Liposuction, the single most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the U.S. today. Liposuction sculpts the body by removing undesirable fat that has not responded to diet and exercise from the abdomen, waist, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks and neck. Liposuction not only offers the opportunity to slim and contour chubby areas of the body; by removing the fat cells, it also ensures that these areas will not accumulate fatty deposits in the future.
Doctors know that all patients are different, both in their body shapes and in what they wish to achieve with liposuction. We take as much time as necessary during every pre-operative consultation to learn what each patient wants to liposuction to do for them, and to decide which technique is best. In this way, every one of our patients enjoys completely customized treatment designed with his or her specific goals in mind.
The liposuction procedure begins with the injection of a solution composed of saline (salt water), a local anesthetic called lidocaine, and a small amount of adrenaline to decrease bruising and bleeding. This is known as either the tumescent or super-wet technique, depending on the ratio of the fluid to the fatty tissue being removed.
Once this solution has been introduced into the area planned for liposuction treatment, the doctor proceeds with one of two different methods of liposuction currently approved by plastic surgeons: suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL) or ultrasonic-assisted lipectomy (UAL).
In both methods, a tiny incision is made in as inconspicuous a place as possible. In SAL, a cannula (small tube) is inserted and moved back and forth beneath the skin, breaking up the fat layer and suctioning it out. In UAL, ultrasonic energy is used to liquefy the fat before it is suctioned out with a cannula.
The liposuction procedure may last from one to five hours, depending on the amount of fat being removed. The doctor will use either local anesthesia or general anesthesia, again depending on the size of the area(s) being treated as well as several other factors. We will discuss which method is best for you during your pre-operative consultation.
After liposuction 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. Strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month.
Results of Liposuction
Results are visible immediately, and improvement often continues as swelling subsides during the first three months. Doctors make sure that scars from the liposuction cannula insertion point are small and inconspicuous.
Risks of Liposuction
Risks are uncommon when the liposuction is performed by a qualified surgeon. Nevertheless, they do occur, and may include the following:
- Delays in healing
- Fat clots or blood clots
- Fluid accumulation
- Perforation injury
- Lidocaine toxicity
- Unfavorable drug or anesthesia reactions
Irregularities in appearance are possible, such as asymmetric or “baggy” skin, numbness and pigmentation changes.