Liposuction (Lipoplasty / Suction Lipectomy) one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures, liposuction sculpts the body by removing undesirable fat from areas of the body such as the abdomen, waist, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, chin, cheeks, neck and upper arms that have not responded to diet and exercise. Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be used and can last anywhere from one to five hours depending on the amount of fat being removed.
There are several different methods surgeons use when performing liposuction, including tumescent liposuction, the super-wet technique, and ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL). In all types a tiny incision is made in as inconspicuous a place as possible. A cannula (small tube) is inserted and moved back-and-forth beneath the skin, breaking up the fat layer and suctioning it out. Tumescent liposuction and super-wet liposuction use fluid injection, which facilitates fat removal, reduces blood loss, provides anesthesia during and after surgery, and helps to reduce the amount of bruising after surgery. UAL liquefies fat with ultrasonic energy and is highly precise.
After surgery, drainage tubes, compression garments and antibiotics may be needed to facilitate the healing process. Patients are encouraged to walk as soon as they are able and many return to work within a few days, although strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month. Results are visible immediately, though improvement may continue as swelling subsides during the first three months. Scars are small and inconspicuous. Other irregularities in appearance are possible, such as asymmetric or “baggy” skin, numbness and pigmentation changes.
- Who is a candidate for liposuction?
Liposuction is ideal for patients who are in good overall health and maintain a healthy lifestyle, but have one or more problem areas with unresponsive fat deposits. It is important to realize that liposuction is not a means for major weight loss, but instead removes localized areas of stubborn fat after the patient has attempted other natural weight loss methods.
- What areas of the body can be treated with liposuction?
Liposuction can be used to remove unwanted areas of localized fat from nearly any area of the body, and is most commonly used on the:
- Love handles
In many cases, more than one area can be treated during the same procedure in order to reduce operating costs and recovery times. Your doctor will develop an individualized treatment plan for you during your initial consultation.
- What happens during the liposuction procedure?
Liposuction is performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia. In most cases, a tumescent technique is used to help patients achieve their desired results through a much less invasive procedure. Ultrasound-assisted or laser liposuction techniques may also be used, depending on the amount of fat to be removed and the patient’s age and overall health.
During the procedure, several tiny incisions will be made while saline and a local anesthetic are injected into the area to expand and firm the fat, making it easier to remove. A small, thin tube called a cannula is then inserted through the incisions to suction out the fat.
No stitches are needed after liposuction since the incisions are small enough to heal on their own. The entire procedure usually lasts from one to three hours, depending on the amount of fat being removed.
- How long does recovery take?
After the liposuction procedure, patients will be able to return to work and other regular activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually after a few days. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks. It is not uncommon to experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort in the treated area, which can be reduced through main medication and the use of compression garments.
Your doctor may also place drainage tubes in the area to collect any fluid for the first few days after treatment.
- When will results be visible?
The results from the liposuction procedure are often visible right away, but will continue to improve as swelling and bruising subside. Results may appear gradually over a period of several months. Scars usually heal well and will fade with time to become less and less noticeable.
The results of liposuction can be permanent as long as patients maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. If substantial weight is gained after this procedure, results may be altered.
- Are there any risks or complications associated with liposuction?
Liposuction is considered a safe procedure with only minimal downtime and a low occurrence of mild side effects. However, as with any kind of treatment, there is a risk of complications such as infection, scarring, allergic reactions, hematoma or unsatisfactory results. Liposuction is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures and is almost always performed with no serious complications.
Patients can reduce these risks by choosing an experienced doctor to perform their procedure and by following their doctor’s instructions before and after treatment.