Liposuction: Things have REALLY Changed!

Now that we have done Smartlipo for many years now and have performed over 4,000 procedures, without a complication, we receive questions from around the country about this procedure.

I feel uniquely qualified to answer these and help future patients navigate the “marketing medicine” they are subjected to in the media.

Choosing a physician: There are many types of doctors performing liposuction and Smartlipo. These procedures are performed in hospitals, surgery centers and in doctor’s offices. Once upon a time it was very important to choose a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon for Liposuction but in fact in 2012 more than half of the Smartlipo procedures performed were done by NON PLASTIC SURGEONS!

I have done revisions (a touch up or correction to the area liposuction was previously performed) on patients who have had liposuction done by Plastic Surgeons, Dermatologists, and yes, even my own patients. As a result of our extensive experience I believe the following will help you choose the facility and physician that is right for you. It is exactly how I guide my friends and family who are unable to come to Atlanta.

Physician: Choose a Board Certified doctor who does Smartlipo every day. Remember, Smartlipo is the name of the laser we use and there are many lesser powered look alike lasers being used out there. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security that just because someone is a Plastic Surgeon that your results will be better than having your procedure done by a non-plastics. It is really boils down to surgical experience and the number of liposuction or Smartlipo procedures they have performed. Like the old adage,“practice makes perfect”, in this case the more procedures a surgeon performs the better results patients will see. It is imperative that you select a physician with surgical training.

Some of specialties with surgical training are (these are just some examples): general surgeons, colon & rectal, OB/GYN, neurologic, plastic, orthopaedic, etc.  For a complete list of specialties with surgical training you can visit the American College of Surgeons website. Remember, not every doctor is “Board Certified”. To quote the American Board of Medical Specialties “Board Certification-and the Gold Star- demonstrates a physician’s exceptional expertise in a particular specialty and/or subspecialty of medical practice.

The Gold Star signals a board certified physician’s commitment and expertise in consistently achieving superior clinical outcomes in a responsive, patient-focused setting.” You can see if a physician is Board Certified by visiting the Georgia Medical Board website. To learn more about what it takes to become board certified visit the American Board of Medical Specialties website.

Anesthesia:  We believe it is unnecessary to use general anesthesia to perform Smartlipo. General anesthesia is when a patient is “put to sleep” and it significantly increases the risk of complication. In fact, when you hear the “horror stories” in the media they are typically due to anesthesia related complications. Of course, most people are scared that doing this awake will hurt. In cases where general anesthesia is not being used, that does not mean patients are not provided with some type of anesthetic. The alternative to general anesthesia is local anesthesia and there are many options available. In our operating room we use lidocaine as the local anesthetic and this technique is referred to as tumescent anesthesia.

Most people are familiar with lidocaine, it is what is typically used in dental office to numb the nerves in the gum line. It blocks the nerve from firing a pain response. So while you are awake during the procedure you aren’t in any pain. The reality is that when a procedure is being performed under local anesthesia by an experienced doctor, the patient’s experience is very positive and allows them a faster and easier recovery.

You are within your right to ask to speak to other patients of any physician to inquire about their experience. If you choose to be put to sleep under general anesthesia, be certain you are in a Certified Facility and that a Board Certified Anesthesiologist is present in the operating room during your procedure. General anesthesia should not be administered by anyone other than an Anesthesiologist. We believe it is prudent to do some cursory lab work on most patients having Smartlipo to be certain the dosing of anesthesia is appropriate for them. Some offices don’t do any lab work and we believe this simply increases the risks.

Complications: Be smart and DO YOUR HOMEWORK. We are aware of serious infections in a lipo facility as well as patient deaths in another right here in Atlanta. As I said earlier, we have done over 4000 procedures without a complication which I attribute to our meticulous approach to the procedure. I define a complication as an infection, and emergency room visit, burn, hospitalization, hemorrhage, or blood clots.

At your consultation you should meet the surgeon who will be performing your procedure, ask them about what kinds of complications they have experienced and what their experience is with your type of situation. It is important that the surgeon takes a thorough medical history to see if any risk factors are present that need to be considered. Sorry, but this simply cannot be done by “sales consultants” who do medical consults! In addition, find out how you will be able to contact your surgeon after the procedure should you have problems or questions. Will you have their cell phone number? You can also glean a lot of information on your own by doing a simple search online.


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