Liposuction surgery removes excess deposits of fat to sculpt an improved shape to a patient’s body. While liposuction is best known as a fat removal procedure, it is also one of the best procedures to help a patient refine his or her shape. In fact, cosmetic surgeons often use liposuction to refine the results of other procedures, as no other technique allows for such detailed improvements in body contour.
Who is a good candidate for Liposuction?
You may be a candidate for Liposuction if:
- You have excess fat deposits on your hips, belly, thighs, neck, chin, arms or chest that won’t respond to diet or exercise. Liposuction is excellent for reducing fatty bulges and sculpting a beautifully natural contour to the body.
- You feel like certain areas are out of proportion with the rest of my figure. Reducing excess fat on one area of the body can bring it into better balance with your natural features.
- You have good skin elasticity – sagging skin is not a problem for you. For optimal results, the skin should have good enough tone to contract to the body’s new contours.
- You are at or near your desired body weight. Liposuction is best for reducing localized fat deposits, and the most satisfied patients are typically happy with their overall weight before surgery.
Important Things to know:
It’s important to have realistic expectations about what liposuction can achieve. If any of the following apply to you, then liposuction may only offer limited success in helping you achieve your goals. Your cosmetic surgeon can recommend the options best suited to your needs.
- You have loose, sagging skin that you want to address. Since liposuction is designed specifically to target fatty tissue, it will not significantly improve the appearance of loose skin. Other body contouring procedures, such as a tummy tuck or body lift, may be better options for you.
- You want to lose a significant amount of weight. Liposuction can improve your shape, which can help you look thinner and more fit, but it’s not a weight loss method. While some overweight patients can benefit from the reshaping effects, the most satisfied patients tend to be happy with their weight prior to surgery.
The liposuction procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local anesthesia, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions.
First, diluted local anesthesia is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. Then a thin hollow tube, or cannula, is inserted through the incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. The dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.
Preparation and Recovery:
In preparing for liposuction surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Today’s advanced liposuction techniques are designed to minimize swelling, trauma and discomfort, and when the procedure is performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, recovery from liposuction can be remarkably quick. Many patients return to work just a few days after their procedures, depending on the physical requirements of their jobs and the extent of their procedures. While your cosmetic surgeon can prescribe pain medication, most patients find over the counter options more than enough to manage any post-operative soreness.
Your cosmetic surgeon may give you a compression garment to wear for a few weeks following surgery. This helps to minimize swelling and encourage optimal skin contraction. With proper care, scars should fade significantly over the months following surgery; in many cases, scars are barely visible after a year or so.
Types of Liposuction:
There are many different liposuction techniques available to surgeons today. The main difference between each type of liposuction is the technology they use to assist the fat removal process. The manufacturers of each type claim to have unique advantages, and cosmetic surgeons will sometimes prefer a certain technique depending on the nature of the procedure. Just remember that the skill and experience of the cosmetic surgeon performing liposuction will make the biggest difference in your results.
Below are some of the types of liposuction more commonly used by cosmetic surgeons today:
- Tumescent Liposuction:
- With this technique, a cosmetic surgeon will inject an anesthetic “tumescent” solution into the treatment area to minimize bleeding and discomfort during the procedure. Depending on the patient, tumescent liposuction can often be performed with local anesthesia.
Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction:
- This technique utilizes ultrasound energy to help break up the fatty tissue and loosen it from the body, allowing for easier removal of larger amounts of fat with a faster surgery. Variations include VASER Liposelection.
Laser Assisted Liposuction:
- Known under brand names like SmartLipo and Slimlipo, these techniques use laser energy to help dislodge fat cells.
Suction Assisted Liposuction:
- This technique uses a vacuum like device to help remove the fat. Power Assisted Liposuction is a similar technique that involves a tool that enhances the motion of the cannula used to remove the fat.
Common Treatment Areas
Risks and Complications:
Complications are unlikely. That said, as with all surgery, some complications are possible, your surgeon will discuss each of these risks comprehensively at your consultation.
- Anesthesia risks
- Change in skin sensation that may persist
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs and abdominal organs
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fluid accumulation
- Irregular contours or asymmetries
- Irregular pigmentation
- Need for revision surgery
- Persistent swelling
- Poor wound healing
- Rippling or loose skin, worsening of cellulite
- Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound with the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty technique