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What exactly is the role of liposuction?
While liposuction is not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle, it can make you look and feel better. During the procedure, your surgeon uses a specially-designed surgical instrument known as a cannula to break up and remove excess pockets of fat. The procedure requires only small incisions and, with modern techniques, swelling and bruising during the recovery period can be minimized.
It is important for plastic surgery patients to remember that this procedure is meant for body contouring and is not a treatment for obesity. You need to be close to your ideal body weight to be an ideal candidate. Beyond your weight, it is critical to have the right goals – contouring and reshaping rather than seeing a smaller number on the weighing machine.
What are the types of liposuction?
Tumescent liposuction: a local anesthetic is used to numb the area of your body where the tube will be inserted. Next, a large amount of an anesthetic solution containing lidocaine and epinephrine is injected into the fatty tissue before traditional liposuction is done. Tumescent liposuction may require general anesthesia (which makes you sleep through the procedure) if a large area is being treated.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction: this technique uses ultrasound to liquify the fat, which makes it easier to remove. This technique may be particularly helpful in removing fat from the upper abdomen, sides, and back.
Power-assisted liposuction: this technique uses mechanically moving cannulas to hasten the procedure.
What to expect after liposuction?
After the procedure, the area of the body that was treated is firmly wrapped to help reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. Elastic bandages and tape or another type of firm-fitting garment may be used, depending on which part of the body was treated. You may have to wear the compression garment or wrap for 3 to 4 weeks. Expect bruising and swelling for at least the first 7 to 10 days.
Fluid may drain from the incision sites for several days. You may be given antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.
Most people are able to get up and move around as soon as the treatment is finished and after the effects of the anesthesia and any sedation have worn off. You can return to your normal activities as soon as you feel comfortable, although this may take several days. Most people can return to work within a few days. Recovery may take longer if large areas were treated.
How effective is liposuction?
Liposuction is usually very effective at removing fat deposits in most areas. But if you regain weight after having liposuction, the fatty bulges that were removed are likely to appear in a different place.
Some improvement in body contour is usually noticeable right after surgery. And improvement may continue for several weeks or even months as the swelling goes away. The full effects of having liposuction may not be visible for several months. After fat has been removed, the skin around the area may be somewhat loose. It may take up to 2 months for the skin to tighten around the treated area. Some people's skin is very elastic and retracts more quickly than other people's skin. Younger skin tends to have greater elasticity than older skin.
What are the risks of liposuction?
Liposuction done by an experienced doctor in a properly equipped facility is usually safe. Having more than one area treated, or having a very large area treated, may increase the risk of complications during or after the procedure.
Common side effects of liposuction include:
Temporary swelling, bruising, soreness, and numbness in and around the treated areas.
Irritation and minor scarring around the incision sites where the cannulas were inserted.
Baggy or rippling skin. The skin will usually tighten and retract after a few months. But in some people the skin may remain somewhat loose.
If you gain weight after having liposuction, your body may store the new fat in a different place than where you had fat cells removed.
Who is the right candidate for liposuction?
Liposuction should be done only by a doctor who has special training in liposuction and plastic surgery and knows how to respond to complications during surgery.
If you are trying to lose weight, liposuction is not a substitute for exercise and a balanced diet. In fact, most cosmetic surgeons agree that the best candidates for liposuction are healthy people who are at or close to a healthy weight but who have stubborn fat deposits that do not respond to exercise.