Liposuction, also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, is the surgical removal of localized or regional excess fatty tissue.
This technique may be used to reduce localized fat deposits of the:
» Cheeks, chin and neck
» Upper arms
» Breast or chest area
» Abdomen and waist
» Hips and buttocks
» Inner knee
» Calves and ankles
In some cases, liposuction is performed alone, in other cases it is used with plastic surgery procedures as a facelift, male or female breast reduction or abdominoplasty. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise. It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite, the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips and buttocks.
Liposuction can, however, permanently reshape body contours where excess fat deposits create areas that are disproportionately large in an otherwise balanced figure.
Ideal candidates for liposuction are adults of any age within 30% of their ideal weight and with firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone. Good candidates are defined as:
» Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
» Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for body contouring
Special considerations may be necessary for individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or previous surgery to the treatment area.
Liposuction is a highly individualized procedure that requires careful consideration of patient’s specific concerns and the areas in which the patient desires improvement. An evaluation of skin tone and elasticity, as well as fat density and distribution will determine appropriate techniques for each case.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure. All liposuction techniques require incisions in or near the area to be suctioned for insertion of an appropriately sized cannula. In some cases, incisions may be small that no stitches are required for closure. Once the cannula tip has loosened excess fat, the fat is removed using a surgical vacuum or powered suction device. An alternative method uses a syringe attached to the cannula to manually suction away fat.
Manual suctioning with a syringe is more commonly used when areas of fat removal are small and very isolated, or when it is planned that fat will processed and reinjected in other areas of the body. This procedure is called fat grafting and may be used to fill-in wrinkles or hollow areas of the face or depressions appearing anywhere on the face or body.
Where large amounts are suctioned from one area, compression garments may assist during the healing process to help skin conform to the reduced body contours. Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts, usually more than 5 liters of fat are suctioned.
Once liposuction is completed, a compression garment or elastic bandages may cover treatment areas. These assist to control swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours.
Initial healing will include swelling, numbness, soreness, bruising and discomfort that can be controlled with medication. These are common conditions.
The plastic surgeon will provide specific postoperative instructions based on the technique and extent of the procedure. These will include instructions on the use of any compression garments, expected return to activity and appropriate care of incisions. Following all instructions carefully is essential to success of the outcome. In general, a return to light, normal activity is possible as soon as the patient feels ready and is encouraged to prevent blood clots and other complications.
Initial wound healing may take from 5 to 10 days, at which time any sutures will be removed. Healing will continue for several weeks as swelling continues to dissipate. Incisions lines will improve over time.
Possible risk of liposuction include uneven contours, rippling or loose skin, skin or nerve damage, irregular pigmentation, infection at the surgical site, fat clots, blood clots, excessive fluid loss or fluid accumulation. All surgery risks carries risks associated with anesthesia.
It may take several months for swelling to fully dissipate. The fulfillment felt from the initial results of liposuction should continue so long as the patient maintains weight and practice a healthy lifestyle that includes eating well and regular physical activity.