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Liposuction, The Plain Truth

By Jonathan Leger

If you're battling a bulge that just won't budge, liposuction surgery may have crossed your mind. By removing unwanted deposits of excess fat, liposuction improves body appearance and smoothes irregular or distorted body shapes. Safe liposuction surgery demands an attention to detail and care for the patient. Also, liposuction is mainly a form of body contouring and not a weight loss method.

The liposuction procedure has changed dramatically since it was first introduced in 1979. The old surgeries for fat and skin removal, such as the "tummy tuck", are significantly more risky than liposuction alone. Making an informed decision about having liposuction surgery requires that you feel secure in your knowledge and understanding of the procedure.

If properly done, the liposuction shrinks the skin and results in a reasonably good lower abdomen shape, but this requires an experienced surgeon. The best candidates for liposuction are normal-weight people with firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in certain areas.

The majority of liposuction surgeries are performed on an outpatient basis. If your surgeon performed a large-volume liposuction (over 5 liters) then you should stay in the hospital overnight for observation and safety.

Most commonly liposuction is performed by a dermatologist, a cosmetic surgeon, or a plastic surgeon.

Thigh liposuction is often performed in conjunction with buttock liposuction. Pock marks or wrinkling of the skin where the fat is removed may require another procedure to firm up the skin following liposuction.

Before surgery, the doctor may mark circles and lines on the areas of your body to undergo liposuction. Prior to the surgery a solution is infused into the area of the liposuction.

You must understand fully the pre-operative preparations, the liposuction procedure, and the precise post-operative care. A liposuction cannula is a stainless steel tube inserted through an incision in the skin that is employed to suction the fat. A small incision is first made where the instrument is inserted, so liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia.

A liposuction procedure may include more than one site, for instance, the abdomen, back, and thighs all on the same day.

Ultrasonic Liposuction

Ultrasonic assisted liposuction (UAL) is a two-step technique that uses the energy from sound waves to liquefy fat deposits before they are suctioned. Some surgeons may advise ultrasonic liposuction for large volume extractions, especially in tough areas such as the back, flanks and hips.

External ultrasonic energy can be applied and is recommended by some surgeons before or after the fat is removed by regular liposuction. Ultrasonic liposuction must ordinarily be combined with traditional liposuction when deep and surface fat is being removed.

With ultrasonic liposuction it is possible to remove fat from difficult areas such as the upper abdomen, flanks, hip and back. Ultrasonic liposuction is not a replacement for traditional liposuction but it is an addition. The results of ultrasonic liposuction are the same as traditional liposuction.

Tumescent Liposuction

One of the most significant improvements in liposuction in recent years has been the use of tumescent anesthesia, introduced by dermatologist Dr. Tumescent. Tumescent liposuction is now the most common form of liposuction.

The technique of tumescent liposuction has become especially popular, in part because of its purported safety. And now, tumescent technique has improved almost every aspect of liposuction. In fact, even if ultrasound is used, it will be followed by tumescent liposuction.

As judged by current world-wide experience, tumescent liposuction is very safe. Since its inception, liposuction performed with the tumescent technique has had an excellent safety profile. Complications of liposuction performed with a pure tumescent technique have been minimal.

Much less bleeding occurs as a result of tumescent liposuction. Other situations exist that may benefit from tumescent liposuction.

Risks and Side Effects

Although it is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures, liposuction is often times misrepresented in the popular media. However, liposuction is a serious surgical procedure and possibly may involve a painful recovery.

As with any surgical procedure, liposuction is associated with certain expected side-effects such as bruising, swelling, and temporary numbness. Although irregularities of the skin are possible following liposuction, this side-effect is minimized by the tumescent technique, especially when performed with small cannulas.

Skin injury, pigment change, fluid retention, rippling or bagginess of the skin are possible following liposuction.

Excessive surgical trauma (excessive liposuction) is dangerous and is an important cause for serious liposuction complications. Unrelated surgical procedures on the same day as liposuction should not be performed.

How Expensive Is It?

Health insurance does not usually cover cosmetic surgery such as liposuction. There fore the price of liposuction surgery may very from case to case.

Selecting A Surgeon

While some physicians' professional societies may recommend training before performing liposuction surgery, no standardized training is required.

The important distinction between liposuction surgeons who are board certified is the liposuction technique that they use. In order to master an artistic liposuction technique, the surgeon must have the skill and intelligence to avoid exposing patients to unnecessary dangers.

No matter which technique is used, liposuction is considered completely cosmetic and therefore entirely optional (elective). Choosing your liposuction surgeon should be a careful decision.

If you're considering liposuction, learn more about the procedure and the possible outcomes so you can make the best decision for yourself.

About The Author

Jonathan Leger runs a website devoted to cosmetic surgery. It has a section dedicated to liposuction information, which can be found at:


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