Liposuction is an extremely common cosmetic procedure for both men and women and involves the removal of unwanted fat by means of a suction device.
It is generally used to remove stubborn areas of fat that are not responding to either diet or exercise. It is not however considered a treatment for obesity. Most areas of the body can be treated, with thighs and hips the most common for women and stomach and male breasts for men.
The procedure: Liposuction:
Whether the procedure is carried out using a general or local anaesthetic depends on the extent of the procedure being carried out. If you are having liposuction on multiple areas of your body and the amount of fat to be removed is high, then a general anaesthetic is more likely to be required. The procedure can take anywhere between 1 – 4 hours depending on the extent of the treatment.
The procedure: Liposuction:
- The surgeon makes a tiny cut in the skin where the fat is to be removed and inserts a Cannula (hollow metal tube) which is manipulated to break up the fat cells.
- The fat is then sucked out using a vacuum device at the opposite end of the Cannula.
- As well as the fat, fluid is also removed during the process and so it is important that the surgeon replaces this loss of fluid back into your body.
The main liposuction techniques are as follows:
- Tumescent technique: This is a longer procedure than traditional liposuction and involves injecting a solution containing an anaesthetic agent, salt solution and a Vaso-constrictor (contracts blood vessels) into the fatty area. This aids fat removal and helps minimise bruising and bleeding.
- Ultra Sound assisted Lipoplasty (UAL): A special Cannula that produces ultra sound is used to aid fat removal. This technique is most effective for male breast tissue and the upper back.
Recovery Period: Liposuction
- Immediately following surgery there will be swelling, possible bleeding and potentially some weight gain. Discomfort levels range from mild to moderate and your surgeon will normally manage this with pain relief medication.
- Stitches will be removed or naturally dissolved 5 – 10 days after surgery.
- Most people are back to work within 2 weeks but this will vary depending on how physically demanding your job is.
- You can normally return to strenuous activity about 4 weeks after the surgery.
- You will have to wear a support garment for up to 6 weeks for 24 hours a day to help your body stay in its new shape.
- As the swelling resolves it tends to settle in lower parts of the body meaning knees, ankles and genitalia may be temporarily swollen.
- It will be 2 – 3 months before the full effects of your surgery will be visible due to the swelling.
Your surgeon may well ask you to refrain from drinking alcohol and smoking both before and after surgery as it can contribute to poor blood circulation and fluid retention.
Like with all surgeries, recovery times differ from one patient to the next and closely following the surgeons post operation instructions will generally lead to a quicker recovery period.
The risks: Liposuction:
- Risk of Infection in the treated area.
- Fluid accumulation which would need removing.
- Discolouration of skin in the area of liposuction. This is uncommon and generally resolves by itself.
- Fat embolus: A clot formed from a collection of fat during or after liposuction may travel through the circulatory system and lodge in the lungs, thereby interfering with breathing. The risk is less than 1 in 10,000, and is prevented by using smaller Cannula.