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What is the Difference Between Liposuction and Liposculpture?

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  • Written By: Marjorie McAtee
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Many cosmetic surgeons believe that liposuction and liposculpture are basically two names for the same type of procedure. Others point out that liposuction generally seeks to remove rather large fat deposits. Liposculpture, however, may involve not just removing fatty tissue, but re-shaping it and even re-inserting it under the skin of other areas in order to achieve body contouring. Most cosmetics surgeons agree that both procedures should typically involve some amount of contouring of the fatty tissue, because a poorly performed liposuction can leave the surface of the patient's skin uneven and lumpy. If liposuction usually involves removing very large fat deposits, then liposculpture can be said to involve removing small fat deposits, such as those often found under the chin, or reshaping small fatty deposits, such as those that can form around the lower calves and ankles.

Liposuction and liposculpture are generally performed in the same way, using the same kinds of equipment. Most surgeons consider tumescent liposuction to be the safest, most effective technique for liposuction and liposculpture. Tumescent liposuction generally involves injecting a chemical substance under the skin, which can help break down the fatty tissue. A cannula, or small surgical tube, is generally inserted beneath the skin through a small incision, and a vacuum device is generally employed to suction fatty tissue out.

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The main difference between liposuction and liposculpture may be the volume of fatty tissue removed in each procedure. Although many cosmetic surgeons agree that liposuction and liposculpture are basically the same thing, the term liposuction may be more readily used to refer to the removal of large fatty deposits from the abdomen, thighs, and hips. Liposculpture, which may use smaller microcannulas, generally focuses more on removing smaller fatty deposits, such as those often found under the chin, under the arms, or around the lower legs.

Both procedures typically remove fat cells from the treatment area permanently. Experts believe that fatty deposits cannot reappear following either liposuction or liposculpture. These procedures can be important body contouring tools, but they are not generally used to produce major weight loss. The best candidates for these procedures are generally younger than 40, maintain a healthy weight, and don't smoke. Liposuction and liposculpture are most often used to remove and re-shape fatty deposits that have proved resistant to diet and exercise regimens.

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