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Liposuction is the removal of deposits of excess fat by suction with specialized surgical equipment.

How is it done?
Treatment time will vary depending on the size of the area and the amount of fat being removed.  Liposuction may be performed under a local anesthesia which numbs the affected areas, usually combined with intravenous sedation. For more extensive procedures a general anesthesia may be used.  During the procedure the surgeon will insert a narrow tube called a cannula through a tiny incision.  The cannula is pushed and pulled through the fat layer breaking up the fat cells and suctioning them out.  Surgeons may use a “dry” technique, a “tumescent” technique that introduces large amounts of fluid.   After surgery, you will be required to wear a supportive corset or pressure bandages around the treated areas.
Liposuction gives added contour and definition to treated areas on the ankles, calves, thighs, buttocks, and abdomen, as well as the arms, neck and under the chin.  The procedure may also be part of an operation to treat lipomas (benign (non-cancerous) tumors of fat), gynecomastia (fatty breast development in men), and for adjusting the shape of breasts after reconstructive surgery.
Complications specific to liposuction are infrequent and usually minor. However, as with any surgery, there are risks, including the possibility of:
  • Bleeding under the skin (hematoma) after surgery.
  • Scars.  In most cases scarring is minimal, though lumpy red scars can form in some people.
  • Infection, though unusual after this type of surgery, may occur and require antibiotic treatment.
  • Irregularities in skin contour and depressions in the skin may occur.
  • With wet liposuction pulmonary edema (fluid build up in the lungs) can occur as a result of the fluid that is injected and needs immediate treatment.  The fluid used can also cause allergic reactions in some patients.
  • Reaction to the anesthesia.

It is impossible to guarantee symmetrical body appearance and smooth skin after liposuction surgery.  Some numbness can occur and there may be significant bruising and swelling which may take several months to settle completely.

Risks can be reduced by following the surgeon's instructions before and after surgery.  The FAQ question "What are the risks of plastic and cosmetic surgery?" has additional details on risks and how to minimize them.
The surgeon may discuss alternative approaches to the Liposuction procedure, for example the “wet technique”. However, the main alternative to Lipoplasty is simply to leave the fat deposits as they are. Diet and exercise regimens may be of benefit in the overall reduction of excess body fat.  Direct removal of excess skin may be needed in addition to liposuction treatment in some patients.
The best candidates for Liposuction surgery are individuals of relatively normal weight who have excess fat in particular areas.  Having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final contour after the liposuction. The surgeon will make the final determination of each patient’s eligibility for the procedure after an examination and consultation with the patient.

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