Liposuction is a procedure to improve the body's appearance by removing deposits of fat. Liposuction is not an alternative to weight loss by diet and exercise; instead, it removes pockets of fat that do not respond to these methods. Patients should be of near normal weight. Common areas for liposuction include thighs, buttocks, abdomen, hips and chin for women, and abdomen, chest, and chin for men.
PROCEDURE: One or several tiny incisions are made in areas such as the navel, lower abdomen, or fold under the buttocks. The incisions are placed to allow access to the pockets of fat being removed, while being as undetectable as possible. A hollow tube called a cannula is inserted into the incisions. The other end of the cannula is attached to a machine which creates suction. The surgeon moves the cannula around under the skin, breaking up the fat. In some cases, saline solution or ultrasound waves may help to break up the fat. The vacuum created in the cannula draws the fat out of the body.
Bruising: A significant amount of swelling and bruising accompanies liposuction. Patients are given a compression garment to help reduce the amount of swelling.
Infection: Infection is rare. If it occurs, it may be treated with topical or oral antibiotics, depending on the nature of the infection.
Fluid/electrolyte loss: Fluids and electrolytes (minerals such as salt) will need to be replaced following surgery. This is accomplished simply by drinking water or drinks designed to replace electrolytes.
Rippling/Bagginess of Skin: With the use of smaller and smaller cannulas, these results occur less
frequently. The compression garment also helps to reduce these risks. Skin that is tight before surgery should remain so afterward. However, small lumps often develop under the skin. This is normal, and they will disappear with time and gentle massage.
Pigmentation changes: Brown spots or other pigmentation changes may occur. Avoiding exposure to the sun until pigmentation has returned to normal and all bruising is gone should keep these changes from becoming permanent.
Anesthesia: Surgery may be performed under general anesthesia, so the patient is unconscious during surgery, or local anesthesia, so the site to be suctioned is numbed. If local anesthesia is used, the patient is often given a sedative, so that he is drowsy and calm, but awake. Often, the choice of anesthesia depends on the extent of the procedure to be performed.
AFTER SURGERY: The compression garment should be worn for several weeks after surgery, according to the doctor's instructions. In many cases, exercise clothing such as bike shorts may be worn after a while, instead of the garment. Stitches, if used, will be removed in 1-2 weeks. Patients may generally return to work in 2 days to 2 weeks after surgery, depending on the extent of the operation. As previously mentioned, the patient should expect a great deal of swelling and bruising after surgery. Some may even feel that they look worse after surgery than before. However, the bruising and swelling will improve over time, with a marked difference occurring within a month or two. All of the swelling may not subside, however, for six months or more. Results of surgery can be permanent, if a sensible diet and exercise regimen is maintained. If weight is gained after surgery, it will be more evenly distributed, instead of in the former "pockets," such as hips and thighs. The result of surgery should be a more proportional shape. Clothes should look and fit better. However, remember that liposuction will not result in dramatic weight loss.