Since its inception in the 1970s, liposuction has grown in popularity to become the most sought-after aesthetic surgery in the modern world. Liposuction is a procedure that is carried out to remove fat from selected parts of the body by breaking it up and then releasing it through suction.
Why it’s done
Exercise and a proper diet are best to lose weight and fat mass for overweight patients. However, some parts of the body may not respond equally and still retain fat. Similarly, liposuction is the best option for someone who has excess body fat in specific parts of the body but is otherwise fit. Stubborn parts of the body that commonly retain excess fat are; the abdomen, upper arms, buttocks, back, chest, neck, and thighs.
Liposuction can also be used to treat conditions such as gynecomastia by reducing the number of fat cells in the breast area, which over time changes the appearance provided your weight remains stable. Other conditions that can be remedied by liposuction include; lipoedema, lipomas, lymphedema, lipodystrophies, and many more.
Risks associated with liposuction
Any major invasive surgery carries risks to the health and well-being of the patient. Liposuction is not exempted from this and carries risks such as;
• Irregular contours – Your skin may become loose or withered due to uneven fat removal, and this change can be permanent. Poor skin elasticity is another factor that can cause irregular contours coupled with abnormal healing.
• Accumulation of fluid – Pockets of fluid can form under the skin of the section undergoing liposuction; this is usually temporary and can be drained with a needle.
• Insensitivity – The area undergoing liposuction may become temporarily or permanently numb due to nerve damage.
• Internal puncture – In rare cases, the cannula used during liposuction can penetrate deep into the body cavity and puncture an internal organ; this may necessitate surgical intervention.
• Fat embolism – During the procedure, loose pieces of fat may drift away and become trapped in blood vessels; this is a severe condition, and it should be treated as a medical emergency.
• Heart and kidney problems – Fluids being injected and sucked from the body can cause alterations in fluid levels, resulting in potentially fatal heart, kidney, and lung problems.
Preparation for the liposuction procedure
Preparation before your liposuction procedure can help in recovery and reduce the chances of complications arising. Before the process, the doctor will assess to determine the best liposuction procedure based on your overall health, the part of the body to be treated, and past surgeries that you have undergone. Images of the target area of the body may be taken, and markings drawn to help guide the surgery. As outlined earlier, there are many kinds of liposuction procedures.
Before liposuction can be carried out, the surgeon will need to review any medication you may be taking and your medical history, and any supplementation you may be taking. Additional instructions are usually given before the surgery, such as; if you are a regular smoker, you should stop at least two weeks before the surgery, do not eat or drink after midnight before the day of surgery, and medications taken during this time should be taken with a small sip of water, do not shave hair near the target areas to avoid ingrown hairs and wearing loose-fitting clothes on the day of surgery.
Types of liposuction
• Tumescent liposuction – During this procedure, a sterile solution of saltwater, an anesthetic (lidocaine), and a blood constrictor (epinephrine) are injected into the target area, which causes the site to harden. The surgeon follows up by inserting a thin tube known as a cannula and suctioning out fluid from the area, and body fluid is usually replenished through an intravenous line.
• Ultrasound-assisted liposuction(UAL) – is the most preferred method by plastic surgeons; it is deemed more effective and carries fewer risks than other liposuction procedures. UAL liquefies fat cells before they are removed with ultrasound and ultrasonic waves to target fat cells. During the procedure, local or topical anesthesia will be used to numb the target area before the surgeon inserts a rod that will deliver ultrasonic energy that destroys the walls of fat cells, thus liquefying them. UAL is effective in removing fat more precisely, eliminating fat rolls, improving skin contraction, and preserving nerves even after the procedure. Although UAL is precise in fat removal, it also has risks. First, it has an increased risk of scarring compared to traditional forms of liposuction, such as suction-assisted liposuction. It also carries a risk of infection common in all the procedures. Ultrasound-assisted liposuctions are carried out on an outpatient basis, and the patient will go home the same day to start the recovery process.
• Laser-assisted liposuction – A high-intensity laser is used to break down fat before removal; a laser fiber is inserted in the skin by the surgeon to emulsify fat deposits before a cannula removes them.
• Power-assisted liposuction – In this procedure, a cannula is moved in a rapid back and forth motion which allows the surgeon to extract fat faster. This procedure enables fat to be removed precisely, and it causes less swelling and pain post-surgery; it is usually used when large volumes of fat need to be removed.
After the liposuction
The patient should expect pain and swelling after surgery as the body starts healing. Medication may be prescribed to control pain and antibiotics to reduce the chances of an infection. An incision may be left open and temporary drains inserted to draw excess fluids. You may also need to wear tight compression garments to reduce swelling for a few weeks.
Although liposuction carries both long and short-term options, it is a relatively safe surgery that can be used to treat and shape your body to your desire. Tumescent liposuction is the best option as the most popular for its benefits: its high effectiveness, quick recovery time, safety, and less time required for healing. The fact that tumescent liposuction does not require general anesthesia and is usually done as an outpatient service increases its attractiveness to potential patients