The ABC’s of Liposuction
All around the world liposuction has become a popular intervention in the surgical field. The general idea is genius- remove fat tissue where it is a nuisance and stubborn but do not touch it where it is needed.
A: Who is a candidate for liposuction?
The right candidate is a person who has a healthy diet, exercises from time to time but has deposits of fat tissue that they cannot get rid of and in their skinniest forms have “muffins”. Almost everyone has areas of their body that are very hard to get rid of no matter how much exercise and weight loss is done.
B: On which body parts is liposuction done?
Generally, it can be done anywhere but most commonly the waist, flanks, stomach, thighs, knees, chin, chest, and arms.
C: Is liposuction painful and dangerous?
Liposuction is not dangerous. In almost all cases, the procedure is done as an outpatient and the patient is home and walking later that day. There is numbing medicine in the liposuction fluid that lasts for hours after the operation. The pain is not of great intensity but sometimes bruises can scare patients. The bruising generally lasts less than a week and most patients describe the soreness like they did a lot of “sit ups”. Strong pain medicine is prescribed to help with the soreness but most patients do not use it more than a couple days.
D: Can a patient lose weight with liposuction?
Candidates for liposuction should be healthy people with tight skin and stable body mass. Liposuction is not a method for weight loss despite being able to remove 4500ml of fat tissue in one act. If the patient has excess skin, then they should consider tightening procedures of the effected areas.
A big myth is that the fat “goes to somewhere else” or “comes back to the lipo area”. Fat does not have “memory” and will not go to areas specifically. However, it is still possible to gain fat through eating improperly, but this will happen proportionally throughout the body. You will still look better than if you had not done any liposuction……but if patients do not maintain their weight, it may look like they did not get liposuction at all!
E: Can it be done in local anaesthesia?
Sometimes smaller scale liposuction can be done locally but more often it is done under sedation or general anaesthesia for patient comfort.
F: How is liposuction done?
A small “poke hole” in the skin is done, and then a special solution is injected to decrease bleeding, break up the fat, and numb the area. Next, a special shaped tube or “cannula” is used to remove fat tissue with suction. There is no cutting of the tissue, nor any large scars or wounds. In the end, the surgeon checks that the tissue is straight and even throughout.
G: What after?
The patient can do most of their daily activities, takes their antibiotics, and walks to help recovery. A few days later, the patient usually calls in to say they “look the same”. This occurs because of the swelling, which lasts around three weeks. An abdominal binder is worn for a few weeks after surgery to decrease the swelling. Swelling is a natural part of healing and can be present for a couple months in some people. Bruises disappear within the first couple weeks after the operation.
H: When are the stitches removed?
Stitches are removed 7-10 days after the operation.
I: When does the patient return to normal activities and exercises?
Roughly 2-4 weeks are needed for recovery but it depends on the region and the extensive nature of the operation itself. After smaller liposuctions, exercises can be resumed earlier while larger liposuctions require a longer down time.