Is Scarring Common After Liposuction?

Achieving the body type you’ve always wanted can be challenging, especially when your body fat isn’t proportioned the way you want it to be. If you imagine yourself with sleek arms and washboard abs but instead are stuck with bingo wings and love handles, exercise and dieting on their own will likely not be enough to get the sculpted results of your dreams. Liposuction is what Chicago-area patients often use to slim down specific areas of the body, enjoying the results of a reduction in below-the-skin fat removal from specific areas.

Though patients typically like their results, many are initially concerned about whether various forms of plastic surgery will leave them with scars. This is indeed one of the disadvantages of any type of surgical procedure, but scarring from liposuction isn’t generally as dramatic as it can be with other procedures. It’s helpful to know more about how liposuction works to understand why.

Once you’ve become an adult, your fat is generally “set.” That means the number and distribution of fat cells in your body is essentially stable. When you lose weight by creating a calorie deficit, your fat cells become smaller, but still remain in place. For this reason, liposuction is a preferred fat-reduction method for many because the fat cells themselves are taken out and can’t regrow.

Once the fat has been suctioned away, healthy and youthful skin can eventually tighten up around the leaner contours, so plastic surgeons tend to prefer to perform this surgery on patients who have good skin elasticity. In cases where skin is left loose and sagging due to the loss of volume beneath it, a lifting procedure may be called for.

Scars are marks that occur as a natural part of the skin’s healing process after trauma, inflammation, infections, or surgery. Many marks fade away in time, but some may never completely disappear. Even when attended to by the most skilled surgeon, once the skin layers are damaged and cut into, it’s possible that a scar may form.

There are certain risk factors that make some patients more likely to develop scars than others and affect their ability to heal after liposuction. Skin condition plays a major role. Older skin is generally weaker, less elastic, and thinner than younger skin, and does not heal as quickly. If your skin has been subjected to damage from excessive sun exposure, smoking, or other pollutants, it may also not look as good after surgery. Genetic factors, ethnicity, skin color, and the size and depth of the incisions being made can also impact the way your incision sites heal.

Liposuction, specifically, involves only a few very small incisions placed in easily concealed areas. In some cases, you may develop light marks, caused by a loss of pigmentation where the skin is injured. In other cases, post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark areas) may develop on the incision sites. Sunlight can also cause hyperpigmentation on incisions, so for the first year after surgery, it’s especially important to avoid sun exposure on these areas and to use sunscreen regularly. If you are genetically prone to developing keloid scars—enlarged, raised scars that are darker than your natural skin tone —or you have had these types of scars in the past, it’s best to talk about the issue with your surgeon prior to your procedure.

Following your surgeon’s instructions on caring for incisions will help to minimize your scars as you recover. If you do notice visible scarring in the months that follow, you can always talk to your provider, who may suggest other cosmetic treatments to improve their appearance.

Here are general some tips for minimizing noticeable scars after liposuction.

  • Keep incisions clean by performing proper wound care.
  • Quit smoking for at least two weeks before liposuction and while you’re in recovery.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Ensure that your diet is healthy and balanced with lots of nutrients. Increase your protein intake.
  • Use of sunscreen-containing scar creams can help minimize scarring

Get more details on liposuction in Chicago from Dr. Lawrence Iteld and the staff at Iteld Plastic Surgery. If you have questions or want to request a consultation, call directly at 312.757.4505 or fill out a contact form to get started.

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