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Alternative Names Return to topFat removal - suctioning
Definition Return to top
Liposuction is the removal of excess body fat by suction using special surgical equipment. A plastic surgeon typically does the surgery.
Description Return to top
Liposuction is a popular type of cosmetic surgery. It removes unwanted deposits of excess fat, to improve body appearance and to smooth irregular or distorted body shapes. The procedure is sometimes called body contouring.
Liposuction may be useful for contouring under the chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankle areas.
However, liposuction is a serious surgical procedure and may involve a painful recovery. Because liposuction can have serious or occasionally fatal complications, you should carefully think about your decision to have this surgery.
Before your surgery, you will have an initial patient consultation, which will include a history, physical exam, and a psychological evaluation. You may need to bring someone (such as your spouse) with you during the visit. You may need a second consultation to give you time to think over the surgery.
You should feel free to ask questions, and to feel satisfied with the answers to those questions. A properly informed person makes a better patient. You must understand fully the pre-operative preparations, the liposuction procedure, and the post-operative care. Understand that liposuction may enhance your appearance and self-confidence, but it will probably not give you your ideal body.
Several different liposuction procedures exist:
Before the day of surgery you may have blood drawn and be asked to provide a urine sample. This allows the health care provider to rule out potential complications. If you are not hospitalized, you will need a ride home after the surgery.
A liposuction machine and special instruments are used for this surgery. The surgical team first preps the operative site and administers either local or general anesthesia. Through a small skin incision, a suction tube with a sharp end is inserted into the fat pockets and swept through the area where fat is to be removed. The dislodged fat is "vacuumed" away through the suction tube. A vacuum pump or a large syringe provides the suction action. Several skin punctures may be needed to treat large areas.
After the fat is removed, small drainage tubes may be inserted into the defatted areas to remove blood and fluid that gather during the first few days after surgery. If you lose a lot of fluid or blood during the surgery, you may meed fluid replacement (intravenously) or a blood transfusion.
After the surgery, bandages are applied to keep pressure on the area and stop any bleeding, as well as to help maintain shape. Bandages are usually kept in place for at least 2 weeks. Your doctor may call you from time to time to check on your health and to monitor your healing. A visit back to the surgeon after 5-7 days is often recommended. Sometimes people gain weight after liposuction. This is due to the increased fluid from surgery.
Liposuction may or may not require a hospital stay, depending on the location and extent of surgery. Liposuction can be done in an office-based facility, in a surgery center on an outpatient basis, or in a hospital. For reasons of cost and convenience, liposuction of smaller volumes is usually done as an outpatient. You may need to stay in a hospital if a larger volume of fat is being removed, or if you are having other procedures done at the same time.
Why the Procedure is Performed Return to top
The following are some of the uses for liposuction:
Liposuction is generally NOT appropriate for these uses:
Many alternatives to liposuction exist, including a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), removal of fatty tumors (lipomas), breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty), or a combination of plastic surgery approaches.
Risks Return to top
Certain pre-existing conditions should be checked and brought under control before liposuction, including:
There are also risks associated with liposuction, including:
Finally, make sure to review and sign any informed consent (legal) and permission forms for photographs.
After the Procedure Return to top
Most informed patients are satisfied with the cosmetic result of their surgery. Informed patients understand that there are limits to what liposuction can accomplish.
If you are having a large amount of fat removed, or you are being put to sleep (general anesthesia) for the procedure, you should expect to be admitted to the hospital. If you are having a smaller amount of fat removed with just the area numbed (local anesthesia), you may be able to have it done on an outpatient, same-day basis, as long as the office has the proper equipment and oxygen on hand.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
The liposuctioned area may appear larger than before surgery because of swelling. You must wear a tight stocking, girdle, or snug elastic dressing over the treated area to reduce swelling and bleeding, and to help shrink the skin to fit the new contour. You should wear this garment continuously for 2 to 3 weeks.
You will likely have swelling, bruising, numbness, and pain, but it can be managed with medications. The stitches will be removed in 5 to 10 days. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection.
You may feel sensations such as numbness or tingling, as well as pain, for weeks after the surgery. Walk as soon after surgery as possible to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. Avoid more strenuous exercise for about a month after the surgery.
You will start to feel better after about 1 or 2 weeks following liposuction surgery. You may return to work within a few days of the surgery. Bruising and swelling usually go away within three weeks; however, you may still have some swelling several months later.
Your doctor will check your progress through follow-up visits. If you have any questions or problems between office visits, call your doctor. Your new body shape will begin to emerge in the first couple of weeks; however, the improvement won't become more visible until about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. By exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, you can help maintain your new shape.Update Date: 5/3/2007 Updated by: Robert A. Cowles, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.