What is Liposuction?
“Lipo" comes from the Greek word "lipos," meaning “fat”. Liposuction is a surgical technique that improves the body's contour & reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat which is deposited between the skin and muscle. This techniques is used to remove localized fat deposited from those areas of the body that haven't responded to diet and exercise
Hips and buttocks
Abdomen and waist
Cheeks, chin and neck
Calves and ankles
Who Can Have Liposuction Surgery?
A good candidate for liposuction is a person who is in a good health, having a realistic expectations, and is likely to be happy with the results of liposuction. The best candidate for liposuction is the one having:
Close to normal weight
Have pockets of excess fat, but with firm skin & a stable body weight
Are physically and psychologically healthy
Should not have any active diseases or pre-existing medical conditions.
Have realistic expectations about what they hope the procedure will do for them
Have a healthy skin with good elasticity, so that the skin is able to bounce back to its former tightness once the fat is removed
Any person who is in a good general health and have a positive attitude and realistic expectations is a perfect candidate!
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Why go for Liposuction Surgery?
Liposuction is recommended for those individual who did not happen to achieve the desired results with a lifestyle modification. It is used to improve a person looks.
When person gains weight, fat cells increase in size and volume. Liposuction reduces the number of these fat cells in that specific area of the body. The amount of fat removed depends on the appearance of the area and the volume of fat. The resulting contour changes are usually permanent — as long as the body weight remains stable. After liposuction, skin molds to the new contours of the treated areas. If a person had a good skin tone and elasticity, the skin is likely to appear smooth. If the skin is thin with poor elasticity, then the treated areas of the skin might appear loose.
Liposuction surgery is sometimes used to treat certain conditions, including:
Lymphedema: a chronic (long-term) condition in which excess lymph (fluid) collects in tissues, causing edema (swelling). Liposuction is used to reduce swelling, discomfort and pain.
Extreme weight loss after obesity
Benign fatty tumors (lipomas).
Abnormal enlargement of the male breasts (gynecomastia or pseudo gynecomastia).
Problems with metabolism of fat in the body (lipodystrophy).
Excessive sweating in the armpit area (axillary hyperhidrosis).
What a Liposuction Surgery won’t do:
Liposuction surgery 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 – or loose saggy skin.
It will not help in getting rid of stretch marks
These are pros and cons to weigh when considering liposuction surgery:
Will make your clothes fit better and your body appear slimmer.
Results may be affected by weight gain, aging and pregnancy.
Uses small incisions, which result in smaller scars than open body contouring procedures
Liposuction is not meant to improve the look of cellulite or loose skin.
The expected or desired chances can actually be apparent or visible just few days after the procedure.
Body can easily react unfavorably to any drugs and medicines that you’re exposed while the procedure is on-going.
Can be done under sedation with less risks and shorter operating times than similar open body contouring procedures.
Need to lose weight to be a better candidate for liposuction. Liposuction isn’t intended to be a weight loss solution.
Another great pro of liposuction is that fats are permanently eliminated from your body. This only means that if right maintenance is performed, you will be able to keep your lean and slim appearance.
Other side effects and risks of liposuction are quite similar to other invasive cosmetic surgeries. Person may suffer from adverse reactions to anesthesia like excessive bleeding, seroma formation, hematoma formation, infection, wound separation, blood clots, asymmetry, delayed healing, excessive scarring, or irregularities.
What is the Procedure of Liposuction?
Liposuction removes fat from the body using suction. It is an outpatient procedure and can be safely performed using local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, or general anesthesia depending on the nature of the procedure.
In this procedure, small, thin, blunt-tipped tubes (cannula) are inserted through small cuts in the skin. Plastic surgeon moves these tubes under the patient’s skin to target fat deposits and then suction them out. The entire procedure can take under an hour or up to 3 hours or longer, depending on the number of areas treated.
Before the operation:
Patients need to undergo some health tests to ensure that they are fit for surgery. Patient will be advised to:
Stop taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs for at least two weeks before the surgery.
Women - if undergoing an extensive operation, they may be asked to stop taking the contraceptive pill for a specific period before the operation.
Patients with anemia - will be asked to take iron supplements for a specific period before the operation.
Consent form - the patient will be asked to sign a consent form, which confirms that they are fully aware of the risks, benefits and possible alternatives to the procedure.
During the operation:
The surgeon will mark out lines on the patient's body, indicating where treatment will take place. Photos of the target area, and sometimes the patient's whole body may be taken. These pictures will be compared with the pictures of the same areas taken after the procedure.
