8 Most Frequently Asked Questions About Liposuction

We’ve all been there. We diet, we exercise, we wait, but no matter how hard we try, there’s that one spot where the fat doesn’t want to go away. 

This is why liposuction is the second most common plastic surgery procedure in the United States. 

Most commonly performed on the hips, thighs, buttocks, abdomen, and arms, liposuction helps remove stubborn areas of fat that may have proved immune to diet and exercise. As a prospective aesthetic medicine practitioner, though, this type of surgery may be new to you. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about liposuction.

How is it done?

When receiving liposuction treatments, patients are generally given both general and local anesthesia prior to the actual procedure. Having previously marked the spots on the body where incisions will be made, the surgeon will then insert a small, hollow tube, or cannula into each incision. With the assistance of a medical vacuum, the cannula removes fat from the designated areas, depositing it into a collection canister.

Two often-used liposuction techniques are tumescent liposuction and ultrasound-assisted liposuction. In the former, a solution of saline, local anesthetic, and medication to contract blood vessels is injected into the target area prior to the insertion of the cannula. This solution serves to anesthetize the area, loosen the fat, and reduce blood loss and bruising. 

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction, on the other hand, makes use of a special cannula equipped with an ultrasonic generator, which helps to liquefy the fat, allowing for easier removal with less blood loss and bruising as well as quicker recovery time. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction also allows for more detailed body sculpting.

Who can receive liposuction?

While most people are usually considered to be good candidates for liposuction, ideal candidates should be slightly overweight, with supple, elastic skin, and realistic expectations of the results achievable from the procedure. 

As opposed to being a procedure for removing large fat deposits, liposuction is most effective when used as a sculpting tool to remove small pockets of fat that have proven resistant to diet and exercise.

What are the risks of liposuction?

As with any surgical procedure, there is an inherent element of risk involved with liposuction. 

In the hands of a qualified surgeon in a well-equipped operating room, however, the risks are minimal, and serious complications are rare. Adverse reactions to liposuction can include swelling, bleeding, pain, and infection. In general, though, liposuction is considered to be a safe procedure.

What is the expected recovery time?

Recovery time for liposuction will vary depending upon the individual, the type of procedure used, and the amount of fat removed. In general, patients are back to work in just a few days to a week, with a return to their normal lifestyle after two to three weeks. It’s best to refrain from overly strenuous exercise for at least a month. Strictly adhering to all post-op instructions will help keep recovery time to a minimum.

How long is the procedure?

Liposuction is generally performed on an outpatient basis, though an overnight stay may sometimes be recommended in rare situations. Depending upon the technique used and the number and location of areas treated, the entire procedure can last anywhere from one to four hours.

How much fat can be removed?

As stated above, liposuction is not a weight-loss technique for those who are significantly overweight. It is best applied to patients at or slightly above their ideal weight who have stubborn pockets of fat that diet and exercise have been unable to reach. 

Removing too much fat at one time is not recommended, as it can leave the patient with dimpled or saggy skin in the treated area. Removing too much fat in one procedure can also increase the likelihood of adverse risks or complications.

Liposuction or tummy tuck?

If unwanted fat pockets are the patient’s only complaint, liposuction is generally the best procedure. If, however, the patient has excess skin, sagging skin, or weak abdominal muscles, a tummy tuck or mini tummy tuck will yield better results.

Can the removed fat return?

Liposuction is not necessarily a permanent fat removal solution, although it is generally very effective in sculpting the body by removing unwanted fat pockets. While initial post-procedure weight gain will generally be deposited mainly on untreated areas, continued weight gain will result in fat returning to treated areas. For long-term results, it’s vital that patients maintain a healthy, active lifestyle following any liposuction procedure.

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