As a fundamental tool in body contouring, liposuction (or “lipoplasty”) is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes excess fat deposits from essentially any part of the body, in an effort to improve the contours and proportions of your body.
Liposuction is considered to be a less invasive than certain other body contouring procedures and can be used to reduce localized fat deposits in the:
- Abdomen and waist
- Chin and neck
- Chest area
- Hips and buttocks
- Inner knee
- Upper arms
Liposuction can be used alone or as an adjunct in the number of plastic surgery procedures, such as face- and neck lifts, breast reduction, and abdominoplasty. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity, nor a substitute for a healthy diet and lifestyle.
2. ideal candidates
Generally, ideal candidates for liposuction are healthy, non-smoking adults who are bothered by excess fat deposits in a particular region of their body that has failed to respond to diet or exercise alone. Ideally, candidates should have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone, a stable weight, and be within 30% of their ideal weight. Interested candidates should also have realistic expectations with regard to what can be achieved with liposuction.
3. the procedure
- The procedure can either be performed under general anesthesia or under local anesthesia with intravenous sedation.
Liposuction is performed through small 3-4 mm incisions (usually 2-3 per treatment area) in inconspicuous areas of the body that allow the liposuction cannula to access the desired area to be treated.
- A dilute local anaesthetic solution is first infiltrated through the access incisions to reduce bleeding and minimize post operative pain.
- A thin hollow tube, or cannula, is then inserted through the access incisions and used to loosen excess fat by means of a controlled back-and-forth motion.
- The loosened fat is then removed from the body by applying suction the cannula.
4. PREOPERATIVE EVALUATION
During your consultation, Dr. Lee will carefully evaluate your desired treatment areas, assess your aesthetic goals, and help you determine if liposuction will allow you to achieve your desired results. Dr. Lee will perform a thorough medical evaluation during your preoperative consultation to ensure that you are medically fit for surgery. He will also revise your medication list, as certain medications may need to be temporarily stopped before your surgery.
Since smoking is known to be associated with poor/delayed wound healing, wound dehiscence, wound infections, and increased scarring postoperatively, smokers will be asked to stop smoking 4 weeks prior to surgery, and for at least 2 weeks postoperatively.
Patients will also be scheduled for routine pre-operative blood testing and an electrocardiogram 1-2 weeks before surgery. If necessary, further recommendations will be made once the results of your tests have been reviewed.
Recovery times following liposuction vary and depends on factors such as the region of the body treated, the amount of fat removed, and the overall length of the procedure. Pain, swelling, and bruising are expected after surgery. You will be prescribed a pain medication to help control your discomfort. A compression garment (or elastic bandage) will be applied over your dressings at the end of your surgery and will help reduce swelling and allow for your skin to remain in contact with your newly contoured region of your body as you heal. Although your results will be partially evident almost immediately following surgery, it will take 6-12 months for your swelling to completely resolve and for you to see your final results.
Patients are encouraged to walk immediately following surgery and most are capable of returning to work in 2-3 days; however, this will ultimately depend on the extent of liposuction that was performed. In cases where more extensive liposuction is performed, we would generally recommend for you to take at least a week off work. Swelling should start decreasing approximately 7-10 days after surgery; it is not uncommon for you to have residual swelling for up to 6 months. Light exercises are permitted at 2 weeks, and full exercise and activities can be resumed after 4-6 weeks.
Before leaving our facilities, you will be given specific instructions on how to care for your wounds throughout your recovery. It is imperative that you follow these recommendations in order to minimize the appearance of your scars and ultimately achieve your best possible result. Dressings should be left in place until your first post-operative visit with Dr. Lee, at which point he will assess your wounds and if necessary, apply new dressings.
6. RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS
As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with liposuction. Smoking, diabetes, peripheral artery disease (poor circulation), as well as heart, lung, or liver disease may increase your risk of perioperative and/or post-operative complications.
Liposuction risks/complications include:
- Risks associated with anesthesia
- Altered skin sensation
- Damage to deeper structures (such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs, and abdominal organs)
- Deep venous thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Blood clots
- Contour irregularities
- Unfavorable/suboptimal scarring
- Poor wound healing
- Irregular pigmentation
- Persistent postoperative pain
- Persistent swelling
- Unsatisfactory aesthetic result
- Possible need for revision surgery
- Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound using the ultrasound-assisted liposuction technique
Dr. Lee will thoroughly discuss these risks (and possibly others) with you and answer any questions you might have prior to obtaining your consent for surgery.