There are a variety of techniques that facilitate liposuction. The improved techniques have made liposuction safer, easier, and less painful. These newer techniques include which are mostly used are
Tumescent liposuction describes a “wetting solution” with a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine and another medication in IV fluids, which is injected at that area of the body where the tube has to be injected, causing blood vessels to shrink down or constrict leading to numbness of that area. This technique allows liposuction to be performed under local anesthesia. It minimizes blood loss and reduces postsurgical pain and bleeding.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) This technique uses ultrasound (transmits energy through a special hand piece to liquefy the fat), that helps to loosen and melt fat, enabling a greater volume of fat to be removed. This is best for larger areas, dense fat and male patients.
VASER, a variation of UAL, is an ultrasonic cannula with several grooves that evenly disperse the energy, improving fat disruption and removal.
Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL), is a relatively new technology. The theory is that the laser will work like ultrasound to disrupt the fat cells and make fat removal more efficient and less traumatic. This technique uses low-energy waves to liquefy the fat, which is removed through a small cannula.
Traditional techniques are as follows:
Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL), the most traditional form of liposuction, draws fat out with a vacuum.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) is traditional SAL with the addition of a tool to increase the motion of the cannula, which speeds up fat removal.
Hospital stay & recovery
Possible overnight stay
At least 7-10 days recovery
Discharge same day
1-3 days recovery
LA or GA
Possible overnight stay
After preparing the area for the treatment, a small cut is made (sometimes several, depending on the size of the area), and a micro cannula is inserted into that cut. The micro cannula is attached to a special vacuum machine. The micro cannula first loosens and then sucks the fat out of the area.
Draining out excess fluid and blood –Once the operation is completed the surgeon may leave the incisions open so that fluid can drain from the body
Anesthetic - patients who had undergone general anesthesia usually spend the night in hospital. Whereas, those who had a local anesthetic may be able to leave hospital on the same day. Patients should not drive for at least 24 hours after receiving an anesthesia.
Support bandages – patients will be fitted with either an elasticated support corset or bandages for the targeted area after the operation. These will help in reducing inflammation and bruising. They should be worn for several weeks. It is important to follow the doctor's advice on keeping the area clean.
Antibiotics - patients may be given antibiotics immediately after the operation.
Painkillers - the doctor will most likely prescribe or recommend analgesics (painkillers) to relieve pain and inflammation.
Stitches - the patient will be given a follow-up appointment to have the stitches removed.
Bruising - there will be significant bruising in the targeted area. The amount of bruising is usually linked to how big the targeted area was. The bruising may go on for several weeks; in some cases for as long as six months.
Numbness - patients may experience numbness in the area where fat was removed. This should improve within six to eight weeks
After liposuction, swelling typically subsides within a few weeks. By this time, the treated area should look less bulky. Within several months, treated area is expected to have a leaner appearance.
Liposuction results are generally long lasting if weight is maintained by the person. Those who gain weight after the procedure may find that their fat distribution alters. For example, those who previously had fat accumulating in their hips might find that their buttocks become the new problem area
Liposuction Risks after the Surgery
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. A person will have to decide if the benefits will achieve their goals and if the risks and potential complications involved with liposuction are acceptable to them. Having more than one area treated, or having a very large area treated, may increase the risk of complications during or after the procedure.
Common side effects:
Temporary swelling, bruising, soreness, and numbness in and around the treated areas.
Irritation and minor scarring around the incision sites where the cannulas were inserted.
Baggy or rippling skin. The skin will usually tighten and retract after a few months. But in some people the skin may remain somewhat loose.
Less common side effects:
Permanent color changes in the skin.
Uneven skin surface over the treated area.
Damage to the nerves and skin. The heat generated during ultrasound-assisted liposuction may burn the skin or damage the tissue under the skin.
Death is very rare with liposuction, but it can happen. If a person is getting a large amount of fat removed, is obese, or have health problems, the risks go up. Possible complications include:
Excessive blood and fluid loss, leading to shock. But this is extremely unlikely.
Fat clots or blood clots, which may travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and become life-threatening.
Buildup of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). This is most likely to occur when a large volume of fluid is injected into the body.
Infection. In some cases, antibiotics may be given before or after liposuction to help prevent infection.
Toxic reaction to the injected solution (lidocaine toxicity), especially if large areas or many areas are treated at one time.
Thrombophlebitis - a blood clot forms in a vein, causing inflammation of that vein. This may affect liposuction patients, especially inside the knee and on the inside of the upper thigh (when these areas have been treated).
