Local News

Chapel Hill Doctor Says Liposuction Not Answer To Obesity

Posted May 26, 2005 6:18 a.m. EDT

— There are many TV shows that promote body "makeovers" that involve liposuction. Plastic surgeon Dr. Athina Giannopoulos of Chapel Hill said those shows bring many people with weight problems into her office. She has a message for them that they may not want to hear.

"Liposuction -- it is not a treatment for obesity," Giannopoulos said.

Tressa Laws works out with Giannopoulos. The sessions at the Durham YMCA began last year when she asked Giannopoulos about liposuction.

"One of the main things was that she said, 'Lose the weight and then we'll talk,'" Laws said.

Liposuction can be a treatment for stubborn fat that will not come off even with exercise. Two years ago, Diane Butcher had trouble exercising. Her breasts were too big.

"I needed to go see somebody and maybe see if I can get some help making my breasts smaller, because running, it hurt," Butcher said.

Giannopoulos performed breast reduction surgery for Butcher.

"You know, it was easier for me to run. It wasn't so hard and painful or embarrassing to run," Butcher said.

"The most amazing thing about Diane is that she used the surgery and the nice, new body to make it even better," Giannopoulos said.

After weight loss, Butcher had liposuction on her abdomen and then her arms.

"I never liked my arms, and I always felt like they were my wings," Butcher said.

Giannopoulos said liposuction tools and techniques are improving. The first procedures involved bigger suction tubes and too much blood loss, but new procedures involve slimmer tools. One technique emulsifies the fat before it's removed. Another tool vibrates the unwanted tissue loose.

Giannopoulos does not call it liposuction, but liposculpture.

"It might take indeed a little more time than it used to 20 years ago, but the result is worthwhile," she said.

Last year in the United States, almost 300,000 women had a liposuction procedure, compared to 33,000 men.