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Alan Matarasso, M.D. is an Associate Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He has written over 100 peer-reviewed articles and 15 textbook chapters. Dr. Matarasso has also served as editor for three volumes of Clinics in Plastic Surgery and currently serves as the Senior Scientific Editor for Aesthetic Surgery Journal. His honors include recognition in American Health Magazine's "The Best Doctors in America" and New York Magazine's "Best Doctors in New York". Dr. Matarasso is a member and "Traveling Professor" of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.


Liposuction surgery is the removal of excess fat below the skin (subcutaneous fat) by a suction mechanism to create harmony with disproportionate body sites and enhance the overall  body contour. It now represents the most common plastic surgery procedure performed. Ideal candidates are those who are in good health, are less than 30% over ideal body weight, have realistic expectations and good skin tone. One or more areas that would benefit by removal of fat to bring it into proportion with surrounding areas can be treated.

Liposuction can be done in an office operating room or hospital with local anesthesia and intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. It can be performed alone or in conjunction with other surgical procedures such as face-lifting, breast surgery, etc. Tiny incisions, usually less than ½ inch, are placed in strategically hidden sites to allow the surgeon's probe-like instrument (cannula) to mechanically dislodge excess fat cells. These cells are then vacuumed into a collecting canister and discarded.

The primary advantage of liposuction surgery is that it is the only method of permanently removing localized, targeted areas of excess fat.  Once the fat cells are removed, they do not "reappear" or "go someplace else". If weight is gained, the existing number of fat cells distributed all over the body will expand in size in a proportionate manner. Unfortunately, the cottage cheese appearance of skin (cellulite) is not improved with liposuction surgery. Current research is investigating cellulite and developing new techniques for its treatment.

Most patients return home the same day, feeling a bit tired and sore. Sometimes, patients are instructed to wear elastic compression girdles over the treated site to minimize swelling where the fat was removed. They are soon ready to progressively resume normal activities.

There are many important issues that must be discussed with your surgeon. Your individual anatomy, personal motivation, and the surgeon's experience should be taken into consideration when determining if liposuction is appropriate for you.  Selecting a properly trained surgeon with a special interest in aesthetic plastic surgery is a complex -- but critical -- task. Local medical societies or plastic surgery organizations such as the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (212-921-0500) and the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (847-228-9900), friends who have had successful surgery, and physicians are useful means of finding a surgeon.

Like all surgical procedures, liposuction is just that - surgery -- and the decision to undergo any elective surgery is a serious one. As such it carries risks, including bleeding, infection, irregular appearance, and even death. Liposuction is an ideal method of achieving enhanced body proportion but not necessarily a way to lose weight or drop a few clothing sizes! Surgery should not be approached as a replacement for a healthy lifestyle, diet, and regular exercise program -- it should go with them hand-in-hand.

Created: 12/26/2000  -  Alan Matarasso, M.D.

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