Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes deposits of excess fat from specific areas of the body, face or neck. Liposuction can be used to slim the hips and thighs, flatten the abdomen, shape the calves and ankles or eliminate a double chin. Patients can achieve improvement in their body contour through the use of liposuction or lipoplasty. In liposuction a surgeon will utilize hollow steel tubes passed beneath the skin to suction areas of excessive fatty tissue. Liposuction is a technique that can be used in most areas of the body where there is fatty tissue. As in any sculpting process, the final result depends mostly on what tissue is left behind rather than what is removed. By removing fatty tissue the surgeon can often restore more youthful contours to the patient. In some cases, such as large ankles, a patient may even be able to achieve a result that they have never experienced before.
There are several techniques that are used in liposuction or lipoplasty. In most of these techniques a wetting solution is first applied to the areas to be suctioned in order to decrease bruising, bleeding, and pain. Suction of the area is then performed and may be enhanced with the use of an ultrasonic device applied either internally or externally and occasionally a power-assist device. Multiple areas can be treated during a single procedure. Once the procedure has been completed, the patient is placed into a custom compression garment that they will wear, removing only to bathe, for approximately two to four weeks depending on the amount of areas treated. Most patients will take anywhere from five days to a week off for this procedure. With extensive amount of liposuction, additional time up to two weeks may be required. Light activities will be resumed during this time, although light exercise would not be advised until approximately three weeks. Patients do not usually return to more aggressive forms of exercise for at least five to six weeks.
The patient will note an initial improvement when they first remove their garment to bathe. In addition continued improved will be realized as the swelling subsides gradually. Most patients will realize at least 80% of their result by six weeks following the surgery. Patients are encouraged to maintain the result through sensible diet and exercise habits.
Dr. Person knows that all patients are different, both in their body shapes and in what they wish to achieve with liposuction. We take as much time as necessary during every pre-operative consultation to learn what each patient wants to liposuction to do for them, and to decide which technique is best. In this way, every one of our patients enjoys completely customized treatment designed with his or her specific goals in mind.
The liposuction procedure begins with the injection of a solution composed of saline (salt water), a local anesthetic called lidocaine, and a small amount of adrenaline to decrease bruising and bleeding. This is known as either the tumescent or super-wet technique, depending on the ratio of the fluid to the fatty tissue being removed.
Once this solution has been introduced into the area planned for liposuction treatment, the doctor proceeds with one of two different methods of liposuction currently approved by plastic surgeons: suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL) or ultrasonic-assisted lipectomy (UAL).
In both methods, a tiny incision is made in as inconspicuous a place as possible. In SAL, a cannula (small tube) is inserted and moved back and forth beneath the skin, breaking up the fat layer and suctioning it out. In UAL, ultrasonic energy is used to liquefy the fat before it is suctioned out with a cannula.
The liposuction procedure may last from one to five hours, depending on the amount of fat being removed. The doctor will use either local anesthesia or general anesthesia, again depending on the size of the area(s) being treated as well as several other factors. We will discuss which method is best for you during your pre-operative consultation.
After liposuction surgery, drainage tubes, compression garments and antibiotics may be needed to facilitate the healing process. Patients are encouraged to walk as soon as they are able, and many return to work within a few days. Strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month.
Results of Liposuction
Results are visible immediately, and improvement often continues as swelling subsides during the first three months.
We make sure that scars from the liposuction cannula insertion point are small and inconspicuous.
Risks of Liposuction
Risks are uncommon when the liposuction is performed by a qualified surgeon. Nevertheless, they do occur, and may include the following:
- Delays in healing
- Fat clots or blood clots
- Fluid accumulation
- Perforation injury
- Lidocaine toxicity
- Unfavorable drug or anesthesia reactions
Irregularities in appearance are possible, such as asymmetric or "baggy" skin, numbness and pigmentation changes.