Liposuction FAQs

 

How many techniques are there for liposuction?

Is liposuction permanent?

What does a typical liposuction consultation entail?

How is liposuction performed?

Where are the incisions made; are there any scars?

What should I expect post-operatively?

Is it quite painful? Is there much bruising?

When will I be able to return to work?

When will I be able to see the results?

What are the risks of liposuction?

 

How many techniques are there for Liposuction?
Tumescent Liposuction uses injections of saline to deliver lidocaine (for anesthetic properties) and epinephrine (to constrict blood vessels and impede bleeding) to engorge the areas to be treated. The idea is to prohibit major blood loss, diminish bruising, and tumesce the areas to be suctioned. This way the fatty areas can be removed without major tissue damage. With the tumescent technique, the amount of saline solution used is two to three times the amount of fat to be removed. One drawback to this technique is lidocaine toxicity, a potentially fatal condition which occurs when too much lidocaine is used.

Super-Wet Technique is similar to the tumescent technique but uses less of the saline/lidocaine/epinephrine solution. Generally the amount of solution and the amount of fat removed are roughly equal. The super-wet technique is less risky than the tumescent technique, but lidocaine toxicity is still possible.

Ultrasound (or -sonic) Assisted Liposuction (UAL) or Lipoplasty involves a cannula that emits ultrasonic energy. As the ultrasonic energy excites the fat cells, they literally liquefy. The liquefied fat is removed through the use of a suction pump. UAL takes a little longer to perform than other techniques and can sometimes give a patient burns if care is not exercised in the use of the ultrasonic cannula.

Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL or MicroAire Technique) is a newer technique where the cannula eases through the fatty tissue with less trauma than traditional techniques and with none of the burn risks associated with the UAL techniques. This new machine uses a special high-speed linear reciprocating suction cannula which enables surgeons to perform more effective high-volume liposuction in a shorter time with less trauma, especially in more fibrous areas (buttocks, saddlebags upper thighs in women, back, and male breast). The PAL system moves through these areas faster and with less trauma, resulting in less work and strain for the surgeon and less pain and a faster recovery for patients.

Liposuction is not a substitute for a good diet and regular exercise. Liposuction is used for those who cannot lose stubborn targeted areas of fat, no matter how much they diet or exercise.

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Is Liposuction permanent?
To a certain degree, yes, although any remaining fat cells will enlarge if you overeat and gain weight. If you gain weight after liposuction, it will show up in other areas of your body where fat cells remain.

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What does a typical Liposuction consultation entail?
Your surgeon will discuss your goals with you and explain what can be achieved realistically. A surgeon should take into account your body structure and be able to recognize where fat is needed (which is just about everywhere, just not in excess). There is no "one size fits all" technique when it comes to this procedure. Each case is unique.

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How is Liposuction performed?
Small incisions are made and the excess fat is suctioned out through these small incisions. Sometimes a tumescent technique is used where a solution of saline, lidocaine, and epinephrine is injected into the targeted area to engorge the tissues and create a firmer working area. The fat cells, which are softer, are suctioned out. Another technique involving ultrasonic waves is called Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction, or UAL. These ultrasonic waves excite the tissue's liquid molecules and literally melt the fat for easy removal by low-level suction. Sutures are sometimes used to close the incisions, or they remain open to assist in drainage. A support garment is sometimes worn to prevent the formation of lumps and bumps.

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Where are the incisions made?
The incisions are made within the natural folds of the body - in the pubic area, natural skin folds, inside the navel, the inner knees, and several places along the thighs. Unnecessary scarring is generally avoided in all techniques. Discuss incision placement with your surgeon.

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What should I expect post-operatively?
You may feel a little sore, but excessive pain is very rare with liposuction. It's more of an uncomfortable soreness. Analgesics prescribed by your doctor should alleviate this pain. There will be swelling and bruising. You may be asked to wear a support garment postoperatively for the first few days to weeks. Some surgeons believe this assists in proper adherence of the tissues for a more compact appearance, while others believe it's not necessary. Discuss this with your surgeon.

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Is it quite painful? Is there much bruising?
It takes about a week and a half for most of the swelling to subside. There is really not too much bruising with average cases, although this will vary from individual to individual. Some doctors suggest arnica montana or bromelain, which can help decrease both bruising and swelling. You should take your prescribed pain medication to alleviate any pain or discomfort that you may experience.

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When will I be able to return to work?
Most patients return to work within 2 weeks. Most surgeons recommend that you do not bend over or exercise until after the third postoperative week.

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When will I be able to see the results?
After the swelling subsides you will begin to notice a difference in the compact appearance of your tissues. It is advised that you take before and after photos to fully appreciate the results as a gradual decrease in swelling. Don't get discouraged if the clothes you were wearing preoperatively don't fit right away due to swelling. It may take months for you to achieve the final results.

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What are the risks of liposuction?
Risks include negative anesthesia reactions, necrotic (dead) fat and tissues, and infection.. Patients have been known to receive actual burns from the ultrasonic technique. There may also be asymmetry, hyperpigmentation (permanent dark spots) from bruising, blood loss, hematomas,and pulmonary thromboemboli (blood clot that travels to the lungs), which can be fatal.

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