Liposuction and Liposculpture
As one of the most common procedures performed in the US, liposuction may be more prevalent than you might think. It simply involves using suction to remove fat from various parts of the body. The fat is pulled out through a tube. It can be done in large or small amounts. More than one part of the body can be done at the same time.
Liposculpture, on the other hand, can be a bit more complex. It involves reshaping in large or small amounts depending on the area. This process is called contouring. It can involves not only removing fat, but also putting it back in a different place (fat injecting). While it may be tougher on the plastic surgeon to perform, it allows for more control over the final shape of the patient’s body. Either of these procedures can be combined with other plastic surgeries, like tummy tuck, breast augmentation, breast lift or body lift.
Uses and Limitations of Liposuction
Liposuction can be used on many parts of the body. These include the arms, legs (from thigh to knee), stomach, back, neck, and hips. While the procedure is possible on other areas, it is rare. It should be used for removing fat that has not gone away with diet and exercise.
Liposuction can be used on a variety of areas for both men and women. That said, it is good to note what it can’t do:
- It cannot change the shape of parts of the body that are not covered in fatty tissue.
- It will not improve cellulite.
- It will not get rid of dimpled skin.
- It cannot be used in place of regular weight loss actions like eating a good diet and getting exercise.
- It is important to understand the risks of liposuction and follow the liposuction instructions.
Dr. Michael J Brown
*Liposuction will not improve the dimpled skin known as cellulite. Diet and exercise may be used to help reduce body fat. Liposuction is not a weight reduction. It is a surgery for removing fat that is resistant to diet and exercise.
The Liposuction Process
Usually during liposuction the patient is asleep the whole time. The tube used for the fat removal is called a cannula. This is inserted through a small incision. It is attached to the suction device to pull the fat out of the body. During this process, a solution is also put into the body. This is done to reduce the amount of bleeding and provide more numbing. The amount of fat that can be removed varies for each person and for each spot treated. The fluid removed will consist of both fat and the wetting solution. After the fat has been removed, the small incisions are closed.
Right after the procedure, a support garment must be worn. This will help to support the healing process. It will also help to ensure a good result. This garment needs to be worn for up to three weeks. Patients should avoid strenuous activities right after the procedure. That said, they can start exercising again after two or three weeks. The actual healing time depends on how extensive the fat removal was. It also depends on how many areas were treated at the same time. Bruising may be minor or extensive depending on how large the area addressed and which areas were recontoured.
Potential Risks of Liposuction
While very few patients have any problems, you should be aware of the liposuction risks before you decide to have this done. Here are just a few of the liposuction risks:
- Infection: Antibiotics are used to fight this. That said, sometimes further surgery is needed if it occurs.
- Allergic reactions: Anyone can have a reaction to anesthesia, stitches, tape, or any of the drugs or surgical preparations. Reactions to antibiotics or other medicines are also possible after the procedure. Allergic reactions can be fatal.
- Loss of sensation: Any loss of feeling is probably temporary. However, it is possible that total loss of sensation in the skin may happen and can be permanent.
- Asymmetric results: The body’s structure will affect the end result. Bone structure, skin tone, skin texture, and muscle tone all play a part in the result. As such, it is possible that the result will be uneven.
- Excessive bleeding: This can be during or after the procedure. You will receive a list of medications to avoid before and after the procedure; some of these can increase bleeding risk. It is important to follow the instructions you get. If bleeding occurs, it may need to be treated or a transfusion may be needed.
- Fat embolism: While quite rare, it is possible for fat to get into the lungs and be trapped there. If this happens, it can cause death.
- Abnormal scarring: The scars are usually very small. That said, it is possible for deeper scars to form in the tissues or on the skin.
- Skin death: Skin loss may occur and will need to be treated.
- Changes to the contour of the skin: Sometimes lines that can be seen and felt might show up on the skin after the procedure. The skin might also wrinkle.
- Fluid buildup (seroma): This is possible anywhere the liposuction was performed. It may need to be drained or removed with a needle.
- Shock: Even though liposuction seems straightforward, it does involve trauma to the body. This may lead to surgical shock. Trauma, infections, or fluid loss can all cause illness, and can even cause death.
