Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty or body contouring.
Liposuction, is a procedure that eliminates areas of unwanted fat from the buttocks, hips, saddlebags, love handles, thighs, calves, ankles, breasts, arms, neck and back. During the operation, stubborn pockets of fat are removed from the body using a variety of suction tools. Liposuction is commonly combined with other surgical procedures, to help sculpt the body into the desired shape.
The amount of fat that can be safely removed will be determined by a number of factors. You will be able to make the final decision with your surgeon during your consultation. If your surgeon removes too much fat from an area, it can leave it looking uneven or unbalanced. This is most commonly seen as unusual lumps or indentations in the skin. Generally speaking, the more fat is removed, the higher the surgical risk.
The cost of liposuction varies, depending on the surgeon you opt for. Sometimes, the geographic location the patient is in will impact the cost of the treatment.
How is it performed?
During the operation, your surgeon will make small incisions in the treatment area, through which some small thin tubes (known as cannulas) will be inserted. These tubes are then moved around beneath the skin, sucking out the fatty deposits located beneath them. There are a great deal of methods on the market today for those considering liposuction. Below we will briefly explain each. You and your surgeon should decide on a treatment that is best for you.
- Tumescent liposuction – If your surgeon opts for tumescent liposuction, a local anesthetic will be injected into the area, which causes the local blood vessels to shrink. This allows your surgeon to perform the procedure with the patient under a local anesthesia, which reduces the risk to the patient and leads to a faster recovery.
- Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) – Suction-assisted liposuction is considered the ‘traditional’ liposuction technique, which uses a vacuum to suck fat out of the body.
- Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) – Power-assisted liposuction is very similar to the traditional suction-assisted liposuction, except with the addition of a special tool that speeds up the removal of fat, by increasing the movement of the cannula.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) – Ultrasound-assisted liposuction uses ultrasound energy transmitted to help melt and loosen fat so that more can be removed at one time. Your surgeon will probably opt for this method if there is a large area to target, if the fat is particularly dense or the patient is male.
- VASER – This is almost exactly the same technology used in ultrasound-assisted liposuction. VASER has a special grooved ultrasonic cannula designed disperse energy more evenly, improving the overall removal of fat.
- Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL) – This ismore commonly known under brand names such as Smartlipo or Slimlipo and is the newest technology to enter the arena. In a similar fashion to UAL, laser-assisted devices use varying wavelengths of laser light to break down fat cells, instead of ultrasound waves, which helps make fat removal more efficient and less damaging.
- SAFELipo – SAFELipo is a technique developed by a member of the AmericanSociety for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, which involves a 3-step process of separation, aspiration and fat equalization:
- Separation – this phase emulsifies, loosens and separates unwanted fat cells from other tissues without heat, meaning that considerably less blood vessels, skin and tissue is harmed.
- Aspiration – during this stage, gentle suction is used to remove the fat cells without damaging the underlying skin and nerve structures.
- Fat Equalization – This stage smoothes out any remaining fat layers, so that a uniform layer of fat remains, preventing the forming of future deformities.
SafeLipo was originally developed to help surgeons negate the challenges of revision liposuction. It removes a significant amount of fatty cells, without increasing the chances of undesirable skin damage or deformities. Make sure that you continue to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle, with a balanced diet and regular exercise, in order to prolong your liposuction results.
What will my liposuction incisions and scars look like?
The scars from liposuction are usually very small, as the incisions your surgeon makes are tiny. The amount of scarring you have will also depend on the skill of the surgeon. Due to their size, liposuction scars will fade over time until they are practically invisible. If large cannulas are used to perform the liposuction, or if the patient has darkly pigmented skin, then there is a greater chance the scars will be visible. Liposuction can cause two types of marking on the skin.
Is it right for me?
It is important to remember that liposuction alone is not capable of tightening or removing loose skin or cellulite. You can discuss other procedures to tackle these problems with your cosmetic surgeon. As long as you are a healthy individual, with realistic expectations about the surgical outcomes, then you will be a good candidate for liposuction. An ideal patient has maintained a steady, healthy weight for several months, has some pockets of stubborn fat, but good skin elasticity.
What result can I expect?
