Liposuction is the process of permanently removing fat through suctioning. It is not a substitute treatment for weight loss but, rather, a method of reshaping the body’s contours.
As we advance in life, the body tends to remap the areas where it deposits most of the excess fatty tissue. The flanks, lower abdomen and thighs become common targets in women. While in men it is commonly the abdomen flanks and chest.
In some people, even at a young age, there are stubborn fatty tissue deposits, mostly around the thighs, which seem to be genetic.
Liposuction is the removal of fat from deposits beneath the skin using a hollow stainless steel tube called a cannula and a powerful vacuum.
Both men and women undergo this procedure. However, it is not a method of weight reduction. Rather, it is a way to remove stubborn fatty deposits that remain despite dieting, exercise and/or massage.
In the early days of liposuction, the procedure involved using relatively large cannulae and was associated with extensive bruising and a higher risk of irregularities.
Today, liposuction uses much finer cannulae. This results in less trauma to the tissue and allows more control in the removal of fat. Furthermore, surgeons can use these finer cannulae closer to the skin surface to provide a superior result.
Surgeons no long consider the earlier approach, Dry Technique Liposuction effective. Today, the worldwide standard of care is the Tumescent Technique.
In tumescent liposuction the area undergoing treatment is injected with a buffered salt solution. This solution contains adrenaline to control bleeding and a long-acting local anaesthetic to minimise discomfort after the procedure.
Recent advances in Liposuction
A more recent addition to body sculpting surgery is the impressive LipoSelection technology termed VASER®. Based on an ultrasonic-assisted system, it allows for a carefully controlled and gentle surgical process to dissolve areas of fatty tissue deposition. You can use this form of liposuction safely around the face, neck, body and limbs.
The benefits of the technique include;
- Less post-operative bruising and swelling post-operatively
- Faster recovery
- Smoother surface even after more intense contouring.
Because of its ability to reduce irregularities, the process has been reliably used in abdominal etching. It has also given rise to the concept of high-definition liposuction.
Your Consultation for Lipo Surgery
During your consultation, your surgeon will ask about your;
- General health
- Medical conditions
- Goals for the surgery
- And the specific areas where you want fat removed.
It is important that you discuss your goals fully with your surgeon so he can advise you as to whether the results will meet your expectations.
He may tell you that you could require more than one liposuction session to achieve your goals without unacceptable risk.
Your Surgeon may also recommend an alternative procedure such as an Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) if the abdominal skin has become too loose. If you have loose skin and/or dimpling (cellulite) you are probably not an ideal candidate for liposuction. In fact, liposuction could make these conditions worse. In these situations, an Abdominoplasty, thigh lift or body lift may be a better procedure for you.
As part of your consultation, your surgeon will perform an exam, explain the details of the procedure and develop a specific plan for surgery and recovery with you.
In most cases, your Surgeon will require that you be relatively close to your ideal body weight but this is not an absolute requirement. Rather, it reflects the fact that there is a surgically safe limit to the volume of fat that a surgeon can remove at any time and a limitation on how much your skin will shrink after large-volume liposuction.
For these reasons, if you are contemplating liposuction as part of a more extensive diet and exercise program with the aim of losing 5 or more kilograms of weight, your Surgeon will recommend that you lose the weight before your surgery.
It is fair to say that the results of liposuction often motivate people to adopt better diets and more extensive exercise. However, you should not rely on making these changes after your procedure.
Do you Suffer from Diabetes?
If you are diabetic you may still have liposuction. In some cases, you may find that the removal of fat will reduce your insulin requirements. Please note, however, that this is not a treatment recognised by insurance companies.
Your Liposuction Surgery – What to Expect
Your surgeon may choose to perform your Liposuction procedure under either general or local anaesthesia. This depends on the part of the body undergoing treatment as well as the amount of fat removal.
This procedure can be a sole procedure or with other procedures like breast reduction or abdominoplasty.
