Does it seem like everyone is getting liposuction these days? It's not surprising. Liposuctions are the most commonly performed cosmetic procedure in the nation. They have more than doubled in the past eight years, with over 400,000 procedures performed in 2006.
If you are thinking about liposuction, retired professor of plastic surgery, Dr Michael Wong urges people to learn all they can about it first before deciding whether it is appropriate. Here are some questions prospective patients should consider:
What exactly is liposuction?
Liposuction — which is also known as "lipoplasty" or "suction lipectomy" — is a surgical procedure to remove excess fat. Along with aesthetic techniques such as the tummy tuck, thigh and upper arm lifts, it is one of several procedures used by UC Davis plastic surgeons for body contouring and image enhancement.
For liposuction, a doctor makes a small incision in the skin, and then inserts a sharp-edged tube that cuts the fat and vacuums it out of the body. Fluid containing anesthetic and blood-clotting medicines is injected under the skin as part of most procedures. This decreases bleeding, reduces pain, and makes the fat tissue easier for the surgeon to work with.
Sometimes an ultrasound device is used instead of the conventional, sharp-edged tube. It vibrates extremely rapidly, liquefying the fat before vacuuming it up. Ultrasound assisted liposuction (UAL) is most appropriate for areas where fat is especially difficult to remove, such as when it is deposited in fibrous tissue in the upper abdomen, back or male breast. Because the tube is larger, it carries the disadvantage of requiring a larger incision and it may cause burns.
Who is the ideal candidate?
Liposuction is not a good weight reduction technique and will not make an obese person slender, adds Dr. Wong.
Will my fat come back?
Once fat cells are removed, they will not regenerate. However, fat cells that remain can increase in size. After liposuction, new weight gain should be more evenly distributed throughout the body and no longer concentrated in the area where the fat was removed. People with the best results control their weight with diet and exercise following surgery.
What is recovery like after surgery?
Usually the patient can go home on the same day as the procedure. You will need someone to drive you home and may want some help for a few days.
How should I choose a surgeon?
Doctors from a variety of specialties perform liposuction. Be sure to choose one certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This is extremely important in ensuring that the procedure will be carried out safely and in accordance with the standards of the profession.