Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, is a surgical procedure that uses a suction technique to remove fat from specific areas of the body. It is a form of body contouring surgery because it slims down these areas thereby improving their shape. Areas that are suitable for treatment include:• Abdomen• Buttocks• Hips and thighs• Calves and ankles• Upper arms• Chest and back• Chin and neck
In addition, liposuction can sometimes be used for female (Breast Reduction) or male breast reduction (Gynaecomastia).
As liposuction only targets specific areas for treatment, it should not be regarded as a tool for weight loss. If you are overweight, you are more likely to lose weight overall through diet, exercise, or bariatric surgery procedures (such as gastric bypass surgery) than you would with liposuction. Liposuction also will not improve skin surface irregularities such as cellulite dimpling or stretch marks.
The ideal patient for liposuction is someone who has a stable body weight below the obese range (Body Mass Index, BMI <30) but has stubborn fatty deposits in particular areas that have not responded to diet and exercise.
Liposuction may be formed as a day surgery procedure if only a small amount of fat needs to be removed. However, if a large amount of fat has to be removed, multiple areas need to be treated, or other procedures are planned at the same time, your surgeon will likely recommend general anaesthesia and hospital admission afterwards for safety reasons. The fat will be sucked away using suction probes through small incisions which are carefully placed to ensure that they are as hidden as possible. These generally fade to become barely perceptible over time.
Dressings and/or bandages will be applied over the incisions. Small tubes (drains) may be need to be placed to remove the excess blood and fluid for several days. Tight compression garments are usually fitted post-operatively over the treated areas to reduce the swelling and control the bruising. This will need to be worn continuously for several weeks until your surgeon advises otherwise. It may take a few weeks before you are able to resume your normal activities, including exercise.
It will take several months for the swelling and irregular contours to settle completely. The skin in the treated areas can shrink and mold itself to a certain degree. The final results can generally be seen 6 months after surgery. If you have good skin tone and elasticity, the skin is likely to appear smooth. However, if your skin is thin with poor elasticity, or if too much fat has had to be removed, the skin in the treated areas may continue to appear loose. Removal of this loose skin will require additional surgery through larger, more obvious incisions.
Because liposuction reduces the number of fat cells in a specific area, the resultant improvement in contour is generally permanent, provided your weight remains stable. If you gain weight after liposuction, your fat distribution may change. For example, you may notice preferential accumulation of fat in areas that were not treated by liposuction.
Every year, many thousands of people undergo liposuction with no major problems and good results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of the possible risks, which include: • Anaesthetic risks• Fluid imbalances, which can affect the heart, kidneys or lungs• Excess blood accumulation (haematoma)• Excess fluid accumulation (seroma)• Infection• Contour irregularities• Loose skin folds• Poor scarring• Numbness of the treated area, which may be temporary or permanent• Internal puncture, with damage to internal organs or important blood vessels• Fat or thrombo-embolism, whereby pieces of fat or blood clots become trapped in a blood vessel, potentially gathering in the lungs or brain. This is a medical emergency.
The risk of complications increases if the surgeon is working on larger surfaces of your body or doing multiple procedures during the same operation. The subject of risks and potential complications is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon.