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Liposuction

 

In today’s world, looking and feeling good mean having a fit, well-proportioned body. However, for many people, this may seem like an unreachable goal. Sometimes even a strict diet or a disciplined exercise program can’t conquer stubborn areas of excess fat. For those who seek a smoother or better-proportioned body contour, liposuction may be the answer.

Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes deposits of excess fat from specific areas of the body, face or neck. Liposuction can be used to slim the hips and thighs, flatten the abdomen, shape the calves and ankles or eliminate a double chin.

You’ll find basic information about liposuction in this brochure. However, the best way to get complete answers to specific questions that relate to your individual needs is to have a personal consultation with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

 

Is liposuction right for me?

Liposuction is most commonly recommended for men and women of normal weight who simply want to improve their body contour. The procedure can produce excellent results for people who have deposits of excess fat that make certain body areas appear disporportionately large. Although liposuction is not a treatment for obesity, it can permanently alter body proportion and is sometimes the only way to eliminate fat deposits that do not respond to diet and exercise.

People of almost any age may undergo liposuction; however, patients with good skin elasticity will achieve the smoothest contour after fat is removed. You may be a good candidate for liposuction if you desire fat removal or contouring in any of following areas:

Cheeks, chin, and neck

Upper arms

Breast or chest area

Back

Abdomen and waist

Hips and buttocks

Thighs

Inner knee

Calves and ankles

It’s important to be clear about a few "cans and can’ts" related to liposuction.

Liposuction can…

-be performed on several areas of the body at the same time or be done in conjunction with other cosmetic surgery procedures, as long as you understand that there is increased risk and your surgeon feels that having multiple procedures is a safe option for you.

-be used to treat some cases of gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, which occurs in both teenagers and adult men.

 

Liposuction can’t…

Serve as a substitute for dieting and exercise.

Effectively treat cellulite (a condition that gives the skin a dimpled appearance).

Also, certain medical conditions may complicate liposuction. They include: diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease and previous surgery near the area to be contoured. It’s important to let your plastic surgeon know if you have any of these medical conditions or if you have had surgery in the past.

 

What should I expect from the consultation?

A personal consultation is the first step for every patient considering liposuction. During this meeting, your surgeon will assess your physical and emotional health and discuss your specific cosmetic goals for the procedure. You should arrive at the consultation ready to provide complete information about:

 

Previous surgical procedures

Past and present medical conditions

Medications you are taking, including herbal remedies or nutritional supplements

Depending on the parts of your body that you would like to be treated with liposuction, you may be asked to undress. Your surgeon will fully assess the extent of correction needed. You’ll also be asked to point out the exact areas where you would like to see improvement. Your surgeon will check the elasticity of your skin and may feel certain areas to assess the thickness of the underlying layer of fat. Your surgeon will also check your blood pressure and weight, ask you if you are planning to lose or gain weight in the future.

 

How is liposuction performed?

To perform liposuction, one or more small incisions are made near the area to be suctioned. Whenever possible, incisions are placed within the natural folds or contour lines of the skin so that they are inconspicuous. The surgeon then places a slim, hollow tube called a cannula through the incision so that its tip penetrates the underlying fat. After the cannula is connected by flexible tubing to a suction pump, the surgeon moves the cannula back and forth through the fat, which is vacuumed into the tube. Several variations to the basic liposuction technique have been introduced. The fat-removal technique that best meets your needs depends on a number of individual factors that your surgeon will discuss with you.

Your surgeon may use the tumescent technique, in which the fat is pre-injected with a salt-water solution containing small amounts of adrenaline and sometimes local anesthetic.

Your surgeon may also use ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty or UAL, a two-step technique that uses that energy from sound waves to liquefy that fat before it is suctioned.

The type of instrumentation used may also vary. For some areas, a hand-held syringe may be used to provide the vacuum instead of a suction pump.

 

How will I learn about the safety of liposuction

Each year thousands of people undergo liposuction and experience no major complications. However, you must fully understand the risks as well as the benefits of the procedure.

One of the most important parts of your consultation is the discussion that you and your surgeon will have about the possible complications of liposuction. In addition to listening carefully to what your surgeon tells you, be sure to raise any questions or concerns that you may have about the safety of the procedure.

By carefully following your surgeon’s advice and instructions- both before and after surgery- you can do your part to minimize some of the risks.

 

What can I do to prepare for my surgery?

When the date for your surgery has been set, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions for the days immediately before and after your surgery. A number of points may be covered, including:

Avoiding certain medications that may complicate surgery or recovery

Stopping smoking for a period of time before and after surgery

Arranging for help or special care following surgery

How will I be cared for the day of my surgery?

Liposuction may be performed in a hospital, an outpatient surgery center or an office-based surgical suite.

Various types of anesthesia can be used for liposuction. Your surgeon will select the type of anesthesia that provides that safest and most effective level of comfort for your procedure. For some patients, local anesthesia is used (usually with sedation) which numbs only the affected areas. For others, regional anesthesia, such as an epidural block (the kind of anesthesia commonly used in childbirth) or general anesthesia may be the best choice.

Your physical status will be closely monitored throughout the procedure and during your recovery.

How will I look and feel after surgery?

When the procedure is complete, you will be taken to a recovery area. For some patients, small drainage tubes will have been placed beneath the skin. Any discomfort you may feel can be controlled with medication prescribed by your plastic surgeon. An elastic bandage or specially designed compression garment may have been applied over the treated areas to control swelling and assist healing. Your plastic surgeon will tell you how long you must wear the garment and how can remove it to bathe.

If only a small amount of liposuction has been done, you will be encouraged to get out of bed very shortly after the surgery. If multiple areas have been treated, you will probably remain in bed for a day or two, getting up to go to the bathroom and for meals.

Keep in mind that the speed of your recovery depends largely on the extent of your surgery. Although everyone heals at a different rate, you can expect that your recovery will follow this general time line:

Within the first week

The swelling will reach its peak and then begin to subside.

Your stitches will be removed.

You may return to nonstrenuous work.

After several weeks

Bruises will fade and eventually disappear.

Areas that felt numb will regain normal sensation.

You may resume most of your normal exercise and activities.

Swelling will continue to subside.

 

What should I know about my results?

Quite soon after surgery you will see a noticeable difference in the shape of your body. However, improvement will become even more apparent after a couple of months, when fluid retention and swelling have subsided. For most patients, the final result is evident after about three months.

After your liposuction surgery, you may notice that clothes fit more comfortably and you feel more confident about your appearance. As long as you maintain your postoperative weight, your new, slimmer contour will be permanent. Many patients who gain a few pounds after surgery find that the weight distributes itself more evenly and does not settle in the same "problem areas."

How long will I continue to see my plastic surgeon?

After the initial healing period, you will return to your plastic surgeon’s office for a postoperative follow-up visit so that your progress can be evaluated. In the following months, your surgeon may ask you to return for periodic checkups. It’s important to keep these appointments so that your surgeon can assess your long-term results and address any questions or concerns you may have.

Choosing a qualified surgeon

No matter what type of plastic surgery you’re considering, one of the most important factors in its success is the surgeon you choose. Although it may seem hard to believe, some of the physicians who are performing cosmetic surgery today have had no formal surgical training at all.

 

It’s advisable to consider the following points before scheduling a consultation:

Find out if he or she has been certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Surgeons with this certification have completed a minimum of five years of surgical training following medical school, including a plastic surgery residency program. During this intensive program, surgeons learn to perform surgical procedures for the entire body and face. At the same time, they develop their technical skill and aesthetic judgement. After training, a surgeon must pass comprehensive oral and written exams before being granted certification. The two organizations that have prepared this brochure, the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, require their members to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

 

Ask about the surgeon’s hospital privileges

Even if you are planning to have your surgery in you doctor’s office or at a surgery center, it is important to find out if your surgeon has operating privileges in an accredited hospital for the same procedure you would like to have performed. Before granting privileges, hospital review committees evaluate a surgeon’s training and competency for specific procedures.

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