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.