Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure used to remove fat from various parts of the body such as the abdomen, buttocks, hips, or arms.
Liposuction can be done on its own or in conjunction with another procedure like an abdominoplasty.
What Does Liposuction Involve?
Liposuction is an outpatient procedure that can be done at a surgical center or doctor’s office. The doctor will administer some type of anesthesia: local, intravenous sedation, or general.
There are many different possible techniques, but the surgeon will use a thin and hollow tube called a cannula that will be connected to a suction device. The surgeon will make an incision and insert the cannula into it. The cannula will break up the fat, and the suction device will vacuum it out.
Types of Liposuction
The most common type of liposuction is tumescent liposuction. The surgeon will administer an injection containing a mixture of sterile salt water, epinephrine, and lidocaine; the last is an anesthetic. The mixture reduces both pain and blood loss.
Other types of liposuction use modified cannulas. For example, in ultrasonic liposuction, the cannula emits ultrasound waves that melt the fat cells and make them easier to remove. A surgeon using ultrasound can remove somewhat more fat than can surgeons using other techniques. VASER is an example of ultrasound liposuction.
In laser liposuction, the surgeon uses a cannula that emits a laser. Laser liposuction provides the advantages of a quicker recovery time and less discomfort.
What is the Recovery Like?
Most patients will not have to spend the night in the surgical center, but they should arrange to have somebody drive them home. The doctor will usually prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection, and they will also probably have the patient wear a compression garment for a few weeks to control swelling and promote healing. The patient will generally also be sore and bruised for a few weeks.
Most patients can return to work or school after a few days. Similarly, most patients will be able to resume other normal activities within two weeks of the procedure.
Who is a Good Candidate?
The ideal candidate will be somebody with overall good health and realistic expectations. Since the surgeon can remove only so much fat during the procedure, liposuction should not be used as a weight loss procedure. In fact, a good candidate should be within 30 percent of their optimal weight.
Similarly, liposuction can’t correct skin problems like cellulite. A client who wants to undergo liposuction needs to have some skin elasticity. Since smoking increases the risk of bleeding, a candidate for liposuction should not smoke.
Preparing for Liposuction
The patient needs to inform their doctor about any medications they are taking, including prescription medications, OTC drugs, and supplements. They should also tell their doctor about any allergies that they have.
Patients who smoke should quit at least two months before the procedure. Similarly, patients who take blood-thinners should stop taking them at least two weeks before the surgery. The patient should not shave the treatment area.