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Liposuction FAQ

Am I A Candidate for Liposuction?

Liposuction is one of the most effective body contouring procedures and produces excellent results for people who have deposits of excess fat that make certain body areas appear disproportionately large. The best results are achieved in patients who are at or near their normal weight with good skin elasticity and are interested in improving their body contour. Fat deposits that have not responded to diet and exercise or that are genetically predetermined in a specific area can be eliminated through liposuction.

Where And How Big Are The Incisions for Liposuction?

The incisions are usually placed within the natural folds of the skin so that they are virtually undetectable after healing has progressed. The parts of the body that are treated determine where the incisions are placed. The incisions will vary between 1⁄8" up to 1⁄2" inch depending on the type of cannula and technique used.

Is Liposuction Effective in Removing Cellulite?

Cellulite is a condition where fibrous adhesions attach the skin to the underlying fascia in certain areas of the body. Heredity tends to play a part in whether or not you have cellulite, which may not become apparent until gaining weight, usually in the mid-20´s to 30´s. It can be best managed by successful weight reduction programs to eliminate the bulging of the fatty tissue around these adhesions. There are no effective creams, medications or lotions that will improve cellulite. Liposuction does not effectively treat cellulite either although it may be somewhat helpful in selected areas.

Which Areas Of The Body Are Best For Liposuction, And Which Are The Least Effective?

Liposuction is used in the following areas most effectively: Chin and neck; upper arms; breast area; back; abdomen and waist; hips and buttocks; thighs; inner knees; and to a lesser extent, the calves and ankles.

Small cannula liposuction can be used effectively in the calf and ankle areas in selected patients; however, it may be necessary to wear compression garments longer in these areas due to lingering swelling. The buttocks and particularly the medial thigh areas should be treated with caution as removing too much fat may result in the excess skin being obvious.

How Much Bruising and Swelling Is There In The Immediate Postop Period and How Are Garments Used?

Liposuction of the soft tissues produces a fair amount of bruising and swelling. Compression garments or elastic bandages, which are provided by our office, are extremely helpful in controlling and minimizing swelling. Usually, garments are worn anywhere from two weeks to three months depending on the areas treated. You may remove the garments to bathe.

During the first week, the swelling will be greatest and then gradually subside. After several weeks, your bruises will fade and disappear and your sensation will return to normal. You may return to non-strenuous work after a week and resume your normal exercise and activities after two to three weeks.

Is Liposuction Performed As An Outpatient or Inpatient Procedure and Do I Have To Be Put To Sleep?

The vast majority of liposuction is performed on an outpatient basis. We use our accredited office surgical suite or any other outpatient surgery center. Although large volume ultrasonic liposuction can be performed in an outpatient setting where anesthesiologists are available for fluid management, patients often stay for 23-hour observation period.

Various types of anesthesia can be used when performing liposuction. We prefer our patients to have the most effective level of comfort during their procedure. Therefore, during liposuction performed in our office surgical suite, we utilize IV sedation where the patient is awake but not aware of the procedure. For some patients general anesthesia may be the best choice. Your surgeon will select the safest type of anesthesia for you.

How Much Weight Difference Will There Be After Liposuction Surgery?

Fat tissue is not extremely dense or very heavy, thus removing three to five liters of fat from your body will not result in significant weight loss. The difference will be in your body contour, usually in inches and how your clothes fit. You may even initially gain a small amount of weight in the immediate postoperative period due to fluid that is given during surgery. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity but it can permanently change body proportion and eliminate fat deposits that do not respond to diet or exercise.

What Are The Risks to Liposuction?

The typical risks associated with liposuction  are standard with every procedure, such as problems with anesthesia, bleeding, and infection; however, these risks are low. The removal of fat through small incisions with cannulas is an inexact science and occasionally there will be contour irregularities or mild asymmetry when comparing sides. This is more common in individuals who are very overweight, have poor skin quality or smoke.

What Are The Differences Between The Various Liposuction Techniques?

The basic liposuction technique involves inserting a cannula (slim, hollow tube) through one or more small incisions so that the tip penetrates the fat. The cannula is connected by flexible tubing to a suction pump that vacuums the fat into the tube as the surgeon moves the cannula back and forth.
The tumescent technique includes pre-injecting a salt-water solution containing small amounts of adrenaline and local anesthesia into the fat.
Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty requires a two-step technique using energy from sound waves to liquefy fat before it is suctioned.

Certain body areas respond better to one technique or another but there are certain additional risks with ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty. It is imperative that you choose a Plastic Surgeon certified in this technique and that an anesthesiologists trained in fluid management is available during surgery. Other differences include considerable drainage from your introduction incisions and more nerve irritation.