Despite rigorous diet and exercise, there may be fat in your body that you can’t seem to get rid of. In such cases, liposuction can be the procedure that you can reflect upon. It uses a suction technique to remove fat from specific areas of the body. Liposuction also shapes (contours) these areas. In majority of cases, liposuction is done for cosmetic purposes. It is generally done by a plastic surgeon. It can be done with other plastic surgeries like facelifts, breast reductions and tummy tucks.
Am I a candidate?
Liposuction is not the first choice when it comes to weight reduction. If you are overweight, you are likely to shed more weight through diet, exercise or through bariatric procedures like gastric bypass surgery than with liposuction. You can think about liposuction if you have too much body fat in specific parts of the body. Having a firm and elastic skin is another criterion for liposuction.
There may be areas of fat in your body that do not respond to conservative methods of weight reduction, such as the:
- Chest and back
- Hips and thighs
In some cases, liposuction is also used for breast reduction.
When you gain weight, fat cells increase in volume and number. Fats cells in a particular area can be reduced with liposuction. The amount of fat to be removed depends on the overall appearance of the area and volume of the fat presents there. The shape that you get post the procedure is permanent provided you maintain ideal weight. Skin tone and elasticity are critical for the procedure in order to avoid skin looseness in the areas treated.
First step – consult your surgeon:
During the consultation let the surgeon know about your goals and what you wish to achieve with liposuction. Ask all your questions. If you decide to proceed with it, your surgeon will tell you how to prepare for it. Tell your surgeon if you have any allergies and medications that you are taking. You may be asked to stop some medications like blood thinners and certain painkillers several days before surgery. Make sure the place you select is accredited and is known for its professional standards, safety and good results.
Before undergoing the procedure, make sure there is somebody to drive you back home post procedure. If the amount of fat to be removed is large, you may be required to stay in the hospital overnight. Before the procedure starts, the surgeon will clearly mark the areas on which the treatment needs to be done. Photographs of the area will also be taken for before-and-after comparisons.
The choice of anesthesia could be either general or local. It will be decided by the anesthetist in consultation with the surgeon. If it is general, you will not be awake during the procedure and if it is local, you will be awake but no pain is felt.
Types of liposuction:
Mainly there are four types of liposuction. What they have in common is the use of a thin tube called cannula, connected to a vacuum to suck the fat from your body.
Suction assisted liposuction: In this type, the technique of suction is used to remove the fat. Suction is applied through a cannula ( a thin hollow tube that is inserted below the skin) to manually loosen fat.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction or UAL: In this technique, sound waves are used to rupture the cell walls of the fat. This will liquidize the fat so that it can be suctioned out.
Laser-assisted liposuction (SmartLipo): Here, laser energy is used to break the fat cells.
Power-assisted liposuction: PAS uses a specialized cannula with a mechanized system that rapidly moves back-and-forth, allowing the surgeon to pull out fat more easily.
After the operation, the wounds will be left open so that the excess fluid and blood can drain from the body.
Postoperative phase and recovery:
Your hospital stay depends on the extent of the surgery you had. Expect some pain, bruising and swelling post procedure. These will subside after a few weeks. You may be asked to wear compression garment for one to two months after the surgery to control swelling. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to prevent infection. You can take off from your work and health club for a few days. There may be numbness in the area where fat was removed. This should improve in six to eight weeks.
Because of the presence of the swelling, the treated area might appear a little bulky. Once the swelling subsides the treated area gets the new contour of a linear appearance. In order to keep the post-liposuction shape of your body, make sure you maintain ideal body weight.
Benefits of liposuction:
It is generally considered that liposuction is a cosmetic procedure, but sometimes it is used to treat certain conditions. These include:
Lymphedema: A chronic or long-term, condition in which excess fluid known as lymph collects in tissues, causing edema or swelling. The edema commonly occurs in the arms or legs. Liposuction is sometimes used to reduce swelling, discomfort, and pain.
Gynecomastia: Sometimes fat accumulates under a man’s breasts.
Lipodystrophy syndrome: Fat accumulates in one part of the body and is lost in another. Patient’s appearance can be improved with liposuction by providing a more natural-looking body fat distribution.
Extreme weight loss after obesity: In case of someone with morbid obesity, if s/he has to shed 40% of their BMI, liposuction along with body contouring surgeries can be the treatment of choice.
Lipomas: These are benign, fatty tumors.
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