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Kinder, Gentler Liposuction: More Like Massage Than Surgery

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"Most plastic surgeons really repudiate that study, and many of those deaths [are] cases done in hospitals with anesthesiologists in attendance; [therefore,] as I say, they were plastic surgery deaths," dermatologist Coleman says.

One plastic surgeon contacted by WebMD had a different dispute, questioning whether dermatologists even have sufficient training to do liposuction. According to Rafael Convit, MD, liposuction can lead to life-threatening complications and poor aesthetic results, and in many cases, dermatologists aren't even allowed to do the operation in a hospital.

"They are doing it in their offices just like an internist can do brain surgery, if they do it in their office ... I'm not sure that dermatologists are the type of surgeon that should be doing a lot of liposuction, if any at all," Convit, a plastic surgeon in private practice, tells WebMD.

Convit says that patients should take extra care to make sure that their doctor has the right credentials and enough experience to do liposuction.

The new method won't give a person a perfect body, Coleman says. Rather, he says, the end result is more like having spot-reduced 10 pounds or so. And surgery is still no substitute for diet and exercise, he says -- both in losing weight initially and in keeping it off after liposuction.

Also, according to the multicenter study, most doctors need about seven tries with the new device before they become thoroughly competent with the high-speed machine.

It's estimated that as much as 90% of all liposuction patients are women. Most of the operations are strictly cosmetic, although liposuction can be used to treat fatty lumps, large breasts in men, and glands that produce excess amounts of sweat. You can expect the new powered procedure to cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.

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