Liposuction-Arms FAQs

General FAQs
  • Q1 :

    How is liposuction performed?

  • Small incisions are made and the excess fat is suctioned out through these small incisions.  Sometimes a tumescent technique is used where a solution of saline (delivery and tumescent agent ), Lidocaine (pain reliever) and epinephrine (prohibits bleeding) are injected into the targeted area.  This technique's purpose is to engorge the tissues with  the solution for a firmer working area and the fat cells (which are softer) are suctioned out.  The epinephrine prohibits bleeding during the operation and less blood is lost during the procedure.

    There is a technique which involves ultrasonic waves.  These ultrasonic waves excite the tissues water molecules (fat molecules being the target) and literally melt the fat into a liquid for ease of removal by suction.  Unfortunately, each patient's molecules may react differently or in the case of unskilled surgeons, may improperly handle the equipment resulting in severe burns.

    Either way, the targeted fat is suctioned out, sutures are sometimes used in the closure of incisions, a bit of surgical tape or Steri-Strips? are placed over the incision and a support garment is worn for proper, compact healing.

  • Q2 :

    How many techniques are there for liposuction?

  • There is the Tumescent technique which is widely used by doctors every where.  With the tumescent technique, if the surgeon does not over inject the area with TOO MUCH Lidocaine solution, this technique is proving best.  Once upon a time they just shoved the hose in there and sucked away.  With the tumescent technique, they engorge the tissues with a saline/Lidocaine solution and suction the fat cells which are not engorged with the solution.  This technique also hinders of suctioning out of tissues that are not targeted for removal and lessens bleeding.  However, if a surgeon injects too much of the solution the patient can get Lidocaine toxicity which can cause sickness, complications and sometimes death.  Although Lidocaine toxicity is most often seen in body sculpture where large amounts of solution in injected within the body and the operation my require a longer period of anesthesia.

    There is also a Super-wet technique which is basically like the Tumescent but with not as much solution injected. It breaks down to about the same amount injected as the amount of fat removed.

    There is also the Ultra Sonic technique (UAL) which is regularly leaving patents with serious post-operative burns.  Apparently the high frequency waves are over-exciting the water particles (or any fluid containing) causing them to boil beneath the skin as well as damaging superficial tissues as well.

    And lastly there is the Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL or MicroAire Technique). PAL is a newer technique where the cannula eases through the fatty tissue (even fibrous) with less trauma than traditional techniques and with no burn risks as with the UAL techniques. This new machine uses a special high-speed "linear reciprocating" suction cannula. You see, with the newer cannula  surgeons are able to perform more effective high-volume liposuction in a shorter time, without trauma, especially in more fibrous areas. Fibrous tissue has always been a problem in the buttocks, saddlebags (upper sides of thighs in women), back and the male breast (gynecomastia).  The PAL system moves through these areas faster, with less trauma resulting in less work and strain for the surgeon and less pain and a faster recovery in patients.

  • Q3 :

    Is it quite painful? Is there much bruising?

  • It takes about a week and a half for most of the swelling to subside.  There is really not too much bruising with average cases, although it should be looked upon as individual.  Some are prone to bruising more than others.  You should take your prescribed pain medication to alleviate any pain or discomfort that you may experience.
  • Q4 :

    Is liposuction permanent?

  • To a certain degree, yes.  Although the fat will return if you over eat and gain weight.  The remaining fat cells have an extraordinary ability to expand considerably to compensate for any fat cells removed from liposuction.  Liposuction, in any application, is not to be used for weigh loss.  Patients have died from suctioning out too much of their  body's fluids. Your body needs fat and fluid to function. You must realize, that if you gain weight you will re-gain the fat stores in your neck and face.  Although it may not look the same or be as much.  The fat cells will compensate and engorge themselves and sell.  It is reported that fat cells are able to divide if they become too large.
  • Q5 :

    What are the risks of liposuction?

  • There are more risks with liposuction due to the fat and its surrounding tissues becoming necrotic (dead tissue). If the fat becomes necrotic from lack of blood supply, the fat tends to turn orange-ish clear and drain from the incision.  If the tissue becomes necrotic, that's a completely different story.  You must have the tissue removed before a major infection develops, possibly causing gangrene.  Even with the ultrasonic technique, patients have been known to receive actual burns from the ultrasonic technique.  The fat is actually melted within the body by 'exciting' the fat molecules with high frequency radio waves and is suctioned out.  There may be asymmetry, hyper-pigmentation (permanent dark spots) from the bruising.  Major blood loss is a factor is some cases.  As is hematoma and infection.  Liposuction is NOT the way to lose weight.

    Another risk of liposuction* is pulmonary Thromboemboli.   A thromboebolus is a blood clot and this blood clot can break free and travel to the lungs resulting in pulmonary Thromboemboli.  This can put a patient into adult breathing distress and subsequently into cardiac arrest or coma - leading to the patient becoming 'brain dead' shortly thereafter or in a vegetative state from loss of oxygen to the brain.  Pulmonary Thromboemboli can happen within three weeks of the surgery but will most likely show symptoms of shortness of breath and fatigue within the first 72 hours.  However, pulmonary Thromboemboli can occur suddenly, without warning.  Most patients with P.E. collapse and begin rapid deterioration after attempting to climb a flight of stairs.

    *facial liposuction risks are far less than body liposuction due to the amount of fat that is suctioned and disrupted.

  • Q6 :

    What does a typical liposuction consultation entail?

  • First off, your doctor will discuss your goals with you and he will explain what can be achieved realistically.  A surgeon should take into account what your body structure is and be able to recognize where your fat is needed.  Which is pretty much everywhere -- just not in excess.  There is no "one size fits all" technique when it comes to this procedure.  It is all individual.
  • Q7 :

    What should I expect post-operatively?

  • You may  feel a little sore but excessive pain is very rare with  liposuction.  It's more of an uncomfortable soreness.  Your pain relievers prescribed by your doctor should alleviate this pain. You will be asked to wear a support garment postoperatively for the first few days and then only at night for a few weeks if there was excessive removal of facial fat.  This will insure proper healing in the surrounding tissues for a more compact appearance.
  • Q8 :

    When will I be able to return to work?

  • Most patients return to work within 2 weeks.  Although some patients have returned just after 5 days.  It is highly individual.  The swelling is more than likely the main reason people tend to take off work.  The bruising, if any, can be camouflaged with cosmetics.  Still, you should not bend over or exercise until well after 3 weeks post-op.
  • Q9 :

    When will I be able to see the results?

  • After the swelling subsides you will begin to notice a difference in the compact appearance of your tissues.  It is advised to take before and after photos to fully appreciate the results as  a gradual decrease in swelling will give your mind time to accustom itself to the changes.  They may not seem too great to you, but with photos your appreciation and understanding of the results are clarified through visual realization.
  • Q10 :

    Where are the incisions made?

  • The incisions are made within the natural folds of the body which are usually near the pubic area, the inner knees several places along the thighs, etc. There are no folds there normally.  Unnecessary scarring is generally avoided in all techniques.  Discuss with your doctor his or incision placement of choice and why?