It's Up to YouIt's been successful. Liposuction has removed ounces of fat from your body. The bulges that have plagued you for so long have disappeared. You've made your last post-operative visit to your surgeon.
If you are like most of the patients I see and treat at The Liposuction Institute, or if you have faithfully been reading all the chapters of this book, you probably already know the answer.
What's next is-literally-up to you.
Body contouring ... body sculpturing ... however you want to think of liposuction, the surgery has done all it can do for you. The skill of your surgeon has given you the best possible figure he or she can. By now you should be happy with your appearance. The swelling has gone down, the bruises have faded, the size of your body parts that gave you so much unhappiness has been reduced.
If you feel a little scared and shaky, not quite sure how you will manage in the months ahead, you are not alone. An informal survey I took among my patients recently showed that more than two-thirds of them had similar feelings. They worried whether or not the bulges would come back. They were afraid of getting fat. They were not quite sure how to live with the new image that liposuction had made possible for them.
Let's deal with these questions and fears, one at a time.
MANY PEOPLE FEEL THE SAME WAY
It may take you several months, or even longer, to get used to the new, trim, streamlined "you." That's not so surprising. You lived with your old image for a number of years before deciding to have liposuction. If your trouble was fat deposits in your upper arms, you were ashamed to be seen in a bathing suit or a sleeveless dress. Some time may elapse before you feel comfortable wearing such clothes, even though liposuction and your post-operative exercises have given you a firm, trim look. Your mind still remembers your embarrassment when your arms were heavy. It will take time to change your thoughts, your image, your behavior ... time until you have learned new patterns of action that go with your "recontoured" self-image.
I have used the arms as an example, but the same psychology holds true for other body parts. The man who always was embarrassed about large, female-type breasts before liposuction -sculptured' his body will need a number of reassuring episodes before he routinely undresses in a health club locker room. The woman who formerly suffered from "thunder thighs," "riding breeches," or sagging buttocks will automatically reach for a large-size, dark color A-line skirt in a dress shop before she remembers she no longer has to camouflage those figure flaws.
WILL YOUR BULGES COME BACK?
Liposuction has made it possible to give an "almost certainly not" answer to that question. Current medical thinking is that fat cells do not increase in number after puberty. In short, once the body changes that are caused by puberty are completed, and your process of growth has stabilized, you have as many fat cells as you will ever have. As you gain weight, each fat cell grows larger ... somewhat like blowing up a balloon bigger and bigger. When you are overweight, the fat cells are grossly enlarged.
The genetically-influenced bulges which have caused you so much distress come about because your fat cells tend to cluster in certain body areas. They are extremely resistant to all attempts through diet and exercise. No matter how much you have tried to change your body shape, until the "miracle" of liposuction, there was no real way you could accomplish your desires.
Liposuction of a particular body part has taken most fat cells out of those bulges-permanently. The fat cells have left your body. They are gone ... sucked out in the surgery. They will not return. The small amount of under-the-skin fat remaining after the operation will not increase.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GAIN WEIGHT?
It's natural for your weight to fluctuate from day to day. Water retention, menstrual cycle, and other factors, including even the time of day, contribute to a pound-or-two difference when you weigh yourself But overindulgence, poor eating behavior, a slow-down or stopping of exercise-and before you know it the scale is five pounds (or more) heavier.
If you gain 10 or 20 or 30 pounds after your liposuction, you still will not have bulges in the area where the surgery has removed your fatty tissue. If you had liposuction of the thighs, for example, and you are now 25 pounds heavier than you were immediately after the surgery, your thighs will not be as thick as they were when you had the operation. The fat cells you had are gone. They cannot increase in size because they no longer are in your body.
What happens, however, is that your excessive weight gain shows up in the bulges in other body areas, because the fat cells already in those areas will enlarge to hold more fat. Suddenly you may find you're suffering from love handles ... or costal fat pads ... or a double chin. You may even bulge enough so you need another liposuction-in a body part that previously had not been troublesome.
WHAT DO I DO?
Fortunately, there is an answer. The results you see a year or two-or five or-after liposuction depend upon your commitment to your new body image.
* Weight-watching, with constant attention to diet.
* Exercise, frequently and regularly, specific for body parts.
*These are the key to your permanent satisfaction after liposuction. These are what you must do.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
If you have chosen a surgeon for your liposuction who maintains a comprehensive practice in which follow-up care through diet, exercise, behavior modification, and psychological therapy is emphasized, you will find it easier to maintain your commitment to cultivating your beauty. It is not necessary for the surgeon to see you for long-term follow-up help, but he or she should be able to refer you to competent after-care by qualified persons who can continue to help.
PSYCHOLOGY IS IMPORTANT
Do not overlook the importance of psychology in keeping your resolutions for diet and exercise after liposuction. It is not easy to think of yourself as "thin" again, especially if you have spent a large part of your adult life thinking and believing and behaving as if you were fat. It is not easy to eat only when you are hungry, rather than in social situations. It's not simple to form new eating habits, based on health and beauty, instead of gluttony and desire.
Have you always eaten a doughnut at morning coffee break? Do you consistently lunch at fast-food carryouts? Do you compulsively think about a favorite food, such as chocolate, ice cream, or pie?
If so, it will take a conscientious effort to pack an apple or other fruit for lunch, to say "No, thanks" when the sweet rolls are passed your way, to pass up the extra-large servings of ice cream when you're out shopping.
A comprehensive follow-up after liposuction will make sure you have access to counseling that will help you develop good eating habits.
Exercise, too, ultimately is up to you. You don't necessarily have to work out at a health club, though it helps. You don't have to join a gym or a YMCA, but many former liposuction patients do. Even simple walking, along with the exercises for specific body parts I've recommended in other chapters of this book, can make the difference in whether or not you keep the attractive appearance that liposuction has made possible.
ADD UP THE POSITIVES
If you find yourself getting discouraged, think of the positives. You've had a thorough medical assessment.
You've come through surgery just fine. You've proved, through making the decision to have liposuction, that you care about your appearance, and are willing to spend considerable time and money improving it. Best of all, the "miracle" of liposuction has given you a second chance to have the kind of body you've always wanted.
Now it's your turn-your responsibility to take over.
And you can.Previous Chapter