What is Liposuction?
Liposuction, often referred to as “lipo” by patients, slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits and improving your body contours and proportion.
Liposuction techniques may be used to reduce localized fat deposits of the:
- Hips and buttocks
- Abdomen and waist
- Upper arms
- Inner knee
- Chest area
- Cheeks, chin and neck
- Calves and ankles
Liposuction can be performed alone or along with other plastic surgery procedures, such as a facelift, breast reduction or a tummy tuck.
Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise.
It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite – the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips, and buttocks – or loose saggy skin.
Who is it for?
The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider liposuction:
- You have a minimal amount of excess skin and good skin elasticity. Loss of skin elasticity with age can compromise liposuction results, but if your skin maintains elasticity, age alone is not a contraindication for liposuction surgery.
- You have localized deposits of fat in your abdomen, arms, thighs and/or neck, which may be the result of heredity and do not disappear with exercise and diet.
- You are physically fit, no more than 20 pounds overweight, and your weight is stable. If you are planning to lose a significant amount of weight or even gain weight (for example, due to pregnancy), this is not the time to undergo liposuction.
- Keep in mind that liposuction does not remove cellulite and cannot tighten loose skin. Your surgeon will be able to recommend other procedures to improve those conditions.
In preparing for liposuction surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation.
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications.
- Stop smoking.
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.
Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
What to expect during surgery
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications will be administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions.
First, diluted local anesthesia is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. Then a thin hollow tube, or cannula, is inserted through the incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. The dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.
Step 3 – See the results
Your improved body contour will be apparent once the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside.
The incisions where the doctor inserted the cannula may be leaky or drain fluids for several days. In some cases, the doctor may insert a drainage tube to drain fluid away from the wound.
You will wear special tight garments to keep your skin compressed. Your doctor will tell you how long to wear these, usually for weeks. Some doctors provide these garments but others will tell you where to purchase them before your surgery.
When the anesthesia wears off, you may have some pain. If the pain is extreme or long-lasting, contact your physician. You will also have some redness and swelling after the surgery. In some cases, the swelling will remain for weeks or even months. Contact your surgeon to find out if your pain, redness and swelling is normal or a sign of a problem.
Risks of Liposuction
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 of the potential complications of all surgeries are:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- 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
- Contour irregularities