What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure that uses suction to remove fat from specific treatment areas of the body, such as 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.Schedule online
Liposuction 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 near 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
- Enhances body contours by reducing problematic fatty areas
- Helps men suffering from gynecomastia by removing the fatty breast tissue
- Offers long-lasting results as long as the patient maintains their weight following the procedure
- Health benefits due to fat reduction mean less stress on the body’s systems and organs
- Immediate results and swelling resolves within a few weeks
- Improves well-being and confidence by restoring proportions and contours
- Downtime is around two weeks and comes with significant swelling, bruising, and pain.
- You may develop permanent contour irregularities where the skin appears bumpy or dimpled if the fat is removed unevenly, or if you have poor skin elasticity
- Liposuction is the permanent removal of fat cells, but if you gain weight, the remaining fat cells can expand, or new ones can form
- Fluid accumulation and pockets of fluid may form under the skin which will need to be drained with a needle
- Kidney and heart problems caused by fluid that is injected and suctioned out, it can impact your kidney, lung, and heart
- Lidocaine toxicity can affect your heart and nervous system, but it is rare
Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions About Liposuction in ALAsk a question
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 sterile saline, 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.
Variations on tumescent liposuction include:
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): Often used in conjunction with traditional liposuction, UAL involves using a cannula that emits ultrasonic energy. The energy ruptures the walls of your fat cells ad breaks down the fat, making it easier to remove.
- VASER Lipo: A more modern variation of UAL, which evenly disperses the ultrasonic energy through a grooved cannula and probe, reducing injury to the skin.
- Laser-Assisted Liposuction (LAL): Uses a high-intensity laser to break down fat before it is removed. The laser fiber is interested into the skin through a small incision and used to emulsify fat deposits, which are then removed using a cannula. This includes SmartLipo that used low-energy waves to liquefy fat. This won’t be used if the fat is to be transferred to another area of the body (such as a Brazilian butt lift).
- Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL): This type of liposuction uses a cannula that vibrates back and forth rapidly, allowing the surgeon to move hard-to-shift fat quickly and easily. It may cause less pain swelling and allows the surgeon to operate with a greater degree of precision. It is often used if there are large volumes of fat that need to be removed, or if you have had a liposuction procedure in the past.
- Vibration-Assisted Liposuction (VAL): Sometimes called Vibro lipo, uses vibration to break up the fat cells for easier removal as well as evening out the remaining fat to prevent lumps and dimpling.
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:
- Buttocks: Fat is desirable in the posterior region, but the removal of excess fat can reduce dimpling, and restore balanced proportionality to the figure.
- Waist: Often called love handles, this is a common area for liposuction when diet and exercise fail. It offers excellent results and contouring, especially if the patient has good skin elasticity.
- Upper arms: Saggy upper arms are more common in women (although it can affect men, as well), and becomes more pronounced as women age. Even if you are at your ideal weight, you can still have ‘batwings’ which can be resolved by liposuction to smooth and tighten the area.
- Stomach: The abdomen is divided into the upper and lower regions which are often treated separately. The lower region gives the ‘muffin top’ appearance, and the upper area (between your ribs and belly button) may have a layer of fat that is difficult to shift. In both cases, liposuction offers a slimmer, more streamlined profile.
- Hips: This is an important part of a sleek silhouette but may be prone to the accumulation of fat deposits. Liposuction can help to define the area and may improve the proportions of the buttocks.
- Back: Liposuction can address back rolls, giving the back a slimmer appearance and allowing clothes and underwear to sit more comfortably and attractively.
- Face: If you have access cheek or neck fat, liposuction has proven effective at slimming and contouring and is often used alongside other cosmetic procedures.
- Thighs: This area can be separated into three different sections, the outer thigh (saddlebags), inner thigh, and anterior thigh. Liposuction offers benefits for all three areas, which are often treated together.
- Chest: This is more common for men than women, especially for those who suffer from gynecomastia (swelling of the breast tissue) or in older men where a loss of muscle mass can benefit from liposuction for removing excess accumulated fat. In some cases, liposuction is also used for breast reduction in women.
- Lower Legs: Although less common, lower leg liposuction can effectively reshape the area for a slimmer profile.
What should you expect from the procedure?
The procedure itself should not be painful, as it is usually done under general anesthesia, 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 near 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. This means 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:
- CoolSculpting®: This intervention is effective in treating localized trouble spots and is commonly used to treat upper arms, abdomen, thighs, and hips. The treatment utilizes a specialized device to freeze unwanted fat cells without affecting other surrounding tissues. These dead fat cells are then eliminated from the body over the next few weeks for a final result that is visible after three months.
- TruSculpt®: Radiofrequency technology is used to eliminate fat cells and is often used to target fat deposits on the thighs, buttocks, hips, and abdomen. This is a short treatment and usually requires a few sessions to see results.
- Zerona®: You’ll notice faster results with this cold laser that targets superficial fat cells. The technology disrupts the cell’s ability to store fat, which leaks out and is flushed from the body, and reduces the size of the fat cell.
- WarmSculpting®: This uses SculptSure’s diode-laser energy to create heat that kills fat cells. It’s painless and allows for the treatment of multiple areas at the same time. It’s affordable, has very few side effects and no downtime. Most patients require two or more sessions, and it can take up to three months to see the full effects.
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 AL who specializes in liposuction surgery.
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