While visiting my parents in Los Angeles last week, we toured the famous J Paul Getty Museum, which houses a number of famous paintings and sculptures. My wife photographed one of these for me with her iPhone:
As a wood and marble sculptor myself, I certainly appreciate the artist’s skill. As a plastic surgeon, the bronze sculpture got me thinking about—yes, you guessed it—liposuction. Since the sculptor, Rene Magritte, has very purposefully and dramatically divided the sculpture into thirds, let’s categorize these:
Lower third: The preoperative liposuction appearance
Middle third: The actual postoperative result.
Upper third: The desired postoperative result.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to take the lower third and turn it into the upper third (i.e. if you are significantly overweight, liposuction will make you smaller, but it won’t make you skinny). On the other hand, if you are starting with only a modest amount of excess fat (middle third), then achieving the upper third may be more realistic.
Also bear in mind that the two of us (plastic surgeon and patient) working together are much more effective than either of us working alone. Liposuction with postoperative dieting and aggressive exercise can take a middle third result and push it closer to an upper third result. Liposuction with postoperative binge eating can take a middle third result and push it closer to a lower third result.
Liposuction (liposculpture) in a realistic, motivated patient is generally quite effective. In the unrealistic, unmotivated patient, it is a waste of time and energy.
I am unsure whether the artist was referring to the unrealistic liposuction patient—or perhaps the overzealous plastic surgeon—when she aptly titled her sculpture, “Delusions of Grandeur.”
|Before||After 5.4 Liters (Post-Op 1 Month)|
** This 27 year old woman from McKinney presented to Dr. Friedman requesting liposuction of her abdomen, flanks, upper back, inner thighs, mammary folds, and arms. She underwent 5.4 liters of liposuction and at her 1 month follow up she demonstrates improved contour of all regions including a flatter stomach and smoother waist line.
Ronald M. Friedman, M.D.
Director, West Plano Plastic Surgery Center
Former Chief of Plastic Surgery, Parkland Memorial Hospital, Dallas