Liposuction is a type of body contouring procedure that removes excess fat to slim and reshape specific problem areas when diet and exercise haven’t helped. Liposuction targets localized concentrations of fat to remove them and sculpt a slimmer body shape.
What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a popular procedure to remove areas of stubborn, concentrated fat. Liposuction can be performed in many areas, such as the abdomen, arms, buttocks, neck, thighs, flanks or back. It’s also common to combine liposuction with additional plastic surgery procedures for more refined results.
There are several different liposuction techniques, but the tumescent liposuction approach is considered the gold standard in liposuction surgery.
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Who can have liposuction?
If you have persistent pockets of fat that cannot be removed with diet and exercise, you may be an ideal candidate for liposuction. You should be at a stable, healthy weight, as liposuction is not a method of weight loss.
Treatable areas with liposuction include, but are not limited to:
How does liposuction work?
During tumescent liposuction, areas of excess fat are injected with a large amount of anesthetic liquid where the liposuction will be performed. The liquid causes the compartments of fat to become swollen and firm or "tumesced." The expanded fat compartments allow the liposuction cannula to travel smoothly beneath the skin as the fat is removed.
Benefits and risks of liposuction
Tumescent liposuction can reduce postoperative bruising, swelling and pain compared to previous forms of liposuction. Because blood loss is minimized, using the tumescent liposuction technique reduces the chance that a blood transfusion will be needed.
As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved with liposuction. Possible complications vary depending on the extent of the procedure, but may include infection, poor cosmetic result, clotting or friction burns. You can reduce your risks by choosing a board-certified surgeon who has extensive experience with liposuction.
What happens during liposuction?
Liposuction takes between 45 minutes to 2 hours to perform, depending on the location and amount of fat to be removed, and may be performed in an outpatient center or a hospital.
For smaller procedures, you may receive a local anesthetic. Removing larger amounts of fat, however, will require general anesthetic. For many people getting liposuction, general anesthesia is the best option. For others, the anesthetic contained in the tumescent solution, combined with sedation, may provide sufficient comfort during the procedure. Or, if your doctor feels it's appropriate, the tumescent solution itself may serve as the sole means of anesthesia.
When beginning, your surgeon will make small incisions in specific areas for fat removal. The tumescent solution, which also contains an anesthetic, then infiltrates the fat, firming it and making it easier to remove. Once the solution has been administered, your surgeon will use a small tube called a cannula and insert it through the incisions to dislodge and suction out the fat. Any fluids lost during the procedure will be replenished with intravenous fluids.
You should expect to wear compression garments for up to 3 weeks following the procedure, as well as a drainage tube to collect any fluid buildup for the first 2 days. You may notice some numbness, burning and swelling at the treatment area. Any discomfort can usually be managed with medication.
Shortly after the procedure, you will be advised to walk. Light walking helps facilitate healing and promotes recovery. However, more strenuous activity should be avoided for several weeks.
You could see a noticeable difference almost immediately after getting liposuction. However, more improvement can be seen after 3 weeks, when most of the swelling has subsided. After about 3 months, any persistent mild swelling will disappear and your final contours will be visible.
Most people are usually pleased with the results of their liposuction. Although fat will not return to the treated area, you can still gain weight after liposuction and should maintain a healthy lifestyle for best results. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help you maintain your slimmer figure for many years.