What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure that removes fat that you can’t seem to get rid of through diet and exercise.
A plastic or dermatologic surgeon usually does the procedure on your hips, belly, thighs, buttocks, back, arms, or face to improve their shape. But liposuction can also be done with other plastic surgeries, including facelifts, breast reductions, and tummy tucks.
What are the risks of liposuction?
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of liposuction are acceptable.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Liposuction risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Change in skin sensation that may persist
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs, and abdominal organs
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fluid accumulation
- Irregular contours or asymmetries
- Irregular pigmentation
- Need for revision surgery
- Persistent swelling
- Poor wound healing
- Rippling or loose skin, worsening of cellulite
- Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound with the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty technique
These risks and others will be thoroughly discussed before your consent. It is vital that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
What are the benefits of Liposuction?
Liposuction is typically done for cosmetic purposes, but it is sometimes used to treat certain conditions.
- Gynecomastia: Sometimes, fat accumulates under a man’s bosoms.
- Lipodystrophy syndrome: Fat gains in one part of the body and is lost in another. Liposuction can improve the patient’s appearance by providing a more natural-looking body fat distribution.
- Extreme weight loss after obesity: A person with morbid obesity who loses at least 40 percent of their BMI may need treatment to remove excess skin and other irregularities.
- Lymphedema: A chronic, or long-term, a condition in which excess fluid known as lymph collects in tissues, causing edema, or swelling. The edema usually occurs in the arms or legs. Liposuction is sometimes used to reduce swelling, discomfort, and pain.
- Lipomas: These are benign, fatty tumors.
Is Liposuction Painful?
Patients may receive a general anesthetic before the procedure, which can last for 1 to 4 hours.
An epidural may be used for treatments on the lower body. In this case, the anesthetic is injected into the epidural space surrounding the dura, or fluid-filled sac, around the spine. This partially numbs the abdomen and legs.
A local anesthetic might be used when liposuction is done in tiny areas.
If the patient requires only local anesthesia, they might be asked to stand up during the procedure to ensure proper fat removal.
There are several liposuction techniques.
Tumescent liposuction: Several liters of a saline solution with a local anesthetic (lidocaine) and a vessel-constrictor (epinephrine) are pumped below the skin in the area that is to be suctioned. The fat is suctioned or sucked out through small suction tubes. This is the most popular form of liposuction.
Dry liposuction: No fluid is injected before the fat is removed. This method is seldom used today. There is a higher risk of bruising and bleeding.
Laser-Assisted Lipolysis (LAL): Also understood as laser-guided lipo, this procedure requires the use of tumescent fluid. It is a less invasive and bloody procedure than the conventional liposuction method for removing fat. A small tube is injected through a small incision to deliver laser energy and heat into the fat that is under the skin.
After the operation, the surgeon may leave the incisions open so that excess fluid and blood can drain from the body.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAS): Also known as powered liposuction, PAS uses a specialized cannula with a mechanized system that rapidly moves back-and-forth, allowing the surgeon to pull out fat more efficiently.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): Also known as ultrasonic liposuction, the cannula is energized with ultrasound. This makes the fat melt away on contact. The ultrasound vibrations burst the walls of the fat cells. This emulsifies, or liquified, the fat, making it easier to suction out. This method is suitable for fibrous areas, such as the male breast, back, and in areas where liposuction has been done before.
After ultrasonic liposuction, suction-assisted liposuction is done to remove the liquefied fat.