Liposuction Procedures and Information

Considering Liposuction?

Suction Assisted Lipectomy (SAL) or liposuction is a surgical technique in which the removal of fat deposits reshapes a specific part of the body, such as the face, neck, arms, abdomen, hips, or thighs. Lipoplasty, which was actively practiced in Europe during the mid 1970s, was not popularized in the United States until the early 1980s. Since then it has become the most requested aesthetic surgical procedure. The popularity of this operation is based on its relative simplicity which requires only a small incision usually well hidden in a normal skin fold. Frequently, patients seek this surgery to reduce their weight and general obesity. Unfortunately, it is not indicated to treat these problems. Standard methods of weight reduction are required for these patients. Liposuction is intended to re-sculpt isolated collections of body fat that would not generally respond to diet and exercise; it is a method of body contouring to reduce inches, not pounds. The good news is that the suctioned fat cells are permanently removed. If the patient gains weight later on, the new fat will be distributed in a more proportioned manner.

Who should have liposuction?

Patients with average weight, localized fat collections, and healthy elastic skin are the best candidates for liposuction. Obesity, cellulite, or loose sagging inelastic skin are several problems that would tend toward poor results. In fact, these problems may be worsened by liposuction. Unfortunately, many individuals performing this procedure are not trained in other techniques of body contouring and may not have the experience to recognize that a different procedure (such as a tummy tuck) may provide a better result for the patient. SAL may be used in conjunction with other body contouring procedures, such as breast reduction, tummy tuck, thigh-lift, or face lift.

Fluid Injection, a technique in which a medicated solution is injected into fatty areas before the fat is removed, is commonly used by plastic surgeons today. The fluid -- a mixture of intravenous salt solution, lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine (a drug that contracts blood vessels) -- helps the fat be removed more easily, reduces blood loss and provides anesthesia during and after surgery. Fluid injection also helps to reduce the amount of bruising after surgery.

Large volumes of fluid -- sometimes as much as three times the amount of fat to be removed -- are injected in the tumescent technique. Tumescent liposuction, typically performed on patients who need only a local anesthetic, usually takes significantly longer than traditional liposuction (sometimes as long as 4 to 5 hours). However, because the injected fluid contains an adequate amount of anesthetic, additional anesthesia may not be necessary. The name of this technique refers to the swollen and firm or "tumesced" state of the fatty tissues when they are filled with solution.

The super-wet technique is similar to the tumescent technique, except that lesser amounts of fluid are used. Usually the amount of fluid injected is equal to the amount of fat to be removed. This technique often requires IV sedation or general anesthesia and typically takes one to two hours of surgery time.

Ultrasound-Assisted liposuction (UAL). This technique requires the use of a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. As it passes through the areas of fat, the energy explodes the walls of the fat cells, liquefying the fat. The fat is then removed with the traditional technique.

 

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