Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that uses a thin, hollow tube called a cannula to remove localized areas of body fat. The cannula is inserted through extremely small incisions, and then used to remove precise amounts of fat in order to sculpt the shape of the face or neck. Treated areas look slimmer and more contoured, and in better overall proportion to the rest of the face or body.
The ideal candidate for liposuction is in good overall health, but has one or more areas of fat that do not respond to diet or exercise. Areas that are often treated with liposcultping include the neck, chin and jowls. Liposuction can be performed alone, or in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures, such as a facelift or buccal fat removal.
The Liposuction Procedure
One of the most common liposuction techniques is tumescent liposuction. It is performed on an outpatient basis with either oral or IV sedation as well as local anesthesia.
During tumescent liposuction, a solution comprising saline solution, lidocaine (an anesthetic) and epinephrine (a blood-vessel contractor) is injected into the area being treated. The solution causes the targeted tissue swell and become firm, which makes it easier to remove via the cannula. The advantages to this technique are that the anesthetic is built in and blood loss is minimized because the epinephrine constricts blood vessels.
Recovery from Liposuction
After liposuction, patients experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort in the treated area. The skin overlying the treatment area may be numb for some time. Compression garments or elastic bandages are typically worn to help reduce these symptoms as the area heals. Patients can return to work and other regular activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually after a few days. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks.
Risks of Liposuction
In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery, risks associated with liposuction include the following:
- Loose or rippled skin
- Contour irregularities
When large amounts of fat are removed, surgery to remove excess skin may be necessary.
Results of Liposuction
Results of the liposuction procedure may not be apparent until swelling and bruising subside, which usually takes a week; swelling should completely subside within a few months. The results of liposuction are long-lasting, unless a substantial amount of weight is gained.