Liposuction can give you a sleeker silhouette by getting rid of those unwanted lumps and bumps that resist diet and exercise. It involves suctioning-out stubborn, excess fat deposits through a small tube. Common areas for liposuction in women are the neck, upper arms, hips, buttocks, abdomen, and thighs. In men, it's often used on the chest, abdomen, or flanks ("love handles").
Liposuction generally requires that your skin has some resiliency and can tighten after surgery. In cases where there's also a lot of loose skin, liposuction may need to be combined with other procedures such as abdominoplasty, breast reduction, gynecomastia correction, or facelift.
Liposuction can be done in both men and women. The best candidates are those who:
Liposuction is not a substitute for proper diet and exercise and a significant fluctuation in weight after surgery can reduce the benefits of the surgery. If you are planning further weight loss or plan to have children in the near future, it’s best to wait to have liposuction. You must also be emotionally mature, understand your motivations for having this procedure, and have realistic expectations about what the surgery can achieve. You should have no major medical problems and ideally you should not smoke as nonsmokers heal faster and have less risks of any surgery.
During your consultation, your surgeon will discuss with you your areas of concern and the results you want from liposuction. After a careful examination, your surgeon will advise you on what procedure(s) will lead to results that best fit your expectations. If you have a lot of hanging or loose skin, this may include other procedures in addition to liposuction.
General anaesthetic for large areas or local anaesthetic for small area (e.g. neck)
Day surgery time 30 min - 4 hours
Recovery room up to 2 hours
May resume simple activities within a couple days.
Return to work 1 week - 1 month
The surgery is done under general anaesthetic and is performed as a day-care surgery, which means you can go home the same day. The length of surgery depends on the extent of liposuction to be performed. The procedure is done through incisions less than a centimeter in length and scars are often hidden in natural skin creases (e.g. groin). The two most common techniques are suction-assisted liposuction and ultrasound-assisted liposuction. The decision for which is done often depends on surgeon preference and the extent of the liposuction.
In suction-assisted liposuction, a special fluid solution (tumescent fluid) is first injected or infiltrated into the fat. This fluid helps to liquefy the fat cells so they can be more easily suctioned out with a small cannula (tube). The fluid also helps to decrease bruising after surgery and has a local anesthetic in it to minimize discomfort. Following the tumescent fluid injection, the liquefied fat is suction out with a small tube (similar to a straw) attached to a vacuum.
In ultrasound-assisted liposuction, a specialized cannula or tube is inserted that emits ultrasonic vibrations which break up the fat cells. These are then suctioned out. There are many new techniques and technologies claiming to have similar results to standard liposuction with less downtime. While some of these may offer some benefit, most do not have as noticeable an effect as traditional liposuction and will not be appropriate for every patient. It is important to choose procedures which are FDA-approved, are well recognized by professional societies and have been clinically proven to be effective and safe. In addition, in order to minimize potential serious complication, you should ensure that the health provider performing the procedure is a Board Certified Surgeon who is licensed in that area.
You will have a preoperative visit with a nurse to review the details of what to expect during your surgery and recovery. You may need to get some baseline blood tests and may need to meet with an anesthesiologist prior to surgery. You will be asked to stop taking all over-the-counter pain or fever medicines (except Tylenol) and blood thinners for two weeks prior to your procedure. Many herbal medicines can also cause bleeding and so need to be stopped before surgery, including ginkgo biloba, St. John's Wort, and high doses of fish oil, flax seed oil, or vitamin E.
After surgery, you will notice a difference in your body shape. However, the final result for most patients is evident after about 1-6 months. The results are permanent with sensible diet and exercise. Simple activities are possible within a few days, but heavy lifting should be avoided for a few weeks, so parents of young children may want extra help during this time. Returning to work should be discussed with your surgeon before your surgery. Depending on your work and the extent of liposuction done, you may need to take from a few days to a few weeks off work after the surgery. It can take several months to a year for all of the swelling to subside, and for the scars to fade.
As in any surgery, risks include infection, scarring, delayed wound healing, bruising, or bleeding. Issues specific to this surgery are asymmetry, numb skin, and contour irregularities. Rare complications are fat emboli and injury to the overlying skin. Complications are very rare if liposuction is done by a board-certified plastic surgeon in conjunction with a board-certified anesthesiologist.