Liposuction or just lipo is the process of removing excess fat from a person’s body. One should note that liposuction procedure is not an alternative to weight loss and must be opted only when dieting and working out regularly is not helping you lose weight. A good plastic surgeon will not recommend liposuction if you haven’t worked out enough to lose weight.
Typically liposuction procedure is performed on lower abdomen, thighs, chin, chest, back, hips etc.
Are you a good candidate to undergo liposuction?
Your current medical condition plays an important part in deciding if you are good candidate to undergo liposuction.
- You should be a non smoker or if you smoke, your plastic surgeon will advise you to quit. Smoking hampers healing of wounds or surgical injuries.
- Your skin should have enough elasticity so that it gets shrinks after removing excess fat.
- You should be free of existing co-morbidities such as diabetes, heart conditions, high blood pressure etc.
How is liposuction procedure done (how fat removal is done during liposuction)?
- You will be instructed not to have any food on the day of surgery. You should be on empty stomach as you will be given anesthesia.
- The areas where the fat needs to be removed will be clearly marked by your doctor. Also, the places where incision will be made will also be marked by the surgeon. With your permission, your doctor will take pictures of the area or your full body before the surgery. These will be helpful to compare the results after recovering from the surgery.
- Depending on the area of the surgery, your plastic surgeon may give you full body anesthesia or just local anesthesia. If you are given full body anesthesia, you will be asleep during the surgery.
After you fall asleep, the fat in the body will be removed with a thin tube called cannula. In a nutshell, the fat under the skin will be allowed to liquefy (kind of melting) and the liquefied fat is removed through the cannula. How the melting of fat is done varies depending on the procedure used.
Types of liposuction procedure:
- Tumescent Liposuction. This is the most common technique used in liposuction. In this procedure saline solution is injected into the area where the fat has to be removed. Along with the saline solution (which is actually a mix of sterilized water and salt), lidocaine and epinephrine will also be injected into the fat layer under the skin. The solution makes it easier to suck out the fat with less blood loss and pain.
- Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction (UAL) – Energy generated from ultrasound waves will be used to liquefy the fat and to rupture/burst the walls of the fat cells. Then the fat is sucked out through the cannula.
- SmartLipo or Laser Assisted Liposuction – Instead of sound waves, the energy here is generated with a controlled laser beam. Rest of the procedure remains the same.
The expertise of the plastic surgeon is really important when removing the fat from the body. In order to achieve even tone and good body contour, the fat needs to be removed evenly from everywhere. No fat lumps should be left out. Uneven removal of fat results in fat lumps showing up as bumps on the skin. If the liquefied fat is not removed, the small bits of fat can turn into clots in the body which can be life threatening.
Recovery after liposuction procedure
Once the procedure is done, you will be under observation for some time. If your doctor is convinced that the procedure went well, you will be sent home the same day with instructions and prescription. Prescription typically includes pain medication / pain killers and antibiotics. You need to follow your doctor’s advice to the word for a quick and perfect recovery.
The surgical area will be bound with tight bandages and you need to keep them in place to help your body heal and the skin to contract. Swelling, soreness, pain and bruising are common and must be expected after the surgery. They shouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks. Tight compressions should be worn for about 2 months after the surgery.
You should avoid lifting heavy weights or putting pressure in the surgical area. You can go back to work after 2 weeks but make sure you don’t have too much physical activity.
Risks of liposuction surgery
As with any surgery, liposuction surgery has it’s own risks and most of them depend on the individual’s health condition, expertise of the person who administers anesthesia and the plastic surgeon who actually does the procedure.
- Improper removal of fat can result in uneven skin surface and can also leave life threatening fat clots in the body.
- Not sterilizing the equipment can result in severe infection that can sometimes be fatal.
- Accumulation of fluids in the area of surgery can be seen but that should eventually go away.
- Damage to internal organs – typically caused with inexperienced surgeons.
- Loss of sensation, temporarily or permanently in the area after surgery.
- Damage to nerves, blood vessels etc is also possible.
Looking to go for liposuction? First, search for the best and top rated plastic surgeon near you. Talk to the doctor and try to understand his/her suggestions. Don’t hesitate to take an appointment with more than 2 plastic surgeons to get their opinions. Once you are convinced with one specialist, you can go ahead with the procedure. Remember, cost of liposuction is the last fact you should be considering when you want to opt for this procedure.