FAQ’s – Liposuction
Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic surgical procedure that can remove localized areas of fat from various areas of the body through a small incision using a thin tube called a cannula. The fat from the targeted area is suctioned from the body through this tube to help patients achieve a slimmer and more balanced contour.
While the conventional liposuction procedure was effective in removing excessive fat deposits, it was a painful procedure that involved suctioning out large areas of solid fat. New technology has allowed for different techniques that improve the accuracy and reduce the discomfort and downtime associated with this procedure. Today, liposuction is usually performed via the tumescent technique or with the help of ultrasound or a laser. These new technologies have transformed liposuction into a much safer and less invasive procedure.
The ideal candidate for liposuction is someone who is in good overall health, is not overweight but has one or more problem areas with unresponsive fat deposits. It is also important for patients to have realistic expectations, and remember that liposuction cannot be used as a means to obtain weight reduction. It is instead used to remove localized areas of stubborn fat after the patient has attempted other natural weight loss and exercise methods.
Liposuction can be used to treat localized fat deposits within the:
This procedure may be performed alone, or can be combined with other cosmetic procedures, such as a facelift, breast augmentation, lift or reduction or a tummy tuck, to achieve additional improvement in other areas.
There are several different techniques currently available for patients seeking liposuction treatment. Newer technologies have improved the efficiency and safety of this procedure, as well as the overall cosmetic results, allowing patients to achieve their desired results through a much less invasive procedure. Liposuction is almost always performed using a tumescent technique, and may also include the addition of ultrasound (VASER®) or laser energy to enhance fat removal (Smart lipo®, Slim lipo® and others). Dr. Epstein prefers using the VASER® over the laser assisted modalities. For more information and a comparison between these and other modalities used in liposuction, please read Body Contouring Modalities. This article is a nice overview of the various technological modalities available for liposuction.
Prior to entering the operating room, Dr. Epstein will mark the problems areas to be removed with a skin marker. The markings will look like concentric circles on a relief map. This information will assist Dr. Epstein in determining which areas require more treatment than others during the actual surgical procedure.
Upon entering the operating room, the nurse will “paint” your skin with an antiseptic and then you will lie down on the operating table. An intravenous line (IV) is started, monitoring lines are placed for your heart (EKG) and sterile sheets will be placed on you around the areas to be addressed. If sedation or general anesthesia is utilized, it will be given at this time.
Dr. Epstein will then mark specific areas for tiny incisions, approximately ¼ inch in length. These will be later used for the metal tubes, or cannulae, to pass into the skin to inject fluid and then remove the fat.
Next, a dilute solution of lidocaine (a local anesthetic to numb the skin), epinephrine (to reduce bleeding by making the blood vessels in the fat constrict tightly) will be injected into the fat through the tiny incisions made earlier. The amount of fluid given causes the skin and the fat to swell and become tense (tumesce), hence the name “tumescent technique”. By making the fat tense, it becomes easier to remove. The epinephrine permits fat removal with minimal or no blood loss.
If the VASER® is being used, then a thin solid probe, about the thickness of the metal suction cannula, is introduced into the incisions. The ultrasound energy is turned on. This energy is emitted from the tip of the probe. Any fat that is in contact with the probe is emulsified (liquefied). VASER® Lipo combines new patented technology with advanced surgical techniques to gently dissolve and remove excess fatty tissue from the abdomen, hips, “love handles,” “saddlebags,” thighs, arms, back, knees, neck and chin. The VASER® Lipo procedure uses ultrasound energy to eliminate fat while leaving nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue largely undisturbed. Without damage to this tissue, patients experience little pain and achieve much smoother results than with traditional liposuction.
For more information on the VASER®, please read “VASER – the latest technique in liposuction“.
The last step involves inserting the hollow metal tube (cannula) into the incisions. The tube is connected to a suction line. The excess fat is removed. In the case of traditional liposuction, the fat is removed by suctioning it off the underside of the skin. If the VASER® is utilized, the liquefied fat is removed.
The wounds are dressed. No sutures are required because the wounds can heal beautifully without them, and the open wounds, although tiny, promote drainage of fluids out of the body during the first couple of days after surgery to lessen swelling and bruising and hasten recovery times. Compression garments to reduce post-operative swelling may be applied at this time. You are then transferred to the recovery room.
After the liposuction procedure, patients may experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort in the treated area. Compression garments or elastic bandages may be used to help reduce these symptoms while the area heals. Patients can return to work and other regular activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually after a few days. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks.
Your doctor will give you special instructions on how to care for your treated area and reduce any complications after the procedure. The results of the liposuction procedure may not be visible until after swelling and bruising subside. This may take several months, and results will appear gradually throughout this time.
The results of liposuction can be permanent, as long as patients maintain a healthy and active lifestyle. If substantial weight is gained after this procedure, the results may be altered.
Although liposuction is considered safe, there are certain risks associated with any type of procedure. Some of these risks may include infection, scarring, allergic reactions, hematoma or unsatisfactory results. Liposuction is one of the most commonly performed cosmetic procedures and is almost always performed with no serious complications.
You can minimize potential risks by choosing an experienced doctor and by following his/her instructions before and after your procedure. To learn more about the liposuction procedure, we encourage you to call us today and schedule a consultation.