1 What is a Liposuction?

A liposuction is a surgical procedure that uses a suction technique to remove unwanted fat from a particular part of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, arms or neck.

Liposuction also shapes (contours) in these areas. Other names for liposuction are labioplasty and body contouring. Liposuction is not considered an overall weight-loss method or weight-loss alternative.

If you are overweight, you are likely to lose more weight through a diet or exercise or through bariatric procedures, such as gastric bypass surgery than you would with liposuction.

You might be a candidate for liposuction if you have excess fat if specific spots but otherwise have a stable body weight.

2 Reasons for Procedure

The main reason for liposuction is to get rid of fat from specific areas that have not responded to diet and exercise.

These areas include:

  • Abdomen
  • Arms
  • Buttocks
  • Calves and ankles
  • Chest and back
  • Hips and thighs
  • Neck

In addition, liposuction is sometimes used for breast reduction. As you gain weight, your fat cells increase in size and volume. Liposuction reduces the number of fat cells in a specific area.

The amount of fat removed depends on the appearance of the area and volume of fat. The resulting contour changes are generally permanent.

After liposuction, skin molds to the new contours of the areas that have been treated. If you have good skin tone and elasticity, your skin is likely to appear smooth.

However, you skin may appear loose if you have thin skin with poor elasticity. Liposuction does not improve cellulite dimpling or other skin surface irregularities. Likewise, it does not clear stretch marks.

Liposuction is not recommended for people who have conditions that could complicate surgery, including the following:

3 Potential Risks

Liposuction, as with many other major surgeries carries risks, such as bleeding and a reaction to anaesthesia.

Possible complications related to liposuction include:

Contour irregularities. Your skin might appear bump wavy, or withered due to uneven fat removal, poor skin elasticity, and unusual healing, These changes might be permanent.

Fluid accumulation. Temporary pockets of fluids (seromas) can form under the skin. This fluid might need to be drained using a needle.

Numbness. You might feel temporary or permanent numbness in the affected area. Temporary nerve irritation is also possible.

Infection. Skin infections are rare but possible. a serious skin infection can be life-threatening.

Internal puncture. In rare cases, a cannula that penetrates too deeply my puncture an internal organ. This might require emergency surgical repair.

Fat embolism. Pieces of loosened fat might break away and become trapped in a blood vessel and gather in the lungs or travel to the brain. A fat embolism is a medical emergency.

Kidney and heart problems. Shifts in fluid levels as fluids are being injected and suctioned out can cause potentially life-threatening kidney and heart problems.

The risk of complications increases if the surgeon is working n a larger area of your body or doing multiple procedures during the same operation.

4 Preparing for your Procedure

In preparing for your liposuction, you must follow your doctor’s orders. 

Food and medications. You should be able to discuss with your surgeon about what to expect before a liposuction can be performed.

Review your medical history, list any medical conditions you have and tell the surgeon about any medications, supplements or herbs you are taking.

Your surgeon will possibly recommend that you stop taking particular medications, such as blood thinners or NSAIDs, at least two weeks before the surgery.

Other precautions. If your procedure only requires the removal of a small amount of fat, the surgery might be done in an office setting.

If a large amount of fat has to be removed, or if you plan to have other procedures done simultaneously, the hospital might take place in a hospital followed by an overnight stay.

In either case, it is very vital to have someone drive you home after the procedure.

5 What to Expect

Read on to learn more about what to expect before, during, and after your liposuction procedure.

Before liposuction, the surgeon may mark circles and lines on the areas of your body to be treated. Photos also may be taken so that before and after images can be compared.

How your liposuction procedure is done depends on the specific technique that's used:

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 that causes the blood vessels to constrict (epinephrine) — 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 tumescent liposuction. During UAL, the surgeon inserts a metal rod that emits ultrasonic energy under your skin. This ruptures the fat cell walls and liquefies the fat for easier removal.

Powered liposuction. 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.

Powered liposuction may sometimes cause less pain and swelling and can allow the surgeon to remove fat with more precision, especially on smaller areas, such as the arms, knees or ankles.

During the procedure, Some liposuction procedures may require only local or regional anesthesia ¾ anesthesia limited to a specific area of your body.

Other procedures may require general anesthesia, which induces a temporary state of unconsciousness. You may be given a sedative, typically through an IV injection, to help you remain calm and relaxed.

The surgical team will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen level throughout the procedure. If you feel pain, tell your surgeon. The medication or motions may need adjustment.

The procedure may last up to several hours, depending on the extent of fat removal. After the procedure, the surgeon may leave your incisions open to promote fluid drainage.

If you've had general anesthesia, you'll wake in a recovery room. You'll typically spend at least a few hours in the hospital or clinic so that medical personnel can monitor your recovery.

If you're in a hospital, you may stay overnight to make sure that you're not dehydrated or in shock from fluid loss. After the procedure Expect some pain, swelling and bruising after the procedure.

You may need to wait a few days before returning to work and a few weeks before resuming your normal activities — including exercise. Your surgeon may prescribe medication to help control pain and antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection.

You also may need to wear tight compression garments, which help reduce swelling, for a few weeks. During this time, expect some contour irregularities as the remaining fat settles into position.

6 Procedure Results

If you do not understand your liposuction results, consult with your doctor.

After liposuction, swelling reduces in a period of about two weeks. By this time, the treated area should look less bulky than before.

Within several months, expect the treated area to have a leaner appearance. Liposuction results are typically long lasting if you maintain your weight.

If you gain weight after a liposuction, our fat distribution might change. For instance, you might accumulate fat around your abdomen regardless of what areas were treated.

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