Liposuction at a glance
- Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty (“fat modeling”), uses suction to extract concentrated fat deposits in the body to improve contour and reduce bulk.
- People generally choose liposuction to remove body fat from one or more particular areas.
- Surgeons can perform liposuction in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures, such as tummy tucks or breast reductions.
- Typically an outpatient procedure, liposuction’s average recovery time is shorter compared with other cosmetic procedures.
What is liposuction?
Patients unsatisfied with areas of fat in particular body parts may elect to undergo a lipoplasty. Commonly known as liposuction or body contouring, the procedure removes fat repositories that exercise or diet cannot reduce. The surgeon uses a thin tube known as a cannula to extract the fat and tissue.
Liposuction commonly targets the following body areas:
- Waist (love handles)
- Upper arms
The type of anesthesia used, as well as the location of the procedure, varies according to doctor/patient preferences. Both general and IV sedation anesthesia are available. Once administered, the Dr. Lee makes small incisions in the areas receiving liposuction.
The surgeon loosens up and liquefies the fat before he suctions it out of the body. Dr. Lee achieves this by applying one of three techniques.
- Tumescent liposuction involves an injection of saline, and the anesthetics lidocaine and epinephrine into fatty areas prior to fat retrieval. The solution allows blood vessels to contract, which makes fat removal easier, reduces blood loss, and mitigates pain throughout the procedure.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction uses ultrasonic energy waves to liquefy fat.
- Laser-assisted liposuction (SmartLipo) uses low energy laser waves delivered through a laser fiber inserted through small incisions to soften the fat tissue.
Once the surgeon loosens the fat, he uses the cannula to retrieve and dispose of the tissue then sutures the incision points.
Recovering From Liposuction
Liposuction recovery is typically much easier and shorter than other cosmetic procedures. There will be some general tenderness, swelling and bruising for about three weeks. Patients usually return to work after a few days and fully resume their normal activities in approximately two weeks.
Some patients may need to wear a compressive garment to control swelling that may last one to two months. In most cases, the more fat removed, the longer the recovery period. Performing multiple cosmetic procedures along with liposuction may increase healing time.
Risks and Considerations of Liposuction
Liposuction is not a lasting weight loss solution nor is it a cure for obesity. Liposuction will not prevent future weight gain, and results last as long as the patient maintains his or her current weight.
People who are at a relatively healthy weight but have localized fat deposits that are unresponsive to diet and exercise will have better results, recovery, and overall reaction to liposuction. Obese individuals are not ideal liposuction candidates because the liposuction requires longer and more extensive fat removal.
Any surgery comes with inherent risk. Rare liposuction complications include skin discoloration, uneven contours and surgical infection. Overly long procedures, such as excessive fat removal, will increase the chance of surgical and healing complications.
Unexpected reaction to anesthesia and infection is, as with any surgery, also possible.