Liposuction is a surgical procedure that is performed using a suction technique to remove unwanted fat. The procedure can be done on various parts of the body such as hips, belly, thighs, buttocks, back, arms, or face. Sometimes liposuction is done in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures such as facelifts, breast reductions, and tummy tucks.It can be done as an outpatient surgery, and usually general anesthesia is administered.
Liposuction is not a weight-loss method. It is more geared for removing the difficult-to-get-rid-of fatty areas that exercise and diet have not been able to remedy. Also, liposuction is not a remedy for cellulite, it does not improve the dimpling or other skin surface irregularities, nor does it remove stretch marks.
Based on your treatment goals, and other health history or concerns, the appropriate technique will be selected. There are several types of liposuction techniques:
Tumescent liposuction. This is the most common type of liposuction. The surgeon injects a sterile solution — a mixture of salt water, which aids fat removal, an anesthetic (lidocaine) to relieve pain and a drug (epinephrine) that causes the blood vessels to constrict — into the area that's being treated. The fluid mixture causes the affected area to swell and stiffen.
The surgeon then makes small cuts into your skin and inserts a thin tube called a cannula under your skin. The cannula is connected to a vacuum that suctions fat and fluids from your body. Your body fluid may be replenished through an intravenous (IV) line.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL). This type of liposuction is sometimes used in conjunction with traditional liposuction. During UAL, the surgeon inserts a metal rod that emits ultrasonic energy under your skin. This ruptures the fat-cell walls and breaks down the fat for easier removal.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL). This type of liposuction uses a cannula that moves in a rapid back-and-forth motion. This vibration allows the surgeon to pull out tough fat more easily and faster. PAL may sometimes cause less pain and swelling and can allow the surgeon to remove fat with more precision. Your surgeon may select this technique if large volumes of fat need to be removed or if you've had a previous liposuction procedure.
During the procedure
Some liposuction procedures may require only local or regional anesthesia — anesthesia limited to a specific area of your body. Other procedures may require general anesthesia, which induces a temporary state of unconsciousness. You may be given a sedative, typically through an IV injection, to help you remain calm and relaxed.
The surgical team will monitor your heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen level throughout the procedure. If you are given local anesthesia and feel pain during the procedure, tell your surgeon. The medication or motions may need adjustment.
The procedure may last up to several hours, depending on the extent of fat removal.
If you've had general anesthesia, you'll wake in a recovery room. You'll typically spend at least a few hours in the hospital or clinic so that medical personnel can monitor your recovery. If you're in a hospital, you may stay overnight to make sure that you're not dehydrated or in shock from fluid loss.
Associated Risks and Side Effects of Liposuction
- Contour irregularities. fat removal may be uneven and leave lumpy surfaces.
- Damage beneath the skin from the thin tube (cannula)
- Fluid accumulation. Pockets of fluid can form under the skin. This fluid may need to be drained with a needle.
- Nerve Irritation/ pain