Longwood Plastic Surgery | Michael Tantillo, M.D.


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How many times have you looked in the mirror and thought to yourself, "If I could just get rid of this little bump here..." or "If I could just take an inch or 2 off there..."? We all know about eating right and living a healthy lifestyle, but what do you do when you follow all the rules and your look still comes up a little short of your ideal? Liposuction from Boston-area plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Tantillo can be an effective, lasting solution.

"When considering liposuction, focus on the knowledge and skill of the surgeon over marketing hype about the latest gadget."

– Dr. Tantillo

Ready to learn more about what liposuction in greater Boston, MA can achieve? Visit with Dr. Tantillo in person when you request a consultation using his online form or by calling (617) 973-9700 for an appointment.

What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction is a body sculpting procedure that is ideal for people who need a little help reshaping their "trouble spots." Through this surgical procedure, localized areas of excess fat are removed through tiny incisions. Liposuction is not considered a weight-loss method or a treatment for obesity; but, it is an excellent way to enhance body contours. The procedure is ideal for removing fat deposits that do not respond to diet and exercise.

What Areas Can Liposuction Improve?

Liposuction can be used to safely reduce fat from practically every trouble spot (see illustration), including:

  • Upper arms
  • Back fat and bra rolls on the upper back
  • Belly fat
  • Double-chin and thickened neck
  • Enlarged male chest
  • Love handles on the flanks
  • Saddle bags on the outer thighs
  • Inner thighs that touch at the top or all the way to the knees

Liposuction Treatment Areas
Liposuction Treatment Areas

How Does the Body Store Fat?

When considering liposuction, it can be helpful to understand that fat forms on the body in 2 distinct layers:

  • Superficial fat forms close to the skin and is made up of small fat cells encased in multiple fibrous compartments. The thickness of this layer does not vary greatly with weight changes.
  • Deep fat forms below the superficial layer, close to the muscle. This layer is made up of larger fat cells that are loosely surrounded by connective tissue. The thickness of this layer changes considerably with weight gain and loss.

As an experienced liposuction surgeon, Dr. Tantillo provides smooth, attractive results by removing fat from the deep layer without impacting the superficial fat layer. When fat cells are removed, the body doesn't make more. Therefore, reducing the amount of deep fat not only gets rid of trouble spots, but it also prevents the same trouble spots from forming again in the future.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Liposuction?

Women and men of all ages and from many different backgrounds can benefit from liposuction. Candidates should be healthy, be at or near their ideal weight, and have good skin elasticity. Liposuction may be right for you if you want to:

  • Get rid of fat that doesn't respond to diet and exercise
  • Improve body shape in areas such as the hips, thighs, stomach, or upper arms
  • Increase comfort in clothing and feel better about how you look in more revealing outfits
  • Attain a modest increase in breast size or enhanced breast shape through fat grafting breast augmentation
  • Enlarge and shape the buttocks through fat transfer buttock augmentation
  • Enhance the results of other surgical procedures such as a tummy tuck or breast enhancement

It is important to understand that liposuction is not a substitute for eating right and getting regular exercise.

Who Is Not a Good Candidate for Liposuction?

If you are a smoker, obese, or have particularly poor skin tone, liposuction may not be advisable. Skin that has lost its elasticity may not reshape itself to your leaner body contour, resulting in sagging and wrinkling. In this case, you may need another body contouring procedure that removes excess skin, such as an arm lift or body lift. The best way to determine whether liposuction is right for you is to talk with Dr. Tantillo one-on-one for your personal assessment.

Are There Alternatives to Liposuction?

CoolSculpting® is an innovative, nonsurgical treatment that can reduce areas of stubborn superficial fat on common trouble spots such as the belly, hips, and thighs. These simple office treatments use a controlled cooling process called Cryolipolysis® to break down fat cells without harming other tissues.

After treatment, the body naturally removes the fat cells over time, leaving treated areas slimmer. There is no anesthetic during a treatment session, and there is usually no downtime needed. Results are long-term, because the fat cells do not grow back.

What Can I Expect During the Liposuction Procedure?

When performing liposuction, Dr. Tantillo uses the tumescent technique, in which a relatively large volume of dilute local anesthetic is injected into the areas of unwanted fat. If only small areas are being treated, the tumescent fluid usually contains enough anesthetic to provide sufficient pain relief. Otherwise, Dr. Tantillo has general or twilight anesthesia administered by a board-certified anesthesiologist.

After anesthesia is administered, tiny incisions are made near the targeted areas and the fat is suctioned out through a narrow tube called a cannula. Incisions are then closed with surgical tape or stitches.

