Currently among the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures, liposuction sculpts the body by removing fat from problem areas—areas that hang on to fat even when you observe healthy exercise and eating habits. For patients who are good candidates for the procedure, it can be life-changing; but there are a lot of misconceptions about what, exactly, liposuction is meant to do and what kind of changes it’s capable of effecting.

The primary misconception out there about liposuction is the idea that it’s an “easy” weight-loss option—that you can have as much fat removed as you like, whenever you like, as long as you’re willing to pay for it. This is absolutely not true; in fact, the maximum amount of fat that can be safely liposuctioned at one time amounts to less than 10 pounds . . . hardly the dramatic overall weight reduction you might think, but very effective when the removal is focused (as it should be) on very specific pockets of fat. Women typically implement liposuction surgery below the chin, on the hips, thighs, waist, the abdomen, and areas around the breasts, while men usually choose to reduce fat deposits under the chin, around the waist, or to address gynecomastia.

A recent Huffington Post article—inspired by “Myths, Presumptions, and Facts about Obesity,” a piece published in the New England Journal of Medicine in January—did an excellent job of addressing this and commonly held (but incorrect) beliefs surrounding obesity, weight loss, and plastic surgery. In the article, Massachusetts plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Yaremchuk made it very clear that any patient whose weight is unstable and “who is seeking full-body results” is not a candidate for liposuction—primarily because patients with a BMI over 30 are higher-risk for procedure complications, but also because if a patient doesn’t practice healthy eating and exercise regularly, their results won’t last.

The bottom line: as Dr. Yaremchuk says in his article, “an educated patient is a good patient.” Do your research, don’t take every piece of popular knowledge you come across as scientific fact, and if you want to get liposuction, make sure you’ve done everything you can to make yourself a good candidate for it!