Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery procedure to remove unwanted body fat. Areas of the body where liposuction is used include the buttocks, hips, thighs, abdomen, loins, chin, neck, upper arms, breasts, knees, calves and ankles.
Although liposuction gets rid of unwanted fat, this may not have a permanent effect unless lifestyle changes are also made to help prevent the fat coming back.
The procedure is also sometimes called liposculpture or suction-assisted lipectomy.
Risks of liposuction
No cosmetic procedure is without risks. These should be discussed with the cosmetic surgeon. Risks include:
Who is a good candidate for liposuction?
A good candidate for liposuction is someone who has realistic expectations about the results of this procedure as well as these basic qualities:
- Average or only slightly above-average weight
- Firm elastic skin
- Good overall health
- Concentrated pockets of fat that do not respond well to diet and exercise
Patients with poor skin quality ( cellulite) are not good candidates for liposuction because they may develop skin irregularities due to under or over correction of localised fat deposits. Age is generally not a major consideration with liposuction. However, older patients often have less elasticity in their skin and so may not achieve the same benefits from liposuction as a younger patient with tighter skin.
What do I need to know before undergoing liposuction?
The first step before having liposuction is to arrange a consultation with your cosmetic surgeon. The cosmetic surgery body BAAPS recommends choosing a surgeon who is an accredited plastic surgeon trained in liposuction.
During the consultation, your surgeon will discuss which options are best for you, your skin type, the effectiveness and safety of the procedure, the potential financial cost and what your expectations should be. Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Now is not the time to be shy.
Once you have decided to have liposuction, your cosmetic surgeon will give you any instructions you need to prepare for the surgery. These may include dietary guidelines, alcohol restrictions and instructions on any vitamins you should take or avoid. Make sure you tell your surgeon about any allergies you have and any medications you are taking. This includes over-the-counter and prescription medications as well as herbal supplements.
How is the liposuction procedure done?
Depending on the type of liposuction you have, the procedure may be performed as a day case, or if large amounts of fat are being removed you may have to stay overnight.
Before the procedure begins you will be given an anaesthetic. Again, depending on the amount of fat being removed and the type of liposuction being performed, anaesthesia varies. It may be a local anaesthetic if only a small area is being treated or an epidural if only the lower body is being treated, Most often the treatment is done under general anaesthetic which means you will be asleep during the treatment.
Once the anaesthesia has taken effect, the liposuction procedure is performed using a suction device attached to a small stainless steel instrument called a cannula. Through small incisions, the cannula is inserted into fatty areas between skin and muscle where it removes excess fat either using a suction pump or a large syringe. This results in a smoother and improved body contour. The length of the procedure will vary depending on the amount of fat that needs to be removed.