There may be an allergic reaction to medications or material used during surgery.
A puncture into the cavity containing the abdominal organs or damage to an organ such as the spleen.
Kidney or heart problems - as fluids are being injected and or suctioned, the change in the body's fluid levels may cause kidney or heart problems.
Life after Liposuction
After liposuction most of the patients realizes that the most difficult part of the liposuction process isn’t the surgery or even the weeks of post-op discomfort, it’s maintaining their new physique when the process is complete.
The new advanced liposuction techniques are designed to minimize swelling, trauma and discomfort, and when the procedure is performed by a qualified cosmetic surgeon, recovery from liposuction can be remarkably quick. Many patients return to work just a few days after their procedures, depending on the physical requirements of their jobs and the extent of their procedures.
The cosmetic surgeon may give a compression garment to wear for a few weeks following surgery. This helps to minimize swelling and encourage optimal skin contraction. With proper care, scars should fade significantly over the months following surgery; in many cases, scars are barely visible after a year or so.
FAQ’s on liposuction
Is Liposuction Dangerous?
Like any other invasive surgery, there are some risks involved with liposuction. However, by the use of the advanced technology and practices these risks becomes minimum. It is important for a person to familiarize themselves with the common side effects and treatment expectations of the procedure before going for it.
Who Gets Liposuction?
Liposuction is pretty common these days and can be done on a minor part of the body that has been affected by age, or in addition to other plastic surgery procedures. Some people get it to remove a bit of fat that has resisted diet and exercise, and some have benign fatty tumors that need to be removed.
What is the maximum amount of fat that can be removed?
Maximum amount of fat removed can be anything between 3 – 4 liters of fat per operation. Anything more than this would require multiple surgeries.
When is the optimal time for the surgery?
Being in the best shape, mentally and physically with skin that is in optimal condition. Along with that being close to the optimal weight is always best. The position of fat on the body is genetically determined. Recontouring areas that bulge with diet and exercise may not be possible.
Can one undergo Liposuction at an advanced age?
Liposuction can be performed at any age. Depending upon age and state of health, it may be necessary to obtain internal consent to perform the operation.
Does the fat return after the procedure?
In liposuction, not only is the fat removed but also the number of fat cells is greatly reduced. In contrast to a diet, the fat storage capacity in the liposuction zones is strongly reduced. In the event of recurring weight gain, the fat will not be distributed in the liposuction problem zones as before.
Will there be loose skin after the procedure?
The quality of skin before surgery determines how the skin tightens or shrinks during the year after healing. The more stretched the skin is before the procedure, the less it will tighten.
Will I have all the bulges smoothed out after the procedure?
Every effort is made to sculpt and contour the body. Not every area will have the same result. Once in a while a second sculpting or liposuction procedure will give added results.
Will smoking effect the healing process?
Yes- The effect of each cigarette lasts up to 12 hours on the blood vessels, and the smoke is toxic. Subsequently, smoking causes the skin to heal poorly and the complications associated with smoking are tremendous. Even second hand smoke during the weeks before and after surgery will adversely affect the results. Stopping is a must before and after the operation.
When can a person shower after the procedure?
The day after the surgery, the person can take a shower.
Where are the scars?
The scars are scattered around the areas to be suctioned. Where possible, they are placed in areas that are less visible. These scars take one year to finish healing. They are permanent but small.
Is it painful?
Usually, there is moderate discomfort for the first week that is relieved with pain medication. The second week after surgery the discomfort is minimal.
When can I resume activities?
It is advised to relax for the first 10 days. After almost 3 week a person can get back to their old self along with a new and improved body. It is advised not to exercise or increase the heart rate for 3 weeks from the time of surgery, and no vigorous lifting or exercise for 6 weeks from surgery. This will help to diminish the swelling and improve healing.
Is Liposuction a reasonable treatment for obesity?
Liposuction is not an ideal treatment of obesity. It is not effective, even as a last resort, for people who are unable to lose weight by dieting and exercise.
What can be expected if somebody gets pregnant after Liposuction?
Pregnancy does not permanently alter the results of liposuction. If a woman has liposuction and subsequently becomes pregnant, gains weight, gives birth and finally loses the excess weight of pregnancy, then her original liposuction improvements will return.
After how long the results are visible?
Most patients will see 90% of their ultimate liposuction results with in one to three months after surgery.
Will Liposuction help cellulite or sagging skin?
No. Cellulite or sagging skin usually does not improve to a significant degree after liposuction. Liposuction improves the shape of the body, but does not significantly improve the quality of skin texture