Liposuction removes the fat cells completely and these do not grow back, so it is considered a permanent treatment. However, your body will still be affected by things like weight gain, aging, pregnancy or other lifestyle choices. This can cause the results of your liposuction to fade. Maintain healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle if you want to maintain your results. If you continue to eat unhealthily after your liposuction surgery, then your body will simply store that fat that cannot be kept in the removed cells in other places. When this happens, there is no telling where or how your body will choose to deposit this fat. Your surgeon will never remove all the fatty cells in an area, so the remaining cells can also grow bigger to store more fat. Make sure you return to your cosmetic surgeon’s office for regular check-ups, or if you notice any change to the treatment area. Contact your surgeon immediately if you have any questions or concerns.
- Will make your clothes fit better and your body appear slimmer.
- Uses small incisions which result in smaller scars than open body contouring procedures.
- Can be done under sedation with less risks and shorter operating times than similar open body contouring procedures.
- Results may be affected by weight gain, aging and pregnancy.
- Liposuction is not meant to improve the look of cellulite or loose skin.
- You may need to lose weight to be a better candidate for liposuction.
- You may require surgery to remove excess skin created during the procedure
You may find you drain fluid from the wounds where cannulas were inserted, and your doctor may have inserted a drain to help control this. You will likely be told to wear a specific type of compression garment for up to several weeks after the procedure. You may need to purchase this, although some surgeons will provide this. You will probably experience some bruising, swelling, redness and pain once your anaesthesia wears off. If you are unsure if this is normal, contact your surgeon immediately to check they are not signs of a complication.
It is vital that you follow all patient care instructions given to you by your aesthetic physician. Your surgeon will also provide detailed instructions about the symptoms of a normal recovery, and what to look out for any signs of complications. Remember that everyone’s body is different and individuals will find their recovery process unique to them.
The first two weeks
Make sure you get lots of quiet rest in the first days after your liposuction, elevating the operated area when possible. You will experience some bruising, redness and swelling after your liposuction treatment, but remember you should not take anti-inflammatory medications or aspirinThis will get worse over the first few hours, before gradually dissipating over the following weeks. Any sutures or stitches your surgeon has placed will be removed about a week after surgery. To prevent your wounds re-opening and bleeding, you should refrain from smoking or drinking alcohol for the first week, or while you are taking medications for pain. Avoid any exercise that could put a strain on your body, such as bending, straining, or lifting, especially during the early stages of recovery. Most people find they can return to their normal level of activity within the first two weeks and return to work a matter of days after surgery. Any discomfort you experience after liposuction is likely to be more soreness and stiffness than acute pain.
Weeks two to six
To prevent your legs swelling and blood clots forming, you should try to walk as soon as possible after the procedure, as long as this is done carefully. You will not be able to undertake strenuous exercise for a couple of months after your liposuction. To reduce the chances of swelling, you should wait at least six weeks before exposing the treated area to direct heat or sunlight. Your surgeon will advise you to wear your compression garment up to six weeks after your operation, so that any swelling can be controlled and to guide the skin into its new shape.
Long term recovery
You should allow for several months before you can get an accurate picture of the results, as recovery from liposuction can be fairly slow, you will need this time for your wound to completely heal. The scars from the cuts your surgeon made will gradually fade over several months until they are nearly invisible. Some patients may find that for up to 9 months after surgery, they experience the return of minor swelling after performing heavy activities. It is essential that you keep your check up appointments with your doctor. These will continue for several months at prescribed intervals.
Limits & Risks
Fortunately, significant complications from liposuction surgery are infrequent. Your specific risks will be discussed during your consultation. All surgical procedures have some degree of risk.
Some potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anaesthesia
- Hematoma or seroma (an accumulation of blood or fluid under the skin that may require removal)
- Infection and bleeding
- Changes in sensation
- Allergic reactions
- Damage to underlying structures
- Unsatisfactory results that may necessitate additional procedures
- Blood clots in your legs or lungs
Other risks specific to liposuction are outlined below: Indentations contour irregularities. You can minimize the risk to you by carefully following the instructions and advice of your plastic surgeon before and after your cosmetic surgery procedure.