In all cases, it is normal for your anaesthetist to give you intravenous fluids to replace those lost during your procedure.
Liposuction surgery takes between 30 minutes and several hours depending on the number of areas undergoing treatment and the volume of reduction.
If the liposuction is less extensive it may be a day procedure, meaning you will be able to go home following your procedure. However, larger volume reductions or treatment to multiple areas may require an overnight hospital stay.
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After Your Liposuction Surgery
Immediately after your liposuction, the parts of your body that were operated on will be dressed. These dressings must remain in place for one week. Showers and baths may still be possible during this period.
The most important aspect of treatment after your procedure is the wearing of compression garments. You may need to wear these for up to six weeks: three weeks day and night, three weeks night only.
It is important to understand that although only tiny incisions are made, liposuction creates a large wound hidden under the skin. How fast you recover depends on how extensive your procedure was.
- Tenderness, bruising and swelling are normal after your procedure.
- They should subside in the following weeks.
- You can potentially lessen these symptoms by taking Arnica for one week prior and two weeks after surgery.
- In general you should walk around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and restore the circulation to normal.
- This reduces the risk of clots in the leg veins (deep vein thrombosis).
- You will need adequate rest in the days and weeks after your procedure as well as regular, gentle exercise.
- You can relieve discomfort after surgery with mild analgesics like Paracetamol.
- However you need to avoid Aspirin as it can promote bleeding.
- Depending on your treatment area, you should be able to return to work in 7-14 days.
- Patients may experience some leakage of fluid from their incisions.
- You may need tubes/drains under your skin for a few days.
- You should also expect some numbness and itching in and around the treatment area, but this should disappear gradually.
- Permanent areas of numbness are rare.
- Infection after liposuction is also rare.
- However should it occur, antibiotics often successfully treat the problem.
Recovery after Lipo surgery
During the first few weeks after your procedure, you may need to take antibiotics and wear a compression garment over your treatment area to reduce swelling. During this time your stitches will either dissolve or be removed. Your swelling should also begin to go down during this time. In fact, most swelling will disappear after three weeks or so. However, some may remain for several months.
Once the swelling has subsided, temporary patchy firmness of the treatment area is common.
- Massage at this stage helps soften and flatten the area.
- Do bear in mind, though, that it may take several months for the area to return to normal.
- Some people feel discouraged after liposuction surgery, especially in these first few weeks when the swelling creates the impression that the results are less than expected. This is quite normal and will pass.
Using today’s equipment, experienced Plastic Surgeons are able to remove fat in a way that minimises post-operative skin irregularities or asymmetry. It is possible, however, that some difference in fat removal will be apparent. If this occurs, a minor, secondary liposuction procedure may be necessary, usually after six months.
In cases where large amounts of fat are removed, loose skin may be a problem depending on your skin and the area of the body where the surgery was performed.
- If you have elastic skin which contracts well this may not be an issue.
- If your skin is not elastic (usually true of people with stretch marks) you may require skin-tightening procedures in addition to the liposuction.
These skin tightening procedures may include thigh and abdominal tucks.
Dr Patrick Briggs
Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery Clinic in Melbourne
Dr Patrick Briggs is a Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon. Both he and his team are dedicated to excellence in patient care and are committed to treating each and every patient with respect and privacy.
Not only does he offer high-quality results he also offers natural-looking plastic and cosmetic surgery results. Furthermore, he is experienced in Breast, Body and Face Surgery having performed over 4500 Surgeries in private practice.
How can we help?
Dr Briggs’ Patient Coordinators take pleasure in assisting you with any questions when considering a plastic surgery procedure. Please call the Hawthorn East clinic in Melbourne between 8 am – 6 pm on Weekdays.
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What to Bring to Your Consultation
- If you like, please bring a friend or relative to help discuss the information and your choices.
- Take a lot of notes and thoroughly examine the documents your surgeon provides.
- You may need to undress so it’s a good idea to wear simple clothes.