Why Does Dr. Tantillo Perform Liposuction With an Anesthesiologist?

General and twilight anesthesia are extremely safe, and having them administered under the care of an anesthesiologist enables Dr. Tantillo to more effectively treat the fat deposits and provide a more comfortable patient experience. Not having an anesthesiologist on the surgical team can save the patient money, but it sacrifices safety and the quality of the results.

What Should I Know About Liposuction Enhancements?

Today, there are many heavily advertised techniques that add energy to the liposuction cannula in order to break up the fat from the surrounding tissue. Options include:

  • Power-assisted liposuction (PAL): Mechanical energy can be generated by a motor in the handle of the liposuction cannula to make it vibrate back and forth rapidly.
  • Laser liposuction: Light energy at the end of the cannula is designed to melt the fat cells before they are removed. However, laser energy also destroys soft tissue and can increase uncontrolled scarring between the skin and muscles, resulting in an uneven appearance. Popular forms of laser liposuction are Smartlipo® and SlimLipo™.
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): Ultrasound energy at the end of the cannula shakes fat cells loose, making them easier to remove. VASERlipo® is a popular UAL technique.

Dr. Tantillo cautions people who are considering these techniques because "enhanced" liposuction systems such as VASERlipo, Smartlipo, and SlimLipo are not considered medical devices by the FDA; therefore, manufacturers of these devices are legally allowed to make claims that are not supported by scientific research in peer-reviewed journals. In contrast, for example, breast implants are considered medical devices; therefore, one company cannot claim its implants are superior to another's unless scientific data in medical journals supports such a claim. For a non-medical example, consider automobile advertising: One car company can freely advertise that its cars are better than another's with no objective data to support the claim. When it comes to advertising, liposuction techniques are like cars. In summary, buyer beware.

There is no scientific evidence to support a claim that adding energy (laser, ultrasound, or mechanical) to the liposuction cannula leads to better results, either by increased fat removal, enhanced skin tightening, or both. The quality of the result is most dependent on the skill and experience of the surgeon.

Dr. Tantillo's Liposuction Approach

Dr. Tantillo uses the following 4-step approach to liposuction surgery, which enables him to consistently provide smooth, attractive results:

  1. Inject tumescent solution into treatment areas and wait at least 10 minutes before further treatment. This delay is necessary to minimize bruising.
  2. Separate the fat using a specially designed cannula that is not attached to suction. This particular cannula allows for aggressive fat separation, meaning more fat cells are able to be removed. This step is performed without suction to avoid creating contour irregularities.
  3. Aspirate (remove with suction) the fat with a standard cannula. The fat is free at this time and is easily aspirated, resulting in a relatively high volume of fat removal in a safe manner. When treating a very large area, Dr. Tantillo will at times use a PAL system for fat removal because it makes the fat removal more efficient.
  4. Even out the remaining fat layer with a specially designed cannula for smooth results.

Why Choose Dr. Tantillo for Liposuction?

Women and men from the Boston area and Rhode Island choose liposuction surgery with Dr. Tantillo to achieve their ideal profile. Dr. Tantillo is a board-certified plastic surgeon who has years of specialized education and training in liposuction. He has the surgical skill, experience, and artistic eye to make your surgery a success. He optimizes patient safety by limiting the amount of fat he removes and the number of areas he treats at one time, and he uses only accredited surgical facilities.

Recovery After Liposuction

Dr. Tantillo typically performs liposuction as an outpatient procedure, so you will be able to return home the day of your surgery under the care of an adult. Immediately after your liposuction procedure, treated areas will be swollen and sore. Swelling will increase slightly and then gradually disappear over the first few weeks following surgery. For at least 3 weeks, you will need to wear a compression garment.

Recovery after liposuction is largely dependent on the number of areas treated, the overall volume of fat removed, and whether any other procedures were performed at the same time. If you had liposuction only on small areas, you'll likely be ready to return to normal activities in a day or 2; if larger areas were treated, you may need a week or so before resuming all normal activities.


Most liposuction patients attain very nice results by 4 to 6 weeks; however, it takes 4 to 6 months for the skin to completely tighten. The fat cells removed with liposuction never come back, so as long as you maintain a healthy lifestyle and stable weight, your results will be permanent.

Dr. Tantillo's liposuction patients often enjoy an enhanced body contour, smoother profile, and slimmer silhouette. After your procedure, you can benefit from greater confidence and an enhanced self-image, finally ridding yourself of those stubborn fat deposits that were detracting from your looks.

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Michael Tantillo, M.D.