Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery employed to remove excess fat from body parts. It is also called lipoplasty, suction lipectomy, liposculpture or fat suction.
Generally the fat is removed from thighs, chin, buttocks, lovehandles (abdomen), breasts and stomach for women and chin, waist, breasts and buttocks for men.
This surgical procedure is not an alternative to exercise and dieting and should be used only to remove the stubborn fat that does not respond to exercises and diet.
Liposuction is not a weight loss method but a method to remove excess fat. 10-15 pounds of fat is removed generally. However, taking out of large amounts of fat can be dangerous at times.
There are many types of liposuction performed today like traditional liposuction, tumescent liposuction, ultrasound liposuction, superwet liposuction. All these methods employ a cannula (a blunt straw like tube) for suction of fat.
Saline water is injected into the space between muscle and fat to separate them. If the amount of saline water is less than the amount of fat to be removed it is called traditional liposuction.
If the saline water is 3 to 4 times the volume of fat to be removed it is called tumescent liposuction. Adding extra water assists the surgeon in moving the cannula back and forth to break up the fat cells. However excess water may affect the homeostasis of the body. In super wet liposuction the amount of saline water is the same as the amount of fat to be removed. This is the most popular surgical method used by surgeons.
In ultrasonic liposuction the fat is initially liquefied by ultrasound before being suctioned out. However, ultrasound methods are not popular as they sometime lead to necrosis (death of skin) and seromas (collection of yellow fluid in pockets).
In all types of liposuction either local anesthesia or general anesthesia is used. The usual anesthetic used is lidocaine. Epinephrine is also used in liposuction to reduce blood loss.
To perform liposuction the patient must be over 18 and in good health with elastic skin. If the skin is not sufficiently elastic the excess skin may have to be removed after liposuction. Generally the excess skin is removed from abdomen called abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. This leaves scar marks on the skin.
Diabetics and patients on antibiotics are advised not to undergo liposuction. Before operation the patient should not have taken any anticoagulants like warfarin, phenindione etc.
If general anesthesia is given the patient has to fast on the night before the operation. If local anesthesia is given there is no requirement of fasting. Smoking and drinking etc should be avoided.
The incisions are usually less than an inch. After operation the excess fluid takes days to weeks to drain out. During that time antibiotics and/or pain killers are prescribed.
Patient recovery varies from days to 2 months. As with all surgeries there are surgical risks in liposuction too. There are minor risk, up to 0.7%, of side effects like internal organs being scraped, seromas, necrosis, excessive bleeding etc.
Liposuction is not a weight loss method and the patient should expect realistic and not dramatic changes in appearance.