What does liposuction mean?

Liposuction is the process of suctioning or vacuuming out fat from different parts of the body, such as the abdomen, face, hips, thighs, chest, back, calves, ankles, upper arms, and neck. It allows not just fat removal but also contouring of these areas. Advancement in medical science and technology over the years has minimized the risks and improved the cosmetic outcome of the procedure. Liposuction not only helps remove stubborn accumulated fat, but it also produces hormonal changes in the body that help with further weight loss

What happens during liposuction surgery?

A liposuction procedure is generally performed by a plastic surgeon.

  • The surgeon uses a liposuction machine and special instruments, called cannulas, for the surgery.
  • The doctor gives local or general anesthesia.
  • A medicine-containing solution is injected through a small skin incision.
  • After the medicine in the solution takes effect, fat is vacuumed away through the suction tube.
  • Many skin punctures may be needed to treat large areas.
  • After fat removal, small drainage tubes may be inserted into the defatted areas.
  • The patient wears a compression garment after the procedure.

What are the different liposuction techniques?

There are many approaches to liposuction surgery. The technique that is best suited for a person depends on many factors, such as the size of the area being treated, the presence of other health conditions, etc. The four main types of liposuction procedures include:

Tumescent liposuction (fluid injection)

  • Tumescent liposuction is the most common type of liposuction and usually a longer procedure than the other types of liposuction.
  • A large amount of medicated solution is injected into the areas before the fat is removed. The amount of fluid exceeds the amount of fat that needs to be removed.
  • The solution is a mixture of a local anesthetic (lidocaine), a drug that contracts the blood vessels (epinephrine), and an intravenous (IV) salt solution.
  • Lidocaine helps numb the area to minimize pain.
  • Epinephrine helps reduce blood loss, bruising and swelling.
  • The IV salt solution helps make the removal of fat easier. The IV solution is suctioned out with the fat.

Super-wet technique

  • The super-wet technique is like tumescent liposuction except that less fluid is used during this surgery.
  • The amount of fluid injected is the same as the amount of fat that will be removed.
  • The super-wet technique is generally quicker than other liposuction procedures.
  • It often requires general anesthesia or medicines that make the patient sleepy (sedated).

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL)

  • This technique uses ultrasonic vibrations to liquefy fat cells.
  • The liquid fat is vacuumed out.
  • UAL may help remove fat from dense, fiber-filled (fibrous) areas of the body such as the upper back or enlarged male breasts.

Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL)

  • This technique uses laser energy to liquefy fat cells.
  • The liquefied cells are then vacuumed out or allowed to flow out through small tubes.
  • The technique is suitable for small areas such as the chin, cheeks, jowls, and face.
  • The added advantage is that laser energy stimulates the production of collagen. This may prevent the skin from sagging after the liposuction.

Are there any complications of liposuction?

The complications of liposuction are:

  • Bleeding
  • Pain
  • Fluid overload
  • Shock
  • Hematoma (swelling that contains clotted blood)
  • Fat embolism (tiny globules of fat in the bloodstream that may block the small blood vessels)
  • Nerve damage
  • Skin and other organ/tissue damage or burns from the instruments used
  • Uneven fat removal
  • Contour problems
  • Skin sagging
  • Scarring
  • Drug reactions

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Medically Reviewed on 6/9/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference
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