One trend we see a lot of at Atlantic Coast Aesthetics involves people asking about procedures but being uncertain of the vocabulary. It can get especially confusing when discussing liposculpture, Brazilian Butt Lift and fat transfers, all of which involve the same basic process but have different outcomes. Dr. Thomas A. Pane, our founder and Chief Medical Officer, wanted to take on this question because understanding the differences and similarities between these procedures can have a significant impact in clarifying what is and is not desired from both the patient and surgeon perspectives and ensuring that everyone understands what the treatment plan will be.
Dr. Pane says that liposculpture has become a popular “fancy” synonym for liposuction, mostly used by people who want to make it sound more advanced, exciting, interesting or better than it actually is. In reality, liposculpture and liposuction are one and the same, and all they do is remove subcutaneous adipose deposits, or fat under the skin in layman’s terms. While liposuction can and does help to sculpt the area where it’s being done depending on how much fat is removed from where and how much remains, liposuction is liposuction no matter how it’s dressed up or what verbiage is used to describe it.
Once the fat is removed from beneath the skin, it can be transferred elsewhere. Some common locations for fat transfer include the face, breasts and buttocks, as well as dimpled or depressed areas on the body where the skin sags or bows inward. When the fat removed from one area via liposuction is transferred to the buttocks, this is what is known as a Brazilian Butt Lift. In other cases, such as when the breasts or face are involved, we simply say “fat transfer to the breasts,” for example.
Other synonyms for fat transfer may include “augmentation,” “lifting,” “plumping” and other similar words. Whenever the overall procedure involves transferring fat from one place to another, these terms generally refer to the same thing, depending upon where the fat is placed, in what quantities and why the procedure is being done. However, they may also mean something very different, such as “augmentation” which is accomplished by implants rather than fat transfer, or “lifts” which are achieved by making incisions and pulling the skin in the area taut instead of placing fat in the area. This is why understanding the differences between these procedures and how fat transfer can affect both the outcome and the terminology is so important.
To further muddy the waters, sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, both by laypeople and people who should really know better. Given this, it is hardly surprising that so many people are confused by the differences between the terms. Most of the time, even if the terms are mixed up, a skilled surgeon will ask sufficient probing questions to be clear on what exactly is being done and why. However, it is always in the patient’s own best interest to make sure they too are clear on the vocabulary they are using and what it means both in theoretical terms and in the more crucial sense of what will be done to their body. This is one case where an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Just like with any other type of cosmetic procedure, Dr. Pane strongly recommends that patients educate themselves on exactly what they want done and understand the limitations and possibilities of liposuction to obtain the best results. However, it is important not to get “married” to any one avenue or option until and unless an in-person clinical evaluation with a surgeon leads to a given solution. This is because many patients come in with a certain procedure or result in mind, only to find out that because of their overall health or other factors, that procedure may not be the best choice for them, or maybe even be an option at all.
If you have a question for Dr. Pane or the staff of ACA regarding anything to do with cosmetic surgery, we’re always happy to take time to talk about your needs and concerns. Simply follow us on Facebook and Twitter, call us at (561) 422-4116 or send us a message at http://acplasticsurg.com. Your question could help us help others as well if it becomes the ACA Question of the Week, answered live by Dr. Pane himself in an upcoming Google Hangout. Remember, at ACA we believe the only bad question is the one you don’t ask!