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Alternative namesFat removal - suctioning
DefinitionLiposuction is the removal of excess body fat by suction with specialized surgical equipment, typically performed by a plastic surgeon.
Liposuction has achieved the distinction of being the most popular cosmetic surgical procedure. By removing unwanted deposits of excess fat, liposuction improves body appearance and smoothes irregular or distorted body shapes. The procedure is sometimes referred to as body contouring.
Liposuction may be useful for contouring under the chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankle areas.
However, liposuction is a serious surgical procedure and possibly may involve a painful recovery. It has the potential for rare but serious or occasionally fatal complications, so the decision to have liposuction should be well thought out.
Before undergoing liposuction certain criteria must be met:
There are several different liposuction procedures.
Prior to the day of surgery you may have blood drawn and be asked to provide a urine sample. This allows the health care provider to rule out potential complications. If you are not hospitalized, you will need a ride home.
A liposuction machine and specialized instruments are required for this surgery. The surgical team first preps the patient's operative site and administers either local or general anesthesia. Through a small skin incision, a suction tube with a sharp end is inserted into the fat pockets and swept through the area where fat is to be removed. The dislodged fat is literally "vacuumed" away through the suction tube. A vacuum pump or a large syringe provides the suction action. Several skin punctures may be necessary to treat large areas.
After the appropriate amount of fat is removed, small drainage tubes may be inserted into the defatted areas to remove blood and fluid that accumulate during the first few days. If significant fluid or blood is lost during the surgery, the patient may require fluid replacement (intravenously) or even a blood transfusion.
After the surgery, pressure bandages are applied to keep pressure and stop any bleeding, as well as help maintain shape. Bandages are kept in place usually for at least 2 weeks. Your doctor may call you from time to time to check on your health status and monitor your healing. A visit back to the surgeon after 5-7 days is often recommended. Occasionally liposuction is associated with weight gain. This is due to the increased fluid from surgery.
Liposuction may or may not require hospitalization, depending on the location and extent of surgery. Liposuction can be done in an office-based facility, in a surgery center on an outpatient basis, or in a hospital. For reasons of cost and convenience, liposuction of smaller volumes is usually done as an outpatient. A stay in a hospital may be required if a larger volume of fat is being removed, or if you are having other procedures done at the same time.
The following are some of the uses for liposuction:
However, liposuction is generally NOT appropriate for these uses:
Many alternatives to liposuction may be considered, including abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), excision of lipomas (fatty tumor), reduction mammaplasty (breast size reduction), or a combination of plastic surgery approaches.
RisksCertain pre-existing conditions should be thoroughly checked and brought under control before any surgery, including liposuction:
There are also inherent risks associated with receiving liposuction and these include:
Finally, make sure to review and sign any informed consent (legal) and permission for photographs.
Expectations after surgeryMost patients, once correctly informed, are satisfied with the cosmetic result following their surgery. Informed patients understand that there are limitations to what liposuction can accomplish.
If you are having a large amount of fat removed, such as having fat removed from your abdomen, or you are being put to sleep (general anesthesia) for the procedure, you should expect to be admitted to the hospital. If you are having a smaller amount of fat removed, such as from the thighs, and with the area numbed (local anesthesia) for the procedure, you may be able to have it done on an outpatient, same-day basis as long as the office has the proper equipment and oxygen on hand, should it be needed.
The liposuctioned area may appear larger than before surgery because of swelling. A tight stocking, girdle, or snug elastic dressing must be worn over the treated area to reduce swelling and bleeding, and to help shrink the skin to fit the new contour. This garment should be worn continuously for 2 to 3 weeks.
Your doctor will monitor your progress through follow-up visits. If you have any questions or problems between office visits you should call your doctor. Your new body shape begins to emerge in the first couple of weeks; however, it isn't until about 4 to 6 weeks that the improvement becomes more apparent. By exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, you can help to maintain your new shape.
Update Date: 7/23/2003Hebe Molmenti, M.D., Ph.D., Private practice specializing in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT