Liposuction, which is also known as lipoplasty, is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed. Often, localized fat deposits may develop in various regions of the body. These regions usually persist in spite of proper diet and exercise, which contributes to the disproportionate appearance of the figure.
Liposuction works by removing excess fat tissue, which reshapes body contours and creates a slimmer appearance. Liposuction can be performed alone, but can also be performed with other procedures such as the tummy tuck. Liposuction is not an effective treatment for cellulite or obesity. Individuals who consider liposuction should be healthy and relatively fit, have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone, and be within 30% of their ideal weight.
Surgery Preparation and Incision
Liposuction procedures may last as little as one hour or as long as five hours depending on the extent of the procedure and the technique that is used.
Prior to the start of your liposuction procedure, the treatment area will be cleansed and an anesthetic will be administered. Depending on the complexity of the procedure and the amount of fat that is removed, general anesthesia or local anesthesia in conjunction with IV sedation may be used.
Tumescent Fluid Injection
While there are several different liposuction techniques, the tumescent technique is the most common type of liposuction procedure. Prior to removing fat, tumescent fluid is injected into the treatment area through a large hollow device known as the cannula. This solution, which is composed of saline solution, lidocaine, and epinephrine, helps to numb the treatment area, control blood loss, and facilitate fat removal.
The surgeon will insert the liposuction cannula into the fat layer beneath your skin. Using a forward and backward motion, the surgeon will use the cannula to loosen and break apart the fat tissue in the area. A suction device, such as a surgical vacuum that has been attached to the opposite end of the cannula, is used to remove the fat. In some instances, the fat may be removed manually using a syringe that has been attached to the cannula. Following the procedure, the incisions will likely be closed with stitches, although some incisions are so small that they can heal without stitches.
You may experience some pain, swelling, and bruising following the procedure. Your physician may suggest that you wear a compression garment for two to six weeks, which will be an important part of your recovery process. A compression garment is tight-fitting, and holds the tissues together, while providing comfort and support as you heal. The compression garment controls swelling by preventing fluid build up in the treatment area, and also helps the skin conform to the new contours of the body.
You will likely be able to return to work in a few days and resume normal activity in approximately one to two weeks. You may be able to notice an improvement in your appearance very soon after surgery. An even greater improvement should be noticeable within four to six weeks following the procedure, as the swelling subsides. The final results will most likely be noticeable in approximately three months.
Although fat cells are permanently removed from the treatment area during the procedure, it is important to realize that liposuction does not prevent additional weight gain. In order to maintain the results from your procedure, it is important to follow a healthy diet and exercise routine.