Liposuction is the most common cosmetic surgery procedure performed in the United States. Liposuction is a technique used to improve a person's body contour by removing unwanted fat deposits from specific areas of the body, including the chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankles. Liposuction is not a substitute for weight reduction, but a method of removing localized fat that does not respond to dieting and exercise. These fat cells are permanently removed.
The Preoperative visit
Consultation for liposuction consists of a thorough discussion of the patient's expectations and concerns. An extensive evaluation of the patient's body contour and skin, including photographs, will be performed. The available surgical options and Dr. Soltanian’s recommendations will be reviewed, including the limitations and risks of surgery. Liposuction may be performed in conjunction with other procedures such as a "tummy tuck".
Liposuction can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal. The best candidates for liposuction are of relatively normal weight but have pockets of excess fat in certain areas. You should be physically healthy and realistic in your expectations. Most important, having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final contour. Hanging skin won't reshape to your body's new contours, and may require an additional procedure to surgically remove the excess skin. You should also understand that liposuction by itself will not improve dimpled skin known as cellulite.
Traditional liposuction involves the removal of unwanted fatty deposits with the help of a cannula which mechanically breaks up the fat as it is suctioned. At Specialties of Plastic Surgery, we also use PAL (Power Assisted Liposuction). This method allows for more efficient liposculpting and decreases the length of anesthesia.
Liposuction is most commonly performed on an outpatient basis. The type of anesthesia used depends on the complexity of the procedure. Liposuction is normally a very safe procedure. All procedures are performed using the tumescent technique in order to limit postoperative bruising, swelling and pain. The tumescent technique involves injecting areas of excess fat with a large amount of anesthetic liquid before liposuction is performed. The liquid causes the compartments of fat to become swollen and firm. The expanded fat compartments allow the liposuction cannula to travel smoothly beneath the skin as the fat is removed. Small incisions are used to gain access to the areas of unwanted fat. Dissolvable sutures are primarily used and scarring is rare.
Post-operatively, patients are required to wear a compression garment for a period of time to help with healing and limit swelling. Healing is a gradual process. Suctioned areas may be bruised for a few weeks after surgery. While most of the swelling will be gone a month or two after surgery, some swelling can remain for six months or more. Patients may start walking around as soon as possible, but should avoid more strenuous activity for two to four weeks. Patients are usually able to return to work as soon as the discomfort is subsided (in some cases within few days).
In select cases a "touchup" procedure may be needed. The results of liposuction are permanent provided patients eat sensibly and exercise regularly. If the patient gains weight, he/she will probably gain it more uniformly throughout the body, not just in the former "bulges”. The suctioned fatty cells are permanently removed.