How did the term “love handles” come about, when there is nothing to love about them?

After 50 years of plastic surgery, I can assure you that it’s a misnomer. They are universally hated.

Fortunately, love handles can be eliminated fairly easily. A simple liposuction under local anesthesia usually takes care of the problem. If there is also excess loose skin, such as sun damage or lots of weight loss, there may be a need for the Renuvion. This is an instrument that is used through the holes for liposuction.

The difference is it does not remove fat, but tightens skin with the use of heat. The Renuvion produces a form of matter called plasma. The best example of plasma is a bolt of lightning. These micro “bolts of lightning” basically shrink-wrap the skin.

Occasionally, fairly thin men and women will have love handles varying from small to quite large. The treatment is the same unless they are huge and there has been lots of weight loss. Then procedures as large as circumferential excision of skin and fat may be necessary, along with liposuction, regardless of the gender. All cases must be tailored specifically toward the patient’s needs and desires.

As expected, the more extensive cases require general anesthesia.

How about the famed “muffin-tops?” These are mounds of fat at the top of the lateral buttocks and can be quite unattractive. Oddly, those with muffin-tops often have lateral depressions in the buttocks below the muffin-tops, which patients call the “hip-dip.” The muffin-tops make the depressions look worse and vice versa. Typically, the muffin-tops are liposuctioned, and the liposuctioned fat is grafted (transferred) to the depression.

When can excess fat and loose skin in the abdomen be reduced without major surgery, such as a tummy tuck? If there is no actual overlapping of the skin, liposuction with Renuvion may be sufficient. It’s all a matter of degree, and your plastic surgeon will help you with this.

Sometimes liposuction with Renuvion can be performed with a mini-tummy tuck, according to how much extra skin there is to remove or tighten. Generally, if the extra fat and loose skin is in the upper abdomen, a full tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is needed. The variation of fat and loose skin appears to be unlimited, which is the reason individual assessments are necessary to establish a plan.

Often all of the above or an assortment of the procedures mentioned above are required for optimal results. However, patients may choose to correct the part of the problem and are happy with the results or plan to do the rest of the procedures in stages.

This is why a personal visit to their plastic surgeon is important.  A careful assessment is necessary for the patients to understand the various options with expectations, limitations and recovery discussed in depth.

E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS is a board certified plastic surgeon with offices in Savannah and Bluffton.