I wanted liposuction because I had problems with my stomach and thick thighs. With my weight and measurements, I could not wear most of the clothes in my closet. I was unhappy with my body and I wanted liposuction. When I thought of liposuction, I was afraid of how much it would cost. I got on the internet and looked for the best plastic surgeon in my area and I found Dr. Brown. I went for the consultation, and I was amazed at what he explained to me. I showed him my problem areas, and he told me that he could help to reduce the size of my thighs and abdomen. I had the surgery and had eight liters of fat and fluid were removed. Dr. Brown carefully monitored my progress with several follow-up visits. He made sure that everything went well. By two months after the liposuction, I had dropped from a size 14 to a size 10, and I am still losing weight and my body is still shrinking! I am ecstatic with my liposuction results.P.B.
When NOT to get Liposuction
Even though it is quite common, there are some people who are not well suited for liposuction. For example, anyone with pre-existing conditions that might complicate the procedure should avoid it. Those who are obese should first reach a better weight before attempting liposuction. Those with poor skin tone may not have good results and should avoid the procedure. Finally, it is not advised that someone should get this done if they have unrealistic expectations of what it can achieve.
Other Treatments to Avoid
As long as you do not fall into one of the categories above, liposuction may be a good option. There are, however, some bad options on the market that should be avoided. Two of these are mesotherapy and lipolysis.
Putting medicine into the skin may seem like a simple idea. In fact, that’s the idea behind mesotherapy. It uses injections to put medicines and other products into the skin’s deep layers (the mesoderm).
Mesotherapy promises outcomes like helping with hair loss, treating sports injuries, reducing cellulite or wrinkles, and even improving pain. The solutions used in the injections are highly concentrated forms of common things like vitamins, hormones, enzymes, pain relievers, minerals, and more. Often they are a mix of these. The catch is that the actual mix is not always known, which creates a high level of risk. Even when the label lists the contents, it is often unclear what the true mix is. In essence, you’re injecting an unknown substance into the body.
As such, the effects are also unknown. This practice never gained a stronghold in the US, even though it has been around since the 1990s. In fact, the CDC even advised that mesotherapy was the cause of skin infections and ulcers for some patients. It is not a form of liposuction and is not recommended.
Lipolysis is, in a way, a mix of the ideas of liposuction and mesotherapy. Like mesotherapy, it uses injections of compounds as a treatment. Like liposuction, it aims to reduce fat. The way it claims to do this is by using injecting compounds that are meant to dissolve fat directly into the fatty tissue. (Mesotherapy, on the other hand, injects into the skin. Liposuction removes fat rather than trying to dissolve it). Lipodissolve is actually one of the brand names for lipolysis. Another is Lipostabil. Even more are created by individuals and sold under their own names.
Lipolysis claims to dissolve fat, but instead what it does is kills fat cells. One of the main ingredients found in almost all forms of lipolysis is PPC, which is not FDA-approved. When examining the deep tissues of patients who have had this done, researchers found scars, dead cells, inflammation, and evidence of collagen deposits. This implies that the treatment was killing the living cells. The treatment also has a lot of common side effects, including stinging, burning, redness, itching, swelling, bruising, pain, and tenderness.
Despite all of this, and despite the fact that it is not FDA-approved, lipolysis continues to be offered. It is marketed everywhere, even without regulation. In addition to the lack of FDA approval, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) does not endorse its use. For all of these reasons, lipolysis is not a recommended treatment. Be wary of anyone who promotes this or other treatments that have not met the FDA guidelines. They may be offering unsafe treatments or may not be medically qualified to administer such treatments in the first place.
Liposuction & Plastic Surgery Referral
If you are considering liposuction or other plastic surgery and live in the Nashville, TN area, we recommend Dr Mary Gingrass and Dr Melinda Haws. These plastic surgeons are both well trained and well respected. Their practice name is The Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville. To learn more visit http://www.theplasticsurgerycenterofnashville.com.
George Washington University Professional Center
The Loudoun Center for Plastic Surgery
45155 Research Place, Suite 125
Ashburn, VA 20165