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Liposuction Alone Works for Patients Over 40

Belief that skin is not capable of redraping, retracting after liposuction considered a 'common misconception'

by Wayne Kuznar

With thorough fat removal, tumescent liposuction produces good cosmetic results as a sole procedure for those patients beyond 40 years old, David Bank, M.D., said at Academy '99.

Many plastic surgeons, fearing a lack of tissue retraction, discount liposuction as a sole procedure for body sculpting after age 40.

"It's a common misconception that the skin is not capable of redraping or retracting following liposuction alone in patients older than 40 years," said Dr. Bank, director, The Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic and Laser Surgery, Mt. Kisco, N.Y., and an instructor in clinical dermatology, Columbia University, New York.

"Many plastic surgeons perpetuate the myth that patients older than 40 need to have a tummy tuck or face lift instead of just having the fat suctioned out of the neck or abdomen," he added.

Three Primary Areas

Fifty-eight patients - from ages 40 to 75 years - had outpatient tumescent liposuction under local anesthesia. Thirty of the patients underwent liposuction of the abdomen, 20 of the neck, and eight of the arms. Measurements in inches and weight in pounds were recorded at one, three, and six months after the procedure.

Ninety percent of the participants were women. The average age of patients undergoing liposuction of the abdomen was 55 years; the neck, 57 years; and the arms, 44 years.

Patients undergoing liposuction of the abdomen lost an average of five pounds and 2.8 inches in the waistline. The average reduction in circumference of the neck was 1.3 inches without weight change in patients having liposuction of the neck. Those who had the procedure performed on their arms lost 0.5 inches in circumference without weight change.