Liposuction can help sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific body areas, including the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, chin, cheeks or neck.
Who’s a Candidate?
The best candidates for liposuction are people with normal weight and firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in certain areas. Although age is not a major consideration; some older patients who have diminished skin elasticity may not achieve the same results as a younger person with tighter skin.
What are the Risks?
Risks increase when more areas are treated at the same time or the operative sites are larger in size. Risks include infection: delays in healing; the formation of fat or blood clots which may migrate to the lungs and cause death; excessive fluid loss, which can lead to shock; friction burns or other damage to the skin or nerves; and unfavorable drug reactions.
Scars from liposuction are small and strategically hidden from view. Imperfections in final appearance, however, are not uncommon. The skin’s surface may be irregular, asymmetric or even “baggy”, especially in older patients. Numbness and pigmentation changes may also occur.
Preparing for Surgery
Your surgeon will evaluate your health, determine where fat deposits lie and assess the condition of your skin. He or she will explain the methods that are most appropriate for you. Smaller volume liposuction is usually done on an outpatient basis. If a large volume of fat is being removed, you may need to stay at the hospital overnight.
If only a small amount of fat is being removed, liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia. For more extensive procedures, a regional anesthesia or general anesthesia is used.
A narrow tube, or cannula, is inserted through a tiny incision and used to vacuum the fat layer deep beneath the skin. The cannula is pushed then pulled through the fat layer, breaking up the fat cells and suctioning them out. There are several variations of this procedure, including fluid injection and ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty.
In fluid injection, first a medicated solution is injected into fatty areas, which allows the fat to be removed more easily, reduces blood loss and bruising, and provides anesthesia before and after surgery. In the tumescent liposuction, large volumes of fluid are injected. Super-wet liposuction is similar, but the amount of fluid used is less. Ultrasound-assisted ljpoplasty and Vaser uses a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. As it passes through the fat, the energy explodes the walls of fat cells, liquefying the fat. The fat is then removed using traditional liposuction techniques. Both of these techniques carry associated risks. Fluid injection techniques may cause lidocaine toxicity or a collection of fluid in the lung if too much is injected. With ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty, the heat from the ultrasound device may cause injury to the skin or deeper tissues.
After Your Surgery
After surgery, you will likely experience some fluid drainage from the incisions. A small drainage tube may be inserted for a few days to prevent fluid buildup. To control swelling and help your skin fit its new contours better, you may be fitted with a snug elastic garment that is worn over the treated area for up to 6 weeks. Stitches are removed or dissolve within the first seven to 10 days. Strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month. Although most of the bruising usually disappears within three weeks, some swelling may remain for six months or more. Your surgeon will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress and see if any additional procedures are needed.