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What is Liposuction

Liposuction is an elective cosmetic procedure, typically out patient, that is designed to shape/contour a person’s body by removing pockets of fat that are unaltered by diet and exercise. This is not a weight loss technique. Any part of the body can have liposuction such as:

  • Abdomen
  • Side flanks
  • Chin
  • Thighs
  • Hips
  • Waist
  • Buttocks
  • Arms

How is Liposuction Performed

Liposuction is performed by making small incisions on the skin and placing a cannula (hollowed pen like tube that varies in size) under the skin and suctioning out the fat. Only subcutaneous fat can not be removed (opposed to visceral fat around the organs) which is located just below the skin.

These types of liposuction techniques have been introduced to help reduce the invasive nature and risks. (source Web MD)

  • Tumescent liposuction. A local anesthetic is used to numb the area of your body where the tube will be inserted. Next, a large amount of an anesthetic solution containing lidocaine and epinephrine is injected into the fatty tissue before traditional liposuction is done. Tumescent liposuction may not require general anesthesia (which makes you sleep through the procedure).
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction. This technique uses ultrasound to liquefy the fat, which makes it easier to remove. This technique may be particularly helpful in removing fat from the upper abdomen, sides, and back.
  • Laser-assisted liposuction. This technique uses low-energy waves to liquefy the fat, which is removed through a small cannula.

Non Surgical Liposuction

Non invasive surgical liposuction is an option for some candidates. However know that not all non surgical liposuction technologies are FDA approved which means they are not proven to work nor do we know if there are any side effects. Here is a list of non surgical types of liposuction.

  • Ultrasound Fat Reduction
  • Laser Fat Reduction
  • Lipo Dissolve (not FDA approved)

Safety Concerns

Any licensed physician can perform liposuction. Unfortunately, this is not a regulated procedure, no specialized training  is required to perform these procedures. Most people choose a liposuction procedure based on advertising or price. You do not have to be a board certified plastic surgeon to perform liposuction although people interested in this procedure should seek one.  A blind technique is used to perform this procedure meaning a surgeon’s hands and knowledge of the body are the only things used to guide them during this procedure. Knowing that a blind technique is used – having 100% trust in your surgeon is needed.

The Risks

Although the risks associated with liposuction are few and far between, everyone considering this procedure should know the possibilities. Knowing all the risks can help you make an informed decision when selecting the surgeon and the facility. Research is key with any plastic surgery procedure – not only should you consider the successful outcome but also consider the negative outcome and what it could cost you.

  • Infection
  • Fat Embolism
  • Puncture Organs
  • Swelling / Edema
  • Anesthesia Poisoning
  • Burns from Ultasonic Lipo
  • Skin Irregularities
  • Skin Sensitivity / Numbness
  • Death

Terms You Need to Know

Before meeting with your surgeon make sure you understand the terminology he/she will use. Here is a list of helpful terms that will get you through the conversation and maybe even inspire some questions and risks about the procedure. These terms were found on the FDA’s website.

  • Anesthetic – drugs that cause the loss of feeling or sensation.
  • Canula (or cannula) – a hollow pen-like instrument or tube used to draw off fluid.
  • Edema – swelling caused by large amount of fluid in cells or tissues.
  • Emboli – something that blocks a blood vessel. See embolism.
  • Embolism – the blocking of a blood vessel or organ by pieces of matter such as fat.
  • Emulsify – to break up into small pieces.
  • Epinephrine – a drug injected before liposuction to reduce bleeding during the procedure.
  • Infection – invasion by and multiplication of bacteria or microorganisms that can produce tissue injury.
  • Lidocaine – an anesthetic that may be injected in large amounts of liquid during liposuction.
  • Lipoplasty – another name for liposuction.
  • Liposuction – a usually cosmetic surgical procedure in which fat is removed from a specific area of the body, by means of suction.
  • Necrotizing Faciitis – a bacterial infection in which bacteria infect and kill the skin and underlying tissues.
  • Paresthesia – a change in feelings or sensation. May be an increase in feeling (pain) or a decrease in feeling (numbness).
  • Pulmonary embolism – pieces of fat may find their way into the blood stream and get stuck in the lungs during liposuction. This causes shortness of breath or trouble breathing.
  • Probe – see canula.
  • Sedative – a drug which helps a person to relax and may make them feel sleepy.
  • Seroma – a collection of fluid from the blood that has pooled at the liposuction site.
  • Skin necrosis – skin or underlying tissue dies and falls off.
  • Suction assisted liposuction – see liposuction.
  • Thrombophlebitis – inflammation of a vein caused by a blood clot.
  • Toxic Shock Syndrome – an infection caused by bacteria that release toxins into the body. This type of infection can occur after surgery if bacteria are accidentally introduced during the surgery.
  • Ultrasound assisted liposuction – a type of liposuction in which fat is first loosened by using an ultrasonic probe and then removed by means of suction.
  • Visceral perforations – organs may be punctured accidentally with the liposuction probe or canula during liposuction.

FDA Approved Fat Removal or Fat Reduction Procedures (courtesy of www.PlasticSurgery.org)

Laser and Ultrasound-assisted Liposuction
Cool Lipo
Lipolite Laser Liposculpture
VASER Liposelection

Cellulite Treatment
Accent XL
Body Jet

For a list of questions to ask your surgeon about liposuction, click here.