not happy with, and once the damage is done, it’s very difficult (and sometimes impossible) to fix. Ask Tara Reid how many surgeries she’s had!
- Lose weight before your procedure: The more weight you lose before your procedure, the better your results will be. You’ll recover quicker, you’ll have less chance of an anesthesia-related problem, and your skin will retract better as the swelling goes down. If you need some fitness tips, check out FITFineLines.com!
- Wear a compression garment: There’s a lot of confusing information about compression garments on the web, but one thing that you need to know is that most of the people who say that you don’t need to wear one have never had liposuction. The reality is that if you don’t wear a compression garment, your chances of having skin irregularities are nearly 100%. A quality compression garment is absolutely essential if you want your skin to heal smooth. Plus, it also helps control some of the pain after surgery by offering support to the healing tissue and controlling swelling. You need to wear your garment for about 6 weeks after surgery to get the maximal benefit, and although that sounds like an eternity, most patients actually end up wearing their garments for 3-4 months because they feel more comfortable with them on. Another great garment tip… Don’t buy white garments! Black garments don’t show stains, which are inevitable in the first 48-72 hours after surgery… white shows everything!
- Do 5 laps around your living room when you get home: One of the more uncommon, but very serious, complications of liposuction is a blood clot (DVT). The last thing you want to do when you get home is lay around. The less you move your leg muscles, the higher your chances of developing a blood clot. This is not to say that you should be jogging immediately after your procedure… just get up off the couch every few hours and take a few slow laps around your living room. That simple activity will get the blood flowing and keep the clots away.
Since all we’ve done is talk about the bad things that can happen with liposuction, it’s time to remind you that nearly everyone who has the procedure is happy that they did! Liposuction is the second most popular cosmetic procedure (behind breast augmentation), so if you want it, go for it! Just make sure you know your stuff before you commit to anything. Being educated is the BEST way to ensure that you get what you’re looking for 🙂
Nicholas Vendemia, M.D. Plastic Surgeon, New York City MAS / Manhattan Aesthetic Surgery www.ManhattanAestheticSurgery.com
Photo Credit: UsWeekly, AwfulPlasticSurgery.com
NOTICE: None of the celebrities or individuals discussed here have ever received treatment, surgery, medical advice, or evaluations from any author, physician, surgeon, or representative of this blog. All images and photos in this article represent models only. No actual patients or clients are shown.