Liposuction is a procedure that can help sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific areas, including the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks and neck. During the past decade, liposuction, which is also known as “lipoplasty” or “suction lipectomy,” has benefited from several new refinements. Today, a number of new techniques, including ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL), the tumescent technique, and the super-wet technique, are helping many plastic surgeons to provide selected patients with more precise results and quicker recovery times.
The Best Candidates For Liposculpture
The best candidates for liposuction are normal-weight people with firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in certain areas. You should be physically healthy, psychologically stable and realistic in your expectations. Your age is not a major consideration; however, older patients may have diminished skin elasticity and may not achieve the same results as a younger patient with tighter skin.
Liposuction carries greater risk for individuals with medical problems such as diabetes, significant heart or lung disease, poor blood circulation, or those who have recently had plastic surgery near the area to be contoured.
All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty And Risk
Liposuction is normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped and the physician is adequately trained.
Your doctor must have advanced surgical skills to perform procedures that involve the removal of a large amount of fat (more than 5 liters or 5,000 ccs); ask your doctor about his or her other patients who have had similar procedures and what their results were. Also, more extensive liposuction procedures require attentive after-care.
Though they are rare, complications can and do occur. Risks increase if a greater number of areas are treated at the same time, or if the operative sites are larger in size. Removal of a large amount of fat and fluid may require longer operating times than may be required for smaller operations.
The scars from liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view. However, imperfections in the final appearance are not uncommon after lipoplasty. The skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric or even “baggy,” especially in the older patient. Numbness and pigmentation changes may occur.
Planning Your Liposuction Surgery
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie and assess the condition of your skin. Your surgeon will explain the body-contouring methods that may be most appropriate for you.
Individuals considering liposuction often feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of options and techniques being promoted today. However, your plastic surgeon can help. In deciding which is the right treatment approach for you, your doctor will consider effectiveness, safety, cost and appropriateness for your needs.
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets and certain medications. If you develop a cold or an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, your surgery may have to be postponed.
The Liposuction Surgery
The time required to perform liposuction may vary considerably, depending on the size of the area, the amount of fat being removed, the type of anesthesia and the technique used.
Liposuction is a procedure in which localized deposits of fat are removed to recontour one or more areas of the body. Through a tiny incision, a narrow tube or cannula is inserted and used to vacuum the fat layer that lies deep beneath the skin. The cannula is pushed then pulled through the fat layer, breaking up the fat cells and suctioning them out. The suction action is provided by a vacuum pump or a large syringe, depending on the surgeon’s preference.
Fluid is lost along with the fat, and it’s crucial that this fluid be replaced during the procedure to prevent shock. For this reason, patients need to be carefully monitored and receive intravenous fluids during and immediately after surgery.
Liposuction Technique Variations
The basic technique of liposuction, as described above, is used in all patients undergoing this procedure. However, as the procedure has been developed and refined, several variations have been introduced.
Fluid Injection, a technique in which a medicated solution is injected into fatty areas before the fat is removed, is commonly used by plastic surgeons today. The fluid — a mixture of intravenous salt solution, lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine (a drug that contracts blood vessels) — helps the fat be removed more easily, reduces blood loss and provides anesthesia during and after surgery. Fluid injection also helps to reduce the amount of bruising after surgery.
Large volumes of fluid — sometimes as much as three times the amount of fat to be removed — are injected in the tumescent technique. Tumescent liposuction, typically performed on patients who need only a local anesthetic, usually takes significantly longer than traditional liposuction (sometimes as long as 4 to 5 hours). However, because the injected fluid contains an adequate amount of anesthetic, additional anesthesia may not be necessary.
The super-wet technique is similar to the tumescent technique, except that lesser amounts of fluid are used. Usually the amount of fluid injected is equal to the amount of fat to be removed. This technique often requires IV sedation or general anesthesia and typically takes one to two hours of surgery time.
Ultrasound-Assisted Lipoplasty (UAL). This technique requires the use of a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. As it passes through the areas of fat, the energy explodes the walls of the fat cells, liquefying the fat. The fat is then removed with the traditional liposuction technique.
After Your Liposuction Surgery
After surgery, you will likely experience some fluid drainage from the incisions. Occasionally, a small drainage tube may be inserted beneath the skin for a couple of days to prevent fluid build-up. To control swelling and to help your skin better fit its new contours, you may be fitted with a snug elastic garment to wear over the treated area for a few weeks.
Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery. Even though the newer techniques are believed to reduce some post-operative discomforts, you may still experience some pain, burning, swelling, bleeding and temporary numbness.
Healing is a gradual process. Your surgeon will probably tell you to start walking around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. You will begin to feel better after about a week or two and you should be back at work within a few days following your surgery. The stitches are removed or dissolve on their own within the first week to 10 days.
You will see a noticeable difference in the shape of your body quite soon after surgery. However, improvement will become even more apparent after about four to six weeks, when most of the swelling has subsided. After about three months, any persistent mild swelling usually disappears and the final contour will be visible.
If your expectations are realistic, you will probably be very pleased with the results of your surgery. You may find that you are more comfortable in a wide variety of clothes and more at ease with your body. And, by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, you can help to maintain your new shape.
For liposuction in Glendale California contact board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Saul Berger
Content courtesy of PlasticSurgery.org
Women may have liposuction performed under the chin, on their hips, thighs, and stomach, and in the under arm and breast area.
For men, common sites include under the chin and around the waist. Liposuction may also be used in the reduction of enlarged male breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia.
Healthy, normal-weight people with elastic skin and pockets of excess fat are good candidates for surgery.
The best candidates for liposuction are of normal weight with localized areas of excess fat– for example, in the buttocks, hips, and thighs.
The surgeon inserts a cannula through small incisions in the skin. At the other end of the tube is a vacuum-pressure unit that suctions off the fat.
A snug compression garment worn after surgery helps reduce swelling.
Improvement will become apparent after about six weeks, when most of the swelling has subsided.
As healing progresses, a more proportional look will emerge.
A slimmer body contour can help you feel more confident and comfortable.
What Is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a procedure that allows the removal of fat from specific areas of the body without the need for large or highly visible incisions. Although tiny incisions are necessary to extract fat, the good news is that the incisions are typically less than a 1/4” in length. These tiny incisions provide enough access to insert long and thin tubes (usually metal) that allow injection of fluid at the beginning of the procedure, and then removal of fat for the contouring. The incisions may be closed with stitches, or may be left open to allow excess fluid to drain out.
Who Is A Candidate For Liposuction?
In general terms, liposuction is best suited for removal of fat from specific body parts where the skin has a good probability of “snapping back” over the treated areas without appearing loose. It is not advisable as a substitute for general weight loss, although you can still be a good candidate if your weight is above ideal body weight. If you have an area that you would like to target for fat removal but the skin in that area is loose, has stretch marks, or actually hangs over, liposuction is less likely to be a good option. Liposuction is also an excellent procedure to add to other cosmetic procedures under the same anesthesia for enhanced results.
What Happens To The Fat After It Is Removed?
There are two possibilities for managing the fat that is removed during liposuction. One option is to preserve it in sterile canisters and transfer the fat to other body areas that could benefit from additional volume. The fat is transferred by an injection technique, which leaves minimal or no added scars. Common target areas for fat transfer include the face, breasts, and buttocks (“Brazilian Butt Lift” or “BBL”). Although some of the fat that is transferred will not survive for the long term, it appears that more than half of the volume can last. The second option with the fat taken out by liposuction is to opt out of any fat transfer, in which case the surgery center will discard the fat safely.
How Difficult Is The Recovery After Liposuction?
For most people, the recovery is relatively easy. Since the fat removal does not involve deeper structures or muscles, you are not very restricted in activity after surgery. Most patients complain of soreness as their main symptom, and this is to be expected early on. However, soreness dissipates after several days, and is almost completely gone after 1 – 2 weeks. Most patients use compression garments to apply support to the areas treated, and it is common that patients feel more comfortable with the garments on rather than off. The healing process for liposuction is a gradual, that takes at least several months to complete.