Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure that involves the removal of excess fat from the body. The modern liposuction procedure was first developed in 1975 by Italian surgeons Arpad and Giorgio Fischer. Since then, it has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the world, with over 1.5 million liposuction procedures performed every year.
Cosmetic vs. Reconstruction
There are two types of liposuction: cosmetic and reconstructive. Cosmetic liposuction is a body contouring procedure, while reconstructive liposuction is performed to correct deformities caused by accidents or surgery. Liposuction is a safe procedure used to remove deep and superficial fat deposits and modify the body shape. It’s become an important component in many other aesthetic treatments, such as reduction mammoplasty, abdominoplasty, thigh lift, and post-bariatric body contouring. However, it may be used in reconstructive surgery for lipomas, lipedema, lipodystrophy, gynecomastia, lymphedema, and many others.
Is Liposuction For Me?
Liposuction may be an option if you have excess fat in specific areas of your body that don’t respond to diet or exercise. Liposuction isn’t a weight-loss solution or a treatment for obesity.
Good candidates for liposuction are:
- Healthy individuals with realistic expectations
- Individuals with localized areas of fat
- Individuals who are unable to lose weight through diet and exercise
- Good skin elasticity
- Good skin tone
There are many liposuction techniques, but they all have the same goal: to remove excess fat from the body. The most common surgical techniques are:
- Tumescent liposuction: Tumescent is defined as swollen and firm. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area. A large volume of saline solution with lidocaine and epinephrine is injected into the area to be treated, making it firm or tumescent. This solution numbs the area and makes the fat easier to remove with less blood loss. Tumescent liposuction can be performed under local or general anesthesia.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL): UAL is a liposuction technique that uses sound waves to break down the fat before it’s removed, making the fat easier to remove and can reduce swelling and bruising. UAL can be performed under local or general anesthesia.
- Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL): PAL is a liposuction technique that uses a cannula that moves in a rapid back-and-forth motion. This motion breaks up the fat so it can be removed more easily.
- Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL): LAL uses a laser to break down the fat before it’s removed. The cannula is smaller than with other traditional liposuction techniques, so it can be inserted through smaller incisions. Another benefit of LAL is that the laser causes collagen production to increase.
Is General Anesthesia Safe?
Yes, it is safe, but there are some risks to be aware of. General anesthesia is a combination of medications that put you in a sleep-like state before a surgery or procedure. A nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist will give you the medication through an IV, and you won’t be able to remember anything during the surgery or procedure.
The risks of general anesthesia include:
- While very rare, anesthesia awareness is possible (AAGA)
- Allergic reactions to the medication
- Side effects such as nausea and vomiting
- Complications such as heart attack or stroke
How to Prepare For Liposuction
To prepare for liposuction, you’ll meet with your surgeon for a consultation. During the consultation, the surgeon will:
- Evaluate your overall health
- Discuss your goals for liposuction
- Perform a physical exam
- Take photos for your medical record
The surgeon will ask about your medical history and whether you have any medical conditions that could complicate liposuction. You’ll need to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners, at least two weeks before liposuction. You may also need to get lab tests or medical clearance from your primary care doctor. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to follow before the surgery.
Liposuction is typically an outpatient procedure, which means you won’t need to stay in the hospital overnight. The surgery is usually done under local anesthesia with sedation, but it can also be done under general anesthesia.
Before liposuction begins, the area to be treated will be numbed with a local anesthetic. A small incision will be made, and the cannula will be inserted through the incision. The cannula is connected to a suction device, and the fat is removed through suction. The surgery usually takes 1-2 hours, but it may take longer if a large area is being treated.
After liposuction, you’ll be taken to a recovery room where you’ll be closely monitored. You may feel groggy from the anesthesia, and you may have some pain and swelling. Most people can return to work within a few days, but you should avoid strenuous activity for at least two weeks. Most patients resume normal activities two to three weeks after the procedure. You’ll need to see your surgeon for follow-up appointments so they can check on your healing and give you any additional instructions.
Pain medications can help you manage any pain you experience after liposuction. Your surgeon may prescribe medications such as ibuprofen (Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) to help with the pain. You may also need to take prescription pain medications, such as opioids, for a few days after surgery. Be sure to take the pain medications as directed and only for as long as you need them.
You can expect some bruising and swelling after liposuction. The swelling may last for several weeks or longer. Bruising is usually gone within 2-4 weeks. To help with the swelling, you’ll likely need to wear a compression garment for 1-2 weeks after surgery. The compression garment helps to support your skin as it heals and also helps to reduce swelling.
It’s not unusual to feel numbness in the area where liposuction was performed. The numbness is usually temporary and should resolve within a few months.
Risks From Liposuction
All surgery carries some risk of complications. Complications from liposuction are rare but can include:
- Infection: Liposuction incisions are usually small, but there is still a risk of infection. Signs of infection include redness, swelling, warmth around the incision site, and fever.
- Nerve injury: In rare cases, liposuction can cause nerve damage. Nerve injury can result in numbness, tingling, or pain.
- Blood clots: In rare cases, blood clots can form during liposuction. Signs of a blood clot include shortness of breath, chest pain, and coughing up blood.
- Bleeding: Bleeding is a risk with any surgery. A Hematoma (a collection of blood outside of the blood vessels) is also a possible complication of liposuction.
Skin Necrosis: Skin necrosis occurs when the blood supply to the skin is cut off, and the skin dies. Signs of skin necrosis include black or blue skin and pain and tenderness.
How Long Does It Last?
Liposuction is considered a permanent procedure because the fat cells that are removed are gone for good. However, liposuction does not prevent new fat cells from forming. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity, and it should not be used as a weight-loss method.
If you gain weight after liposuction, you may notice an increase in fat in other areas of the body. To help keep your results long-lasting, maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Have a plan, talk with a nutritionist, or join a weight-loss program to help you stay on track.
Liposuction In Bakersfield
If you’re considering liposuction, it’s important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to discuss your goals and expectations.
Dr. Brandon Freeman is a board-certified plastic surgeon who offers liposuction in Bakersfield and many other cosmetic and reconstructive procedures. He will work with you to help you achieve the results you desire. Contact us today at (661) 808-4070 or fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation.