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, and under the chin or face to improve their shape. But liposuction can also be done with other plastic surgeries, including facelifts, breast reductions, and tummy tucks. Liposuction won’t get rid of cellulite, so if you hoped you’d come out of surgery without any, you’re out of luck.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure, and with it comes risks. Pritish Kumar Halder explained that you need to be in good health before you get it. That means you must at least:
Be within 30% of your ideal weight
Have firm, elastic skin
Doctors don’t recommend the procedure if you have health problems with blood flow or have heart disease, diabetes, or a weak immune system.
Types of Liposuction
Tumescent liposuction– This is the most common type of liposuction. The surgeon injects a sterile solution — a mixture of salt water, which aids fat removal, an anesthetic (lidocaine) to relieve pain and a drug (epinephrine) that causes the blood vessels to constrict — into the area that’s being treated. The fluid mixture causes the affected area to swell and stiffen.
The surgeon then makes small cuts into your skin and inserts a thin tube called a cannula under your skin. The cannula is connected to a vacuum that suctions fat and fluids from your body. Your body fluid may be replenished through an intravenous (IV) line.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL)– This type of liposuction is sometimes used in conjunction with traditional liposuction. During UAL, the surgeon inserts a metal rod that emits ultrasonic energy under your skin. This ruptures the fat-cell walls and breaks down the fat for easier removal. A new generation of UAL called VASER-assisted liposuction uses a device that may improve skin contouring and reduce the chance of skin injuries.
Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL)– This technique uses high-intensity laser light to break down fat for removal. During LAL, the surgeon inserts a laser fiber through a small incision in the skin and emulsifies fat deposits. The fat is then removed via a cannula.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL)- This type of liposuction uses a cannula that moves in a rapid back-and-forth motion. This vibration allows the surgeon to pull out tough fat more easily and faster. PAL may sometimes cause less pain and swelling and can allow the surgeon to remove fat with more precision. Your surgeon may select this technique if large volumes of fat need to be removed or if you’ve had a previous liposuction procedure.
Steps of liposuction
Step 1 – Administering Anesthesia
Liposuction requires only local anesthesia. The surgeon may also choose tumescent liposuction technique where a local anesthetic. Such as, lidocaine is diluted and injected into the subcutaneous fat. The targeted tissue becomes firm and easy to remove. This technique reduces risk and prevents blood loss. However, patients who are allergic to lidocaine may not be suitable for this technique.
General anesthesia is provided only if the patient has substantial amount of fat deposit in an area or accumulation of fat in multiple areas. Local anesthesia with sedation is also used based on the patient’s profile.
Step 2 – Placing Incisions
After anesthesia is administered, the surgeon makes small inconspicuous incisions in the targeted area. The size of these incisions is very small, ranging between a quarter or third of an inch. The number of incisions required depends on the amount of fat deposit.
Step 3 – Removing excess fat
The surgeon inserts a thin tube called cannula into the incision and through a gentle back and forth motion dislodges the fat cells. The dislodged fat is sucked out through a surgical vacuum pump or syringe attached to the cannula. For more precision and less invasiveness, some surgeons use advanced techniques such as, laser, RF, or ultrasound.
Step 4 – Closing the wound
After the fat is sucked out, the surgeon closes the incisions with absorbable sutures and firmly bandages them. Drain tubes are placed at the incision sites to collect excess fluid. Patients are asked to wear compression garment for three to four weeks to avoid edema.
Risks and safety
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:
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.
Irregular contours or asymmetries.
Need for revision surgery.
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 fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts—usually more than five liters of fat—are suctioned.
You might not have to stay in the hospital depending on the type of surgery you had. But you should expect bruising, swelling, and soreness for at least a few weeks.Your surgeon may require you to wear a compression garment for 1 to 2 months after surgery to control swelling.You’ll probably also have to take some antibiotics to prevent infection. Most people can return to work within a few days and get back to normal activities within 2 weeks. But every person is different.
Ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what your recovery will be like, including:
What medications will I need to take?
Will I wear bandages?
Will I have stitches, and when will they be removed?
When can I exercise again?
Do I need to come back for a follow-up visit?