Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the United States and is helpful in removing fat from various parts of the body with the aid of suction. Some of the other popular names for this procedure include lipoplasty, liposculpture, and lipectomy. Liposuction is most commonly used for areas like the abdomen, buttocks, upper arms, back, calves, neck, and thighs.
During the liposuction procedure, thin, small tubes called ‘cannula’ are inserted into the targeted areas through tiny skin incisions. These tubes are utilized for suctioning out the fat deposits from specific body parts.
A number of improved liposuction techniques have evolved in the last few years. Liposuction equipment has also recently undergone significant modifications. Even then, these new tools and equipment are based on the traditional concept of a thin metal tube inserted in the targeted area with a vacuum pump suctioning out the undesirable fat (also called ‘suction-assisted liposuction’).
You may read about the addition of numerous adjuncts to the fundamental construct for improved results. For instance, ultrasound is a technology used for breaking away the fat and laser-assisted liposuction helps in melting fat.
These techniques have rendered the procedure easier, safer and minimally painful. One of the most popular new liposuction techniques is ‘Tumescent Liposuction’.
In tumescent liposuction, the patient is given local anesthetic for numbing the body part that needs tube insertion. This is followed by the injection of a good quantity of anesthesia containing epinephrine and lidocaine into the targeted fatty tissue prior to traditional liposuction. General anesthesia is usually not required in tumescent liposuction.
‘Tumescent’ is a term used to indicate anything which is firm and swollen. In tumescent liposuction, high amounts of an extremely dilute solution containing local anesthesia get injected into the fatty tissues beneath your skin. This causes the selected area to become firm and swollen.
The reason why general anesthesia is not needed in tumescent liposuction is that lidocaine present in the local anesthesia offers complete numbness. Also, the other component of the administered local anesthesia- epinephrine-gives excellent localized vasoconstriction. This means that there is almost no surgical bleeding experienced in a tumescent liposuction procedure.
Tumescent liposuction eliminates the risk of excess surgical bleeding and general anesthesia, the two most common risks associated with traditional techniques of liposuction.
Reduced bruising with tumescent liposuction
One of the biggest advantages of tumescent liposuction (besides minimal surgical bleeding) is that there is very less bruising after the surgery. Below are the two main reasons for the reduced bruising in tumescent liposuction:
Since there is minimal loss of blood during the surgery, virtually no blood remains underneath the skin after tumescent liposuction. Hence, there is very little bruising.
Tumescent liposuction involves significant amounts of anesthetic solution which also contains some blood (post-operative procedure).
In addition to the above, there are a few other reasons for the dramatically less bruising in tumescent liposuction. For instance, the incisions made during the surgery are extremely tiny (around 1.5 mm) and require no stitches. Hence, the swelling and bruising in tumescent liposuction is minimal and rate of recovery is quite fast.
Safety of the liposuction procedure
Many patients are unsure about the safety aspects of liposuction and ask about the same during their initial consultation with the cosmetic surgeon. In reality, liposuction is an absolutely safe procedure and has already been performed on several million candidates all over the world. Of course, it is critical to choose an experienced and well-trained cosmetic surgeon who is competent in the surgical technique and has the knowledge and skill for accurate evaluation and judgment.
It is advisable to select an American Board of Plastic Surgery certified plastic surgeon for your liposuction. This will ensure that your surgeon has undergone comprehensive training to perform the surgery in a safe and effective manner.
The prevention of complications needs to be a priority for the patient as well as the liposuction surgeon. It is possible for surgeons to minimize all risks associated with liposuction procedures by selecting the right patients. A surgeon should avoid performing liposuction on any patient who
- Has unrealistic expectations out of the surgery
- Has a complicated history of medical problems
- A patient can also take some steps to minimize risks:
- Even if you’re short on time, avoid attempting several unrelated surgeries in conjunction with liposuction
- Do not be tempted to get excessive amounts of fat removal in one day alone.
- General anesthesia, if administered during liposuction, is safe if:
- There is a certified anesthesiologist administering the general anesthesia
- The performance of liposuction is done independently and not in combination with any other unrelated cosmetic surgery
- Excessive liposuction is checked
Candidates for liposuction
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery informs that the ideal candidates for a liposuction procedure are those who have isolated pockets of fat in their body. These fat deposits have certain characteristic features:
- They appear to be disproportionate in relation to the adjacent areas
- They do not respond to exercise and diet regimes
Some of the common concern areas are “saddle bags” and “love handles”. It is important to understand that liposuction is designed for removing only fat from the body and has no impact on the skin. Hence, patients must have minimal extra skin and a fine skin tone in order to undergo the liposuction procedure.
To put it simply, liposuction works well for patients who have a non-fluctuating body weight and are only looking to eliminate undesirable fat deposits accumulated in specific body parts. Some people falsely assume that liposuction is a general weight-loss technique. Liposuction will have no effect on cellulite, stretch marks or dimples. It eliminates fat cells from the body and thereby helps in enhancing the overall body contour.
Precautions before liposuction
Patients are guided to take certain precautions prior to the liposuction procedure. These include undergoing a few health examinations to ensure overall fitness for the surgery. Your surgeon may ask you to take note of the following:
- Stop consuming aspirin as well as other anti-inflammatory medications for a minimum of two weeks before the surgery
- Iron supplements may be recommended for anemic patients
- Women might need to stop the intake of a contraceptive pill
The American Board of Plastic Surgery certified cosmetic surgeons undergo an extensive training procedure, involving examinations and recertification requirements, in order to avoid all kinds of risks and complications and render liposuction a safe procedure.
It is critical for members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery as well as that of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons to receive certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery in order to qualify for membership. Patient safety is primary theme underlying the educational initiatives of both societies.
Liposuction: permanent or temporary solution for fat loss?
In order to understand whether liposuction is a temporary or a permanent fat loss solution, let’s assume that you have a specific count of fat cells since birth. The procedure of liposuction is helpful in removing fat cells accumulated in the targeted areas permanently. While this is one of the biggest advantages of the liposuction technique, there are a few basic precautions and lifestyle changes that a patient needs to make in order to enjoy the results of the surgery for an extended period of time. For instance, you need to be involved in some kind of physical activity that helps you burn more calories than consumed. If additional calories are consumed (i.e. more than the calories burnt), then those calories will likely be stored in the body as fat.
Hence you can maintain the results of your liposuction procedure be keeping a check on your calorie count through a disciplined exercise and diet regime. Regardless of whether a person has undergone liposuction or not, extra calories will always be stored in the body as fat.
Liposuction is a procedure that is typically performed on an outpatient basis and in a well-equipped surgeon’s office, hospital or surgery center. Once the procedure is completed, the clinician will firmly wrap the treated body area in order to minimize bruising, pain and swelling.
The typical recovery aid in liposuction includes tape, elastic bandages, a customized girdle (or well-fitted garment) and a support hose, depending on the body part that was treated. It might be necessary for a patient to adorn the wrap or compression garment for about three to four weeks. The swelling and/or bruising will start to reduce greatly after the initial seven to ten days.
There may be drainage of fluid from the areas where incisions have been made for a few days. Majority of the patients report that they could get up and walk around almost immediately after the completion of the treatment (and when the effects of sedation and/or anesthesia wear off).