Liposuction is a procedure in which a surgeon targets very specific areas of unwanted fat between the skin and muscle for removal. Sculpting and contouring the patient’s body creates slimmer and more ideal shapes and contours. Liposuction is primarily used to eliminate stubborn areas of fat that have been resistant to diet and exercise, and areas of fat that have accumulated simply due to the aging process. Liposuction surgery can be performed alone or in conjunction with an open procedure to contour the overlying skin. Most liposuction procedures involve making a small puncture in the skin and then utilizing various modalities to loosen the fat prior to suctioning the fat through a small metal tube (cannula) and a suction device. If liposuction is being performed with a fat transfer procedure, the extracted fat will be purified and then injected into the target area of the body, such as the breast, butt, or face.
Liposuction is about shaping the body, not about weight loss. Liposuction is not meant for individuals with notable weight issues. The results are best when you are near your ideal weight. Diet and exercise should be emphasized before proceeding with these types of procedures. The following conditions could indicate that liposuction is right for you:
• Have areas of fat deposits that are out of proportion with the rest of your body and have not responded to persistent diet and exercise
• Do not have a lot of excess skin and the area is firm (your skin elasticity is good)
• Would like more definition (toning) in certain areas of your body, a sleeker contour, or more athletic appearance You will be individually assessed during your liposuction consultation to determine if you are healthy enough to undergo surgery and if liposuction will need to be performed in conjunction with another procedure to contour the skin. Liposuction is often used to remove excess fat cells from many areas of the body, including the lower legs, thighs, hips, waist, back, chest, neck, and chin.
There are various technologies used for liposuction to make the fat removal process less invasive, more predictable and safer. Some of the more common forms of technologies and techniques that your surgeon may recommend may include:
• Tumescent liposuction is where a solution of saline, local anesthesia, and adrenaline is injected into the fatty area of fat to be removed. This causes blood vessels to constrict and the fatty area to swell allowing the surgeon to effectively target the area to be treated. Most surgeons will use this in combination with other liposuction techniques to reduce post-surgical pain and bleeding.
• Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) technology is the traditional form of liposuction and involves the removal of fat with a high-powered vacuum.
• Power assisted liposuction (PAL) is a technology in which the tip of the suction tube vibrates at a rapid speed. This vibration loosens the fat cells during liposuction so that they may be suctioned away gently with less trauma to the surrounding tissues. PAL is performed using the tumescent technique.
What to expect:
Recovery from liposuction can vary with each person. Pain is mild to moderate. A dressing will be applied to the treated area. In some cases, small drainage tubes may be placed in incisions to allow excess fluid to drain from the body. When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. You will most likely be wearing a compression garment, usually used to help support and “shrink” the skin. Compression garments are typically worn for 3 weeks 24 hours a day and then at night only for the following 3 weeks (some patients may choose to wear them longer). During the first 48 hours following surgery, patients experience varying degrees of swelling. Bruising typically disappears within seven to ten days. Swelling may persist for several months after surgery. Stitches and drains will be removed within the first ten days after the procedure. Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed to help alleviate discomfort and reduce the risk of infection. Straining, bending over and lifting should be avoided during the early postoperative period. In many instances, you will be able to resume most of your normal activities within ten days or less. Return to work, depending on the job duties, can be as early as 3 to 4 days after surgery if needed. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait at least several months to get an accurate picture of the results of your surgery. Usually 90% of the healing will be completed at 1 month after surgery and the final results are seen after 6 months. The small incisions used for access of the cannula will fade over a number of months, usually becoming barely visible. The results of liposuction surgery are technically permanent because the fat cells have been removed. However, your body shape and contours might be affected by weight gain, aging, pregnancy, family genetics, and lifestyle factors. It is crucial to maintain healthy habits and a stable weight to prolong the results from liposuction. Your exercise routines can usually begin 2 weeks after surgery.
Each year thousands of women and men undergo successful liposuction procedures, experience no major problems and are happy with the results. Significant complications from Liposuction are infrequent. However, make sure you understand what surgery involves, including possible risks, complications and follow-up care. Liposuction poses various risks, including:
• Hematoma (an accumulation of blood under the skin that may require removal)
• Sensation changes
• Possible need for revisions or additional procedures
Other rare side effects can include uneven contours, rippling skin and scarring. Like any major surgery, liposuction poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia. It is also possible to have an allergic reaction to the surgical tape or other materials used during or after the procedure. You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your surgeon, both before and after your liposuction surgery. If you have any concerns about the risks involved with liposuction surgery, please consult your surgeon.