What is liposuction?
Liposuction—also known as lipoplasty or lipo—is a safe outpatient procedure that removes excess fat deposits from certain areas of the body. Liposuction improves the proportions of the body, giving patients—men and women alike—a more slimmed look.
Areas of the body that liposuction can treat include:
- Abdomen (stomach)
- Ankles and calves
- Back and chest
- Cheeks, neck and chin
- Upper arms
In many cases, liposuction is performed along with other procedures, such as a facelift, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) or breast reduction. It’s also important to note that liposuction is not effective for treating cellulite (dimpled skin) or saggy skin.
How is liposuction performed?
There are a few commonly used techniques for performing liposuction. Types of liposuction procedures include:
Tumescent liposuction: This technique involves injecting a fluid mixture into the part of the body being worked on. The mixture is made up of:
- Anesthetic (lidocaine) to numb the treatment area during and after the procedure;
- Adrenaline to constrict blood vessels reducing blood loss and bruising;
- Salt solution to facilitate fat removal
The fluid mixture injection—which can be up to three times the amount of fat being removed—is suctioned out with the fat during the procedure.
Super-wet liposuction: This technique is similar to that of tumescent liposuction, but uses less fluid; the amount of fluid injected is equal to the amount of fat that will be removed. Super-wet liposuction takes less time to perform, but the patient will need to be sedated or placed under general anesthesia.
Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL): LAL uses a laser to liquefy the fat cells while heating the adipose (fatty) tissues. The liquified fat is removed using standard liposuction technique. The heat produced by the laser also helps to increase the amount of tissue shrinkage after liposuction.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): Similar to LAL, UAL uses ultrasonic vibrations to liquefy fat that is then suctioned out. This technique is useful for removing fat from dense, fibrous areas of the body, such as enlarged male breast tissue or the back.
What is recovery like following liposuction?
After the procedure, patients will be asked to wear some type of elastic bandage or compression garment to help contour the area and minimize swelling. The swelling may take several months to fully disappear.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of the procedure and reduce the post-operative recovery time, it is important that patients follow instructions regarding activity restriction and wear compression garments as directed. As soon as the doctor approves, it is helpful to return, in stages, to an exercise program.
Once recovered, keeping a healthy lifestyle is critical to maintaining results. Patients must exercise and eat sensibly to maintain the desired body shape.
Who is a candidate for liposuction?
Ideal candidates for liposuction include:
- Adults with good muscle tone and elastic skin that are within 30 percent of their ideal body weight
- Patients with specific body contour goals in mind with a positive outlook