Until recent years, the most frequently performed cosmetic procedure in North America has been liposuction. Technically know as lipoplasty (fat modeling) or suction lipectomy (suction assisted fat removal) is a surgical form of body contouring. This procedure removes fat from different areas of the body. In many cases the selected areas can range from the abdomen, thighs, and buttocks and even the backs of arms. The desired outcome is a smoother, tighter, and more shapely body.
Although there are different approaches to liposuction, the fat is usually removed via a small hollow tube attached to a suction device. Tumescent liposuction is widely considered as the safest and most effective form of treatment. Performed under local anesthesia, a solution containing lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine (minimizes bleeding) is injected into fatty tissue which makes the fat expand and become firmer. A tube (called the cannula) is then inserted into the body and the fat is essentially vacuumed out. This method reduces the risks of traditional liposuction and minimizes pain, bruising and swelling after the procedure.
Another option uses ultrasound energy to emulsify or liquefy the fat before being removed. This application is more suited to areas where the fat is firmer, or when removing large amounts of fat. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction is a slightly lengthier process than tumescent liposuction.
Post operation, the treated area is firmly wrapped with a compression garment that should be worn for two to four weeks. Recovery for liposuction is different than recovery from other cosmetic procedures because treated areas differ greatly. In some cases, swelling can subside in a few short weeks, and in others may last as long as two months. Final results are apparent anywhere from one to six months after the surgery.
Important – It is not a weight loss method. Liposuction is not a low effort alternative to a healthy lifestyle including exercise and diet.
Results Without Liposuction
Q: Can exercise alone attain desirable results with liposuction?
A: Regular exercise and a healthy diet are recommended to all individuals. With a devote and proper exercise routine, desirable results can usually be achieved without any fat modeling surgery.
Good Liposuction Candidates
Q: Who is a good candidate for liposuction?
A: An individual who has already tried diet and exercise but has problem areas of excess fat in specific areas. These areas can include, but are not limited to; hips and buttocks, abdomen, thighs, and waist.
Q: How soon are the results noticeable after liposuction?
A: Most people notice a substantial improvement in their body contour within a day. However, the anesthetic injected to "numb" the sculpted area takes about two days to drain. This post-operative swelling can briefly obscure the results. By six weeks, 90% of the healing and remodeling of the fat compartment and contraction of the skin over this area has occurred. Further improvement can continue for up to 6 months following the procedure.
Q: Will the fat return after a liposuction?
A: If the patient gains weight following the surgery, the body will distribute the fat in different areas. The treated areas will no longer have the same capacity to store additional fat due to the removal of a large portion of the fat cells. It is possible for the body to create new fat cells, but usually only when significant amounts of fat are gained. Because liposuction is not a reliable method of weight loss, patients should expect to maintain their results through diet and regular exercise.
Q: What happens to the excess skin?
A: Skin is considered to be a dynamic organ, which has elasticity and is able to shrink and re-conform to the new body contour. This can be seen in everyday life, such as when a woman becomes pregnant. Although rarely necessary, when the skin has lost its elasticity, having excess skin removed is an option.
Q: How quickly will I recover from liposuction?
A: Because liposuction is a minimally invasive surgery, the recovery is much easier to withstand and quicker than most other surgeries. Within 24 hours following the procedure, patients are able to care for themselves and resume normal activities. As with all surgical procedures, it is recommended to rest as long as possible. The longer you can stay down… the less bruising you will have. Discomfort should be at a minimum after the four days. Recovery will also depend on the individual and the amount of fat removed.
Scars After Liposuction
Q: Will I have scars from liposuction?
A: Some scarring will be evident immediately following the procedure; however, incisions are made in areas that are better concealed or within creases of the skin. The incisions made to insert the cannula are quite small resulting in modest scarring.
Q: Why is it important to wear a compression garment following the surgery?
A: This garment is intended to encourage proper drainage of incisions. It should be worn 24 hours a day for 3 to 6 days. Absorbent pads will also be worn to soak up blood and remaining anesthetic fluids. These pads are worn for 24 hours after all drainage has stopped.
Pregnancy And Liposuction
Q: If I get pregnant will I lose the effects of liposuction?
A: For women who become pregnant after liposuction, once all of the weight from the pregnancy has been lost, your body should return to the state it was in. It is important to remember that if you are still carrying weight, it will show in other areas of the body.