If you want to improve your shape by slimming areas of your body that exercise just can’t help, then liposuction might be your ideal procedure. Liposuction is a proven, effective solution for permanently removing stubborn areas of fat. The most common locations for this cosmetic body procedure include the neck (“double chin”), upper arms, abdomen, hips, and thighs. There are multiple ways to perform liposuction, but Watterson Plastic Surgery endorses and uses just a few: suction-assisted lipoplasty, ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty, and power-assisted liposuction. These different methods utilize the super-wet technique, which ensures fat is targeted more precisely, and post-operative bruising and swelling are minimized.
How is the liposuction procedure performed?
There are several different techniques, cannulas and devices that can be used for liposuction. Some systems vibrate, others use water, still others use heat and of course many patients have heard of CoolSculpting which uses freezing to remove unwanted fat. The wonderful truth about liposuction is that you can “spot reduce” an area of fatty deposition. You can sculpt and contour which is almost impossible with exercise, diet or medications. To be able to “spot reduce” an area of unwanted fat is the incredible benefit of liposuction. The key consideration is the overlying skin and its elasticity. This is critical and makes for a wonderful result as compared to a mediocre or disappointing result.
Liposuction is performed by first marking and identifying the area of concern. Then after adequate anesthesia, either local or general, the fat is removed via a cannula (tube) with suction. Myriad techniques abound, but I prefer using a technique labeled SAFE by a plastic surgeon in Louisiana. This means initial fat Separation and Fat Equalization. This particular technique uses a vibrating system to separate and then smooth the area after suctioning the fat away. The results are usually excellent and depend heavily on patient selection and site location.
The key principle again is assessing the overlying skin and determining if the skin can tighten after removal of fat. Much like the skin tightens after pregnancy.
WHAT ARE YOUR LIPOSUCTION OPTIONS?
Indeed, liposuction is one of the most common surgical procedures performed in the United States, and it’s been that way for decades. As with any other surgical procedure, liposuction has advanced and evolved over the years. Today, there are a few cutting-edge practices that ensure optimal results while also emphasizing patient safety.
SUCTION-ASSISTED LIPECTOMY (SAL)
This more traditional form of lipectomy breaks up fat and uses a high-negative-pressure vacuum to remove the fat through a hollow instrument known as a cannula. The cannula is inserted through a small incision in the skin, often placed in inconspicuous areas to hide the visibly of any potential scars.
ULTRASOUND-ASSISTED LIPOPLASTY (UAL)
For fibrous body areas or larger amounts of fat, this technique involves inserting an ultrasound probe beneath the skin to “liquefy” the fat before it’s suctioned. This is particularly effective for the more stubborn fat deposits.
POWER-ASSISTED LIPOSUCTION (PAL)
It’s also worth mentioning the emergence of PAL, or power-assisted liposuction. This is a procedure wherein the physician uses a vibratory device that is easy to control, thus allowing for a more precise and thorough fat removal process. PAL devices create quick, small vibrations that break up the fat into minuscule pieces, which are then easily suctioned away by the surgeon.
While some trademarked techniques may be heavily promoted by others, they don’t always meet our standards at Watterson Plastic Surgery. Certainly, we understand the value of embracing the latest technology, but if a method doesn’t have proven success for our patients, then we won’t use it. That’s our promise to you.
WILL LIPOSUCTION LEAD TO WEIGHT LOSS?
Many patients come to us asking if liposuction will help them lose weight. This is actually a very common misconception: liposuction is not about losing weight, and shouldn’t be considered as a weight loss solution. On the contrary, liposuction is all about body contouring. It’s all about redefining the shape of your body, not about your weight per se.
Because of this, liposuction is generally recommended for those who live a healthy lifestyle. If you have a healthy diet and get regular exercise, yet still have problem areas that aren’t as contoured as you’d like, that might mean that you are a great candidate for liposuction. In fact, we generally feel that the best candidates for liposuction are those who are already fairly close to their ideal body weight. You’ll learn more about whether or not you are a good liposuction candidate when you consult with one of our renowned plastic surgeons.
Who is the ideal candidate for liposuction?
The ideal candidate is a patient with a localized area of fat, and who has excellent skin elasticity. It is not a weight loss procedure. It is a sculpting procedure and can provide dramatic and long-lasting results.
What areas can be treated with liposuction?
A wide array of areas is commonly treated including the neck, bra roll, and upper back, the lower back or flanks, abdomen, inner and outer thighs, knees and ankles. Each area has unique considerations and require different approaches and technique.
Liposuction is often used in conjunction with other procedures such as face lifts, tummy tucks, and fat grafting procedures. The newer infiltration techniques coupled with power-assisted liposuction and special cannula configurations make liposuction very popular.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECOVER FROM LIPOSUCTION?
As with any surgical procedure, liposuction is typically accompanied by some recovery time. It is normal for modest amounts of pain to be experienced immediately after the procedure, though your doctor can prescribe you medication to mitigate this pain. Most patients say that the pain feels like bruising and mostly subsides after the first 48 hours, though you may still feel some tenderness here and there for a few weeks after the procedure.
It is also common for there to be a little residual swelling for a few weeks after the procedure. The best way to minimize this is simply to get a little light exercise, such as walking, and wear any compression garments provided to you by your surgeon. Your surgeon will probably recommend this as early as possible. Heavy exercise should be avoided for a couple of weeks. Your plastic surgeon can speak with you more about what you can expect from the recovery process.
WHAT’S THE FIRST STEP TOWARD LIPOSUCTION?
If you believe that liposuction is the correct procedure for achieving your desired outcome, we invite you to contact us at Watterson Plastic Surgery. We will schedule a consultation, which will include a discussion of your concerns, goals, and a brief physical examination. This is vital for us to ensure that you are a good candidate for an effective and safe procedure. Reach out to Watterson Plastic Surgery to schedule your complimentary consultation today.
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LENGTH: 1-2 hours or more.
ANESTHESIA: Usually asleep.
IN/OUTPATIENT: Usually outpatient.
SIDE EFFECTS: Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness and burning sensation. Super wet: Temporary fluid drainage from incision sites.
RISKS: With any surgery, risks such as infection and blood clot exist. Our surgeons will always talk with you about potential risks specific to your procedures in your consultation. Other risks include asymmetry, skin irregularity, pigmentation changes, fluid retention or loss.
RECOVERY: Back to work: One week. More strenuous activity: Two to four weeks. Full recovery from swelling and bruising: Two to six months or more. A post-operative garment is usually necessary. More extensive surgery may require longer recovery times.
DURATION OF RESULTS: Sensible diet and exercise.
BEFORE & AFTER GALLERY
examples of our surgeons’ expert skills and our patient transformations