Liposuction continues to be one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. It also has one of the highest satisfaction ratings as it is effective in helping patients achieve their aesthetic goals.
It has proven to be an effective intervention against fat deposits that are difficult to shift with healthy eating and exercise alone. Even if you are at or around your ideal weight, you might still have a layer of fat on your stomach, arms, or buttocks. With liposuction, you have access to a cosmetic surgery treatment that can effectively treat many different areas of the body and get rid of those fatty deposits forever.
What is liposuction?
It is a surgical procedure that uses suction to remove fat from specific treatment areas of the body, often the hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks, arms, and neck. In addition to removing fat, it also helps to shape and contour the area, which is why it is sometimes called lipoplasty or body contouring.
It is not a method for losing weight, nor is it considered to be an alternative to weight-loss. Dieting, exercise, or gastric bypass surgery are likely to be far more effective methods if that is your goal. Instead, liposuction is used when you have the accumulation of too much body fat in a specific area but are otherwise at or close to your ideal body weight. In general, you will be a good candidate if you follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly, but are struggling to shift stubborn fat deposits.
Liposuction removes fat cells, and therefore liposuction surgery will reduce the number of fat cells in a specific area. Your surgeon will determine the amount of fat to be removed based on your goals, the appearance of the area, and the volume of fat to be removed. The changes are permanent, as long as you are able to keep your weight stable.
After the surgery, your skin will mold to the new areas smoothly if you have good skin elasticity and tone. For patients with thin skin and poor elasticity, the treated areas may appear loose and may require additional tucking surgery. Liposuction doesn’t help with cellulite or stretch marks.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Liposuction Surgery
Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions About Liposuction in Birmingham, AL
What are the different types of liposuction?
There are several different types of liposuction, and your surgeon will determine the best option based on your needs.
Tumescent liposuction is the most common form of liposuction where the surgeon injects a solution of saltwater, anesthetic, and epinephrine, a drug that causes the blood vessels to constrict. The saltwater aids in fat removal and the anesthetic (usually lidocaine) relieves pain. The combination causes the treated area to swell and stiffen. From there, the surgeon can make small cuts into the skin and insert a cannula (a thin tube) under the skin. The cannula is connected to a vacuum that suctions the fat from the body. As body fluids are also suctioned, you will be connected to an intravenous line to replenish your fluid levels.
Variations on tumescent liposuction include:
What areas can be treated with liposuction?
Liposuction removes fat from areas of the body where consistent exercise and a healthy diet haven’t been able to bring about the desired results, such as the:
What should you expect from the procedure?
The procedure itself should not be painful, as it is usually done under general anesthetic, but recovery post-surgery can be painful due to the swelling and bruising. On the day of the procedure, you will need to be driven to the out-patient facility for pre-operation photos and to have the target areas mapped out on your body.
You will then be prepared for surgery, with an IV line to regulate your fluid levels and a monitor to track your oxygen levels, blood pressure, and heart rate. An anesthetic will be administered, either general or local (with intravenous sedation), depending on which is the best option for you.
The procedure for removing the fat starts with a small incision that is made, generally in natural body creases, to reduce visible scarring. And the fat is prepared for suctioning, using one of the various liposuction techniques. The fat is then suctioned through cannulas (narrow, hollow tubes) that are inserted through the incisions. The cannulas then move back and forth to loosen and suction fat, which is drained from the body through the tubes.
Once all the fat has been removed, the incisions will be closed with surgical sutures. If there is excess fluid, small tubes will be placed at the incision sites.
Who is a good candidate?
If you are at or close to your ideal weight but are struggling to shift stubborn areas of fat through diet or exercise, you can benefit from liposuction.
You should be a non-smoker in good health, with good muscle tone and skin elasticity. Patients with loose hanging skin due to significant weight loss may not be ideal candidates as liposuction can worsen the problem.
How long does recovery take?
After the surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area and fitted with a compression garment to control swelling and encourage your skin to conform to your new contours. After a few hours, you will be able to return home unless there are reasons for staying at the hospital overnight. You will need someone to drive you home and to stay with you in case you need assistance for the following 24 hours.
Your doctor will prescribe pain medication, although over-the-counter pain relief will usually suffice. You should expect bruising and swelling, and the treated area might feel firm to the touch as a result of the swelling. This will resolve within six weeks. As the swelling goes down, there may be some lumpy areas which will improve over time but can be further improved by wearing a compression garment. If your doctor recommends a compression garment, you will need to wear it for two weeks, 24/7, and the hours will be gradually reduced over the next month.
If you have a non-strenuous desk job, you can return to work within a week, but if you have a physical job, you will need to take off two to three weeks. The amount of time off will depend on the extent of your procedure, the areas that have been treated, and how quickly your body heals. Exercise should also be avoided for the first month, and most people are able to return to their normal daily routines after three to four weeks. Your journey to recovery will be impacted by the techniques used, your health, and the areas that have been treated. If you notice any pain, especially if it increases, contact your doctor immediately.
How long until you see results?
It many cases, it is possible to see immediate improvements to your contours, but the swelling will mean that you won’t see the full results for the next few months.
It’s going to take at least a month, often up to three, before you will see the full results of the procedure as there is usually significant swelling and bruising after the surgery. Bruising will typically fade after two to four weeks, but swelling can last as long as six months. Modern liposuction techniques mean that the incisions made will quickly fade and become close to undetectable, thus making it possible to achieve a streamlined, well-proportioned body contour.
If you are considering a liposuction revision to correct irregularities or if you want more noticeable results, you’ll need to wait at least six months before consulting with your surgeon.
How long does liposuction last?
Liposuction results last for many years if you are able to maintain your post-liposuction weight. Unfortunately, weight gain increases the size of the remaining fat cells, which will mean that the results won’t last, and significant weight gain can even result in the development of new fat cells. But, the area will still look better than it did before the surgery, and shape change benefits are still retained.
Exercise is important for maintaining the ideal weight, and it is important to guard against a false sense of confidence following the improvements of liposuction. This is especially true for the recovery time immediately after the surgery when exercise is not possible.
How much does liposuction cost?
The total cost of your liposuction surgery will depend on the number of areas that need to be treated as well as the technique that your surgeon uses. Your choice of cosmetic surgeon will also have an impact on the final cost as skills, qualifications, experience, geographic location, and reputation all play a role in determining the costs.
You expect to pay around $4,000 for liposuction per treatment areas, and will still need to factor in anesthetic fees and hospital costs along with medication and after-care expenses.
Can liposuction be combined with other surgery?
Liposuction may be used to improve the body’s proportions and is therefore often combined with breast augmentation or breast lift surgery. For patients with loose and sagging skin along with excess fat, liposuction may be performed along with a tummy tuck.
What are the alternatives to liposuction surgery?
Nonsurgical alternatives to liposuction include:
Other options include Kybella, Liposonix, Ultrashape, and Vanquish.
The results from these alternatives are not as dramatic as liposuction, offering a 25% reduction in fat in the treated areas. They are ideal for patients who are happy with their current body weight but want to reduce fat deposits in areas that are difficult to tone.
It is important to choose a board-certified cosmetic surgeon in Birmingham, AL who specializes in liposuction surgery.