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What Is Liposuction?

Monday, 11 Oct 2010 12:10 PM

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery procedure that removes fat from different parts of the body. Liposuction usually addresses problem areas like the thighs, buttocks, abdomen, back of arms, love handles, breasts, and neck.

The liposuction procedure was invented in 1974 by two Italian American surgeons working in Italy. Liposuction may be performed under general or local anesthesia. It is important for the patient to be healthy, fit, and a non- smoker for the liposuction procedure to be safe.
Liposuction is the number one cosmetic surgery procedure that is being done in the United States. This is probably due to its tumescent technique. The advantages of tumescent liposuction are the use of local anesthesia, less blood and fluid loss, and a shorter recovery time. Smaller incisions result in less scarring and the procedure involves less bruising and swelling.
Various types of liposuction procedures are as follows:
  1. Dry liposuction: The dry method does not use any fluid injection at all. This method is seldom used today.
  2. Wet liposuction: A small amount of fluid (less in volume than the amount of fat to be removed) is injected into the area. It is a combination of anesthetic, adrenaline, and saline solution. This fluid helps loosen fat cells and reduce bruising. The fat cells are then suctioned out.
  3. Superwet liposuction: With this method, the volume of fluid injected is the same as the amount of fat expected to be removed. This is the preferred method when larger volumes of fat are removed.
  4. Tumescent liposuction: High volumes of solution are injected directly into the subcutaneous fat. It is done under local anesthesia and the procedure involves minimal blood loss.
  5. Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL): Laser assisted liposuction uses thermal and photomechanical energy to carry out the lipolysis. This increases the skin-tightening effects through tissue coagulation.
Depending on the area where liposuction was done and the amount of fat removed, patients are usually able to return to work in two to four days. A compression garment needs to be used for two to four weeks.

Nonabsorbable stitches, if used, are removed after five to ten days. The final result is evident one to six months after the liposuction surgery, but a difference may be noticeable as soon as the swelling subsides.
Side effects of liposuction, which usually last for up to two weeks, include: bruising,  swelling, scarring, pain, numbness, and limited mobility.
More serious possible complications after liposuction may  include:
  • Allergic reactions
  • Infections
  • Damage to the skin
  • Damage to tissue below the skin, which appears as spotted skin
  • Death of skin
  • Puncture of internal organs
  • Irregular contour due to uneven fat removal or poor skin elasticity
  • Thromboembolism and fat embolism
  • Friction burns by the cannula
  • Lidnocaine toxicity which can cause respiratory and cardiac arrest
  • Disturbances in body’s fluid balance, which could badly affect the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
The good news is that the suctioned fat cells are permanently gone. However, one needs to maintain a proper diet and regularly exercise; otherwise, the remaining fat cells could enlarge.

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