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An easy fat fix?

Liposuction—a surgical procedure that removes accumulated fat in areas like the abdomen, hips and chin—may seem like the closest thing to waving a magic wand and making fat disappear. If only it were that easy.

Plastic surgeons use a suction device, a small tube called a cannula, to siphon fat from beneath the skin. The result is a smoother, more contoured body shape. Liposuction can boost self-esteem and make you look slimmer, but it’s a cosmetic procedure, not a weight-loss tool.

You may be an ideal candidate for liposuction if you have average or slightly above-average weight; firm, elastic skin; good overall health; and concentrated pockets of fat that are resistant to diet and exercise. People who are not good candidates include those who are obese or overweight. You shouldn’t have liposuction if you have diabetes, heart disease or any condition that affects healing.

Full recovery can take weeks, and you may not see final results for months. Also, as with any other surgical procedure, complications may occur. Risks include infection, temporary swelling, punctured organs, scarring or “skin death” and increased sensitivity or numbness in the treated area.

You also risk death from complications such as embolisms—pieces of loosened fat travel to the lungs or brain, causing clots—infections and anesthesia poisoning.

Also, liposuction isn’t necessarily permanent—something else to consider while you weigh the risks.