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Liposuction is a very popular cosmetic surgery / plastic surgery procedure that helps to sculpt one’s body contours. This is achieved by removing unwanted fat from certain areas of the body, thus creating a much more defined shape. The procedure, when carried out surgically is also called suction-assisted lipectomy, or liposculpture.
Often, advancing age brings increasing body weight with it. In these modern times, one’s body image is extremely important, and a negative body image can lead to much distress and unhappiness. In addition, excess weight is unhealthy and can lead to many problems and even cause life style diseases. Despite the most rigorous exercise or diet, there may be certain body areas which have stubborn deposits of excess fat that just will not disappear.
This is where liposuction can come to the rescue! Liposuction can help you to remove excess fatty deposits from various problem areas, as it can be carried out on almost any area of the body – hips, buttocks, knees or thighs; and also on stomach, chin, upper arms, or breasts. The only criterion is that one should be a suitable candidate is for this treatment.
It is frequently combined with a Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty procedure, in which removal the excess skin and tissue from the abdominal area helps one attain the sculptured and toned abdomen of one’s dreams!.
Abdominoplasty/Tummy Tuck and Liposuction Combination
Sometimes, excess fat may not be only the problem. One’s skin may have lost its elasticity due to sudden weight loss caused by liposuction, or even after pregnancy. In such cases, the best solution possible may be a combined Liposuction and Abdominoplasty procedure. Here, both excess fat and folds of skin are removed, giving the abdomen an aesthetically pleasing appearance.
This combination procedure forms part of the now famous ‘Mummy Makeover’ and is extremely popular with those who have not been able to regain their slim and slender figure, post-pregnancy.
To be an ideal candidate for liposuction, one should be of average weight, with firm, elastic skin and in good health generally. The main area of concern should be pockets of excess fat in certain areas. It is also very important that one has realistic expectations.
One must remember that even though liposuction often produces amazing improvements, it is not a solution for obesity, nor is it a weight-loss technique. Neither is it an effective treatment for cellulite. Ideally, this treatment should be viewed as a complement to good diet and regular exercise. It is certainly not meant to replace a healthy lifestyle.
Any excessively obese patient, having a body mass index greater than 30, should first lose weight under the supervision of a qualified nutritionist, to guarantee a more favourable outcome.
The basic surgical challenge of any liposuction procedure is :
- To suction out the right amount of fat.
- To cause the least possible disturbance to the nearby tissues, such as blood vessels and connective tissue.
- To leave the patient’s fluid balance undisturbed.
- To cause the least discomfort to the patient.
- As techniques have improved, many new ideas have emerged, making liposuction safer, easier, less stressful, and more effective.
VASER liposuction – or VASER lipo, is a body sculpting and fat removal procedure which is minimally invasive. In this method, Ultrasound Vibration technology is used to break down the fat cells without causing damage to the surrounding tissue. The fat is then suctioned out from the body.
Laser-Assisted Liposuction: In this laser-assisted technique, fat is melted using a concentrated laser beam light. This laser break down one’s fatty tissues safely, causing with less inflammation, bruising and bleeding than conventional methods.
PAL (Power Assisted Liposuction): In this method, a mechanical cannula can extract fat using smaller incisions, resulting in a more precise and shorter surgical operation.
SAL (Suction Assisted Liposuction): This is the traditional method of Liposuction, using a small tube, or cannula, attached to a pressurized vacuum.
TCAL (Twin Cannula Assisted Liposuction): With twin cannulas, this mechanical method is easier and more efficient. There is no burning and less scarring when using twin cannulas.
Tumescent Liposuction: With tumescent fluid injected into the fatty tissue, the plastic surgeon uses a cannula to suction out the fat while the blood vessels contract. This results in much less blood loss and also less bruising.
UAL (Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction): In this method, the fatty tissue cells are stimulated by ultrasound energy, causing them to rupture and liquefy. They can then be safely extracted. This method is safer, less traumatic and more efficient than other procedures.
External Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (XUAL or EUAL)
XUAL is a specialized type of UAL in which the ultrasonic energy is applied externally, through the skin. This makes it unnecessary to use the specialized cannulas used in the UAL procedure.
XUAL helps to avoid such complications such as skin necrosis, or seromas (in which pockets of fluid are formed) as the ultrasound is only applied externally. It may also cause less discomfort for the patient, both during and after the surgery, allow a larger area to be treated, and reduce blood loss.
However, it is not yet commonly used and studies of its effectiveness have not been conclusive.
Liposuction may be performed under either general anesthesia or epidural. Small areas may be treated under local anesthesia. The type of anesthesia will be selected after taking into account the patient’s condition and wishes, and also after considering the type of procedure.
The time taken in surgery will depend on the extent of the treatment, and it could vary from a few minutes to several hours. Some patients may be discharged on the same day, while others may require a few days of hospitalization.
- Depending on the extent of the treatment, patients can usually go back to work between a few days or a couple of weeks after the procedure.
- A compression garment will need to be worn for about four to six weeks. This garment should be elastic and must permit the usage of bandages. It is essential, in order to reduce bruising and swelling. It must be worn all the time, for four or five weeks after the operation.
- If non-absorbable stitches are used, they will be removed after about a week. The patient may need to take antibiotics immediately after the surgery to avoid any risk of infection. Painkillers will help to reduce pain or swelling, if any.
- The swelling and bruising will reduce after a few days, depending on the extent of the surgery.
Pre Surgery Precautions:-
Your doctor will discuss the lipo procedure with you and will also explain the precautions you are required to take before the procedure.
Before the procedure, your doctor is likely to ask you to
- Stop taking any medications like Aspirin that may cause excessive bleeding.
- Stop smoking, for at least two weeks before and after the procedure.
- Be sure not to eat or drink anything (including water) after midnight on the day prior to the surgery. This is essential for the anesthesia to be administered, especially if you have opted for general anesthesia. The procedure could even be cancelled if this is not done.
- On the morning of the surgery, you must take any essential medications that you usually require, e.g. for diabetes, with just a tiny mouthful of water.
- Do not wear any makeup at all on the day of your surgery.
- Make sure that someone is with you to take you home, after you are sent home after the procedure.
The swelling will subside in approximately two to eight weeks, while numbness may remain for several weeks.
If a small area was treated, you may be able to resume work within a few days. In case a large area was treated, you may need up to a fortnight to recover.
The bandage / compression garment can be taken off while showering.
Strenuous activity must be avoided for up to a month (but walking and gentle movements are permitted)
After about 7 days: Stitches will be removed (unless dissolvable sutures were used).
Post Surgery Precautions
As in the case of all operations, there is a small risk of adverse effects. Liposuction is generally a low-risk procedure, but rarely there may be some complications, which may include:
- Normal activity can be started again, anywhere from a few days to a few weeks afterwards, depending on the procedure.
- After about a month, you should be able to go back to any contact sports or strenuous activities which you would usually do.
- The final result of the treatment may not be fully noticeable until the swelling has subsided. It may even take five or six months before the final effects are visible. However, the patient will see a noticeable difference within a few days or weeks, as the swelling goes down.
- However, a proper diet and exercise programme needs to be followed, so that the remaining fat cells do not enlarge.
- Bruising: This may be painful just after the operation, but it should fade after a few weeks.
- Swelling: This should subside gradually over a couple of months.
- Scars: These will vary in size depending on the procedure, but they should fade over a month or two. Scarring may vary from individual to individual. For some patients, scar healing may even take up to a year.
- Pain: This should be temporary. It may be controlled by either prescription or over-the-counter medication.
- Numbness: This might sometimes linger for a few weeks.