Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, is one of the most popular cosmetic body procedures performed today. While many people develop excess fat tissue from dieting, insufficient exercise, and genetics, liposuction may also improve areas on the body who have excess fat tissue despite proper care.
Suction devices used as a surgical vacuum strip away fat cells and vacuum fat. Liposuction is commonly used to treat fat cells in the thighs, legs, buttocks, and stomach area. Often times liposuction is performed in conjunction with other procedures such as tummy tucks. Another form of liposuction is known as liposculpture, which uses advanced techniques to achieve body contouring.
Who is a Good Candidate For Liposuction?
A good candidate for liposuction should have realistic expectations about the results of the procedure as well as these basic qualities:
- Average or only slightly above-average weight
- Firm, elastic skin
- In good overall health
- Concentrated pockets of fat that do not respond well to diet and exercise
Patients with poor skin quality (cellulite) are not good candidates for liposuction because they may develop skin irregularities due to under- or over-correction of localized fat deposits. Age is generally not a major consideration when discussing liposuction; however, older patients often have less elasticity in their skin and thus may not achieve the same benefits of liposuction that a younger patient with tighter skin might achieve.
What Do I Need To Know Before Undergoing Liposuction?
The first step before undergoing liposuction will be to arrange a consultation with your surgeon. During the consultation, your surgeon will discuss which options are best for you, your skin type, the effectiveness and safety of the procedure, the potential financial cost, and what your expectations should be. Do not hesitate to ask the surgeon any questions you may have. Now is not the time to be shy.
Once you have decided to undergo liposuction, your surgeon will give you any instructions you will need to prepare for the surgery. This may include dietary guidelines or alcohol restrictions or the taking or avoiding of certain vitamins. Be sure to tell your surgeon of any allergies you have as well as any and all medications you are taking. This includes over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as herbal supplements.
How is Liposuction Done?
Depending on the type of liposuction you are undergoing, the procedure may be performed as an outpatient procedure at the doctor's office or surgery center, or if large amounts of fat are being removed, the procedure will be done in a hospital and may require an overnight stay.
Before the procedure begins you will be given an anesthetic. Again, depending on the degree of fat being removed and the type of liposuction being performed, anesthesia varies. It may only be locally applied or you may require a general application in which case the surgery will be done while you are sleeping.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the liposuction procedure is performed using a suction device attached to a small, stainless steel instrument called a cannula. Through small incisions, the cannula is inserted into fatty areas between skin and muscle where it removes excess fat either using a suction pump or a large syringe. This results in a smoother, improved body contour. The length of the procedure will vary with the amount of fat needing removal.
What Are The Risks of Liposuction?
All surgical procedures involve some risk. However, liposuction has a good safety record and the risks associated with the procedure are minimized when performed by a specially trained, board-certified plastic surgeon.
Although rare, risks include infection and skin discoloration. As with all surgery, common sense is important. The risk of medical problems can be minimized by avoiding extremely long procedures or excessive removal of fat.
Are The Results of Liposuction Permanent?
The fat cells are removed permanently during liposuction, so if you gain weight after the procedure, it usually will not concentrate in the area that was treated. However, it is important to note that liposuction will not prevent you from regaining weight. To keep your new shape and new weight after liposuction, you must follow a proper diet and exercise plan.
How Long Does Recovery After Liposuction Last?
Under most circumstances, when liposuction is an outpatient procedure, recovery is usually quick. Most people can return to work within a few days and to normal activities within about two weeks. You should expect bruising, swelling, and soreness for a least a few weeks. However, every person's outcome will vary based on factors such as volume of fat cells removed and area of removal. Your doctor will discuss what results you can expect to achieve and how to best maintain your new body shape.