Liposuction is a very common, popular procedure. It is designed for the permanent removal of fatty tissue, commonly referred to as “cellulite.” It is an elective procedure that allows the plastic surgeon to remove undesirable, subcutaneous fat in isolated areas that do not respond to diet and exercise. These areas include the hips, thighs, abdomen, knees, ankles, face and neck.
Liposuction is most successful in people with good skin tone who have fatty deposits. It is not a treatment for obesity. If weight gain occurs following liposuction, the fat will be deposited in areas that have not been treated. The procedure can be repeated, if necessary. To maintain the safety of the procedure, there is a limit on how much can be done at one time.
A variety of factors can affect the results: Physical condition, genetic makeup, diet, exercise, smoking, alcohol intake, and skin elasticity.
Body contours made irregular by fat can be improved by this procedure; it cannot correct contours that are irregular for other reasons, such as muscle weakness or hernia. However, combined with other procedures, liposuction can correct these other deformities with good results.
Liposuction is done under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis in a hospital or surgical center. The surgeon makes small (less than 1/2 inch), discreet incisions in the areas to be treated. A cannula is inserted in a small incision and attached to a suction machine. The procedure may take an hour or more, depending on how many areas are involved.
As with any surgical procedure, complications can occur. Cosmetic complications include contour irregularities, skin discoloration, asymmetry, scar tissue, tape burns, collection of blood or fluid under the skin. Uncommon complications include loss of sensation, skin breakdown, fat embolism, serious infection or shock. Bleeding does occur during liposuction. There is a limit to the amount of fat that can be safely removed in a given procedure.
Following liposuction, the scar will go through a maturation process—during the first 8-12 weeks they may be red and possibly raised. The scars will mature over 6-2 months and become pale, flat and soft. You may experience numbness, burning, tingling around the incision site. These symptoms are almost always temporary.
After Surgery: What to Expect
Recovery from liposuction is relatively easy. Expect a fair amount of swelling and bruising in the following two weeks. You will wear special garments provided to apply pressure, minimize swelling and provide support while healing. These garments also assist in retraction of the skin. Stitches will be removed in a week to 10 days.
Results are recognizable almost immediately and will continue to improve as swelling subsides. The day after surgery you should be up and walking around. Increase your activity daily until full activity is resumed at 2-4 weeks. You will be ready to return to office work in 3-5 days and more active employment at 10-14 days. Avoid the sun until all bruising has subsided. A sunscreen should be used routinely; it is easy to get sunburned during recovery because of decreased sensation.
The results of liposuction are permanent. If you were to gain a large amount of weight you might note rippling in the treated areas, depending on your skin elasticity.