Dr. Aric Aghayan is a cosmetic medicine and surgery specialist practicing in Portland, OR. Dr. Aghayan specializes in the enhancement of appearance. Improving aesthetic, symmetry and proportion are key goals in cosmetic surgery.
Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world. The procedure removes fat from areas of the body that are resistant to diet and exercise, such as the abdomen, love handles, hips, thighs, and arms.
Liposuction can provide your body with the contours you want but cannot achieve with diet and exercise alone. However, liposuction isn’t a substitute for weight loss, and there are downsides and risks associated with the procedure.
Why Is Liposuction Done?
Liposuction is popular because it can easily remove fat from parts of the body that are resistant to diet and exercise. Unfortunately, many people have a genetic tendency to collect fat in the abdomen or thighs, and it can be almost impossible to achieve the desired results independently.
Tumescent liposuction is considered the gold standard in the plastic surgery field. The surgeon injects the target area with lidocaine, epinephrine, and saline to reduce swelling and bleeding. Then, the surgeon inserts a cannula to suck out the fat and liquid,
After you have liposuction, your skin will mold to your new shape. As long as your skin is toned and firm, you should be pleased with the results. However, if you have loose skin in the treatment area, you could have loose and sagging skin.
Your surgeon will examine you during your consultation to decide if you’re a good candidate for liposuction.
Liposuction techniques and technology have evolved, and the procedure is very safe today if a skilled surgeon does the procedure.
Liposuction is still surgery, however, and there are risks. Some of these include bleeding, poor incision healing, infections, and nerve injury.
The good news is tumescent liposuction usually minimizes these risks. There are no known deaths when the tumescent method is used with local anesthesia.
Like any surgery, liposuction can cause short-term bruising, swelling, and skin numbness, but these problems usually resolve within three or four weeks.
If your surgeon uses a larger cannula, there is a higher risk of lumpiness and skin irregularities. If the surgeon uses a small cannula, these problems usually do not occur.
Some of the other possible complications and downsides with liposuction are:
This is a potentially fatal complication where a blood clot forms, usually in the legs, during general anesthesia, breaks off and travels to the lung or heart.
Blood clots are a risk in any surgery, and this is why you should take a daily walk a few days after you get home. This will keep the blood moving and minimize the risk of blood clots.
Liposuction involves small incisions, so infections don’t happen often. However, occasionally, a poorly sterilized surgical instrument can cause an infection. Therefore, it’s also critical to keep your incisions clean and bandaged.
You may have temporary numbness in the treated areas for a week or two after liposuction. This is caused by the cannula disturbing nerve endings under the skin. But most patients recover full sensation eventually.
After liposuction, you’ll notice considerable swelling in the treated area; this is part of the healing process. It usually fades after four to eight weeks.
Swelling can be reduced if your surgeon has you wear a compression garment for four to eight weeks after surgery.
Also, some surgeons leave the incision sites open so they can drain, but others may close them with sutures. If your surgeon closes the incisions, you could experience more swelling, but it will fade after a few weeks.
Patients occasionally have an accumulation of fluid in the lungs after liposuction. Severe cases of this problem can lead to death.
Pulmonary edema can happen if too much IV fluids are given to the patient, but this is not necessary during tumescent liposuction because of the fluid put under the skin. This fluid is more than enough to replace the fluid lost during the procedure.
Skin necrosis can happen after liposuction if the blood vessels supplying the skin are damaged. It can occur in liposuction if your plastic surgeon uses a cannula to damage the skin purposely.
Some surgeons think that causing skin damage will make it contract more. But this should never be done. This is another reason to choose a skilled, board-certified surgeon for your procedure.
Liposuction Long-Term Side Effects
The long-term outcome of liposuction varies by patient. Liposuction permanently removes fat cells from the target area, so if you gain weight, your body will store fat in a different body area.
The new fat may develop under the muscles and around the organs, which can be a health risk if it occurs around the heart, liver, or kidneys.
Other long-term issues include nerve damage and loss of sensation in the treatment area.
However, if you work with a board-certified plastic surgeon, you will probably be pleased with the results.
Liposuction is usually a safe and effective procedure that can fine-tune your body’s contours and make you look slimmer and more attractive. However, liposuction isn’t a substitution for weight loss.
Please talk to your board-certified plastic surgeon about the possible risks of the procedure and whether you’re a good candidate for liposuction.
Liposuction Procedure by Dr. Aric Aghayan, M.D. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.apresplasticsurgery.com/procedures/body/liposuction-portland-or/
Liposuction Overview. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/liposuction/about/pac-20384586
Liposuction Safety. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/liposuction/safety
Liposuction Safety Overview. (2019). Accessed at https://www.healthline.com/health/is-liposuction-safe#takeaway