If you have some stubborn spots on your body that refuse to get slimmer - even with exercise and dieting - then liposuction may be something you might consider. Liposuction is a surgical procedure that helps shape and contour body areas by removing fat deposits.
Results are most often measured in terms of patient happiness as a function of safety, comfort (before and after surgery), finesse, and visible cosmetic improvement(s). The fat cells are permanently removed during liposuction and weight gained following the procedure will typically not gather in the area performed. However - to maintain optimal results - patients should maintain a healthy diet and exercise regime as liposuction is not meant to be a form of weight loss and does not prevent future weight gain.
Areas of the Body You Can Get Liposuction
You can get liposuction on problem areas such as the abdomen, hips, thighs, arms, buttocks, back, neck, female breasts, and face. Other fatty areas that benefit from liposuction include, “buffalo humps” (the deposit of fat on the upper back and neck), bra fat, “belly pooch” (the fat localized around the lower belly, but not throughout the abdomen), “double-chins” (the area underneath the mandible and the jowl), “bat wings” (the loose upper arm skin located in the triceps region), and “muffin tops” (fat pockets on either side of the abdomen and back that tend to spill over the waistband of pants).
While liposuction is typically a cosmetic procedure for body contouring and beautification, the procedure can sometimes be used for medical purposes. Men, for instance, can use liposuction to reduce their breasts if they live with gynecomastia (a condition in which the fatty and glandular tissue of the chest are over-developed). In less extreme cases, however, surgeons and patients may opt for a breast lift instead. Liposuction can also help remove lipomas, which are benign tumors of fatty tissue.
Liposuction is a surgical method designed to slim parts of the male or female body. As a general rule, liposuction works best when targeting deposits of fat rather than sagging skin. Included below is information on four popular areas that can benefit from liposuction.
The submental (below the chin) fat compartment is located in the area underneath the mandible and the jowl. This compartment plays an important role in the appearance of a youthful neck, as well as in the overall attractiveness of the face. An excess of fat in the submental area tends to be coincident with a loss of the visible contour of the mandible, resulting in what is referred to as a “double chin.” In the vast majority of cases, the “double chin” is a result of the patient’s overall weight – this is the ideal scenario for a liposuction candidate.
For double chins resulting from skin laxity, however, liposuction is not the ideal treatment option. Results are most appealing when patients still have enough elasticity to the overlying skin to allow for a rebound effect after surgery. This procedure is comparatively brief, occupying only about 30 minutes of time, and often takes place in the clinic itself. Commonly, local anaesthesia will be employed; occasionally, oral sedation may be necessary if the patient is nervous. Submental liposuction comprises roughly 25% of all liposuction procedures. While more women undergo the surgery than men, there is a growing number of males who are opting for the procedure.
The medical term for male breasts is “gynecomastia,” and it indicates a condition in which the fatty and glandular tissue of the chest are over-developed. Causes of this condition include a variety of habits, behaviours, and afflictions, such as obesity, steroid use, and hormone imbalances. Male breasts can be among the more complex liposuction procedures, given the relative density of the male chest. In less extreme scenarios, surgeons and patients opt to treat the condition using a breast lift instead.
If liposuction is decided upon as the desired response, liposuction is a popular option for gynecomastia, as it is minimally invasive and effectively differentiates between fat and vital tissues such as nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. As is the case for liposuction on numerous other bodily areas, the procedure involves the insertion of a cannula, which is carefully moved in a back-and-forth motion, to loosen the excess fat. Surgeons then remove the fat from the body using vacuum suction. In cases where the areola requires reduction or the nipple is being repositioned, the surgeon will tend to use excision, where lumps of adipose tissue are removed using external cuts. Excision can be used in conjunction with or instead of traditional liposuction.
“Bat wings” are the colloquial term for loose upper arm skin located in the triceps region. In this procedure, surgeons make small incisions of less than one centimetre for fat extraction. A successful surgery results in a reduction of arm circumference and an overall slimmer appearance. As in all cases, liposuction for “bat wings” is optimal if the targeted area is comprised of fat; it is not the preferred treatment if the skin flaps are the result of loose, aged skin. In the latter scenario doctors recommend a brachioplasty, also known as an “arm lift,” to re-smooth and contour the area.
The disadvantage of this alternative is that it requires larger incisions and internal sutures, which leaves a scar in virtually all cases. However, in some cases, both liposuction and brachioplasty are carried out. Both procedures require either general anaesthesia or local anaesthesia with sedation, and frequently take between one and two hours to complete. Unlike many liposuction procedures that target larger areas of the body, patients can return home on the day of surgery. In subsequent days, patients are recommended to limit arm movement as much as possible. Practitioners will provide a compression garment to restrict motion, which will help reduce swelling.
The area on the body commonly referred to as the “muffin top” refers to fat pockets on either side of the abdomen and back that tend to spill over the waistband of pants. As this localized area of fat is difficult to hide underneath clothes, clients often undergo the procedure as a response to their embarrassment with the conspicuousness of these fat deposits.
The frequency of the procedure is due in large part to the region’s particular resistance to exercise and diet. Liposuction on this area commonly involves the removal of the uppermost layers of fat from the waistline to increase the practitioner’s ability to "sculpt" the area. Depending on the scale of the procedure, the doctor may ask the patient to wear elasticized shorts in the treated area to reduce swelling.
There are numerous liposuction techniques available ranging from those that are no longer considered safe (such as Dry Liposuction) to those that meet more current industry standards (such as Tumescent Liposuction). Depending on the liposuction technique chosen and the amount of fat removed, the performing surgeon may choose to use either local or general anaesthetic. Below are the most common techniques for liposuction:
1. Tumescent Liposuction
Tumescent technique, the safest and most common form of liposuction performed currently, involves the surgeon injecting a fluid combination of epinephrine (adrenaline), lidocaine (local anaesthetic), and saline solution into the targeted fatty tissue. Epinephrine constricts the blood vessels, which helps minimize blood loss during fat removal. The targeted tissue also becomes swollen and firm because of the solution, allowing for easier extraction.
Tumescent Liposuction is viewed as the safest method for liposuction as it has reduced blood loss to as little as 1%. Other benefits include the fact that it has made certain procedures that used to require general or epidural anaesthesia now feasible with only local anaesthetic. The use of a localized anaesthetic such as lidocaine permits surgeons a window of 10 hours for surgery to safely take place, and allows the patient to avoid the post-operative nausea and vomiting associated with general anaesthesia.
2. Ultrasonic-Assisted Liposuction (UAