For many women and men, excess fat seldom collects in just one area of the body. Common regions in which people tend to store fat over time include the abdomen, flanks, buttocks, thighs, and even the knees. Fortunately, liposuction can frequently be an excellent solution for individuals desiring to reduce (or even eliminate) localized pockets of diet- and exercise-resistant fat for a slimmer, more toned physique. But exactly how many of these trouble areas can be treated in a single liposuction session?
In most instances, there isn’t a set upper limit on the number of regions that can be targeted during one liposuction treatment, as long as the quantity of fat removed does not exceed a certain amount determined by the patient’s unique anatomical indicators. For example, someone who has a relatively small physique may have less fat accumulated in each of their problem areas, allowing all regions to be addressed in a single session. In contrast, a person with a larger build may be carrying a greater volume of fat in each area, potentially requiring more than one liposuction treatment to safely extract the right amount of fatty tissue. Ultimately, of course, everything is dependant upon the exact number and size of the desired treatment areas.
As a rough guide, there are two helpful numbers that I sometimes fall back on. I think that removing more than five liters of fat and fluid will increase the chance of a major complication, so I restrict the total amount of aspirate to less than five liters when operating on a patient as an outpatient procedure. In addition, when operating on multiple areas, I take into account the percentage of the total body surface area that each region represents. If you equate the trauma of liposuction to the trauma of a second degree burn, then you should not do liposuction on regions that add up to more than 15 to 25% of the total body surface area since that is the common threshold for hospital admission when treating burns. As an example, the entire abdomen is 9% of the total body surface area, and each complete thigh is 18%. If I planned to do liposuction on the entire abdomen of a patient as well as both “saddlebags,” the total surface area would be about 9% + 5% + 5% for a total of 19%. That is fine. If, however, I was asked to do the abdomen and both circumferential thighs (9% + 18% + 18% = 45%), I would recommend against it and figure out how to reduce the total by not including some areas of the thighs or abdomen.
Due to the level of customization involved with liposuction, I encourage anyone interested in this popular body contouring procedure to seek the expertise of a board certified plastic surgeon. Once a complete exam has been conducted, he or she should be able to determine how many areas can safely be addressed at one time based on each individual’s needs and goals.