Liposuction is a surgical procedure that is done to remove fat deposits from underneath the skin. Common areas that are treated: the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, chest and neck. (use medical graphic of body with labeled parts) The procedure is usually done as an outpatient under some combination of local anesthesia and/or sedation:. This means you are awake but relaxed and pain free. Depending on the number of areas to be treated and the specific technique selected, it may take from one to several hours. A small incision (cut) is made through the skin near the area of the fat deposit. Multiple incisions may be needed if a wide area or multiple areas are being done. A long hollow tube called a cannula will be inserted through this incision. Prior to inserting the cannula, the doctor may inject a solution of salt water that contains an anesthetic (numbing) medication and another medication to decrease bleeding. The cannula is then inserted and moved under the skin in a way to loosen the fat deposits so they may be suctioned out. Because a significant amount of body fluid is removed with the fat, an intravenous (through the veins) fluid line will be kept going during the procedure.
A recent technique called “ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty” uses a special cannula that liquefies the fat cells with ultrasonic energy. You should ask your doctor which technique he/she will use and how it will affect the type of anesthesia you will need and the length of the procedure.
Why is this procedure performed?
Liposuction is done to restore a more normal contour to the body. The procedure is sometimes described as body sculpting. It should be limited to fat deposits that are not responsive to diet and exercise. It is suggested that you should be within 20of your ideal body weight at the time of surgery. If you are planning to lose weight you should delay this procedure. This is not obesity surgery. The maximum amount of fat that can be removed is usually less than 10 pounds. The best results are achieved in people who still have firm and elastic skin. Although rare, there are risks and complications that can occur with liposuction. You should be aware that all the complications are increased if you are a smoker. You will need to quit smoking or at least avoid smoking for a month before and after surgery. If you have had prior surgeries near any of the areas to be treated, this may increase the risk of complications and you should discuss this with your doctor. Any history of heart disease, diabetes, bleeding problems or blood clots in your legs may make you more prone to post-operative problems and you should discuss these with your doctor. Finally, as with any cosmetic procedure it is important to have realistic expectations. The goals, limitations, and expectations of the procedure should be discussed openly and in detail with your doctor. Most insurance companies do not cover cosmetic surgery.
What should I expect during the post-operative period?
After surgery you should be able to go home but you will need someone to drive you. In the first few days after surgery it is common for the incisions to drain fluid and you will have to change dressings frequently. Fresh blood is not usual and if you have any bleeding you should call your doctor immediately. In some cases a small tube may have been placed through the skin to allow drainage. You will be limited to sponge baths until the drains and dressings are removed. After that you may take showers but no baths for 2 weeks. You may experience pain, burning, and numbness for a few days. Take pain medicine as prescribed by your doctor. You may notice a certain amount of bruising and swelling. The bruising will disappear gradually over 1 to 2 weeks. Some swelling may last for up to 6 months. If you have skin sutures they will be removed in 7 to 10 days. You should be able to be up and moving around the house the day after surgery but avoid any strenuous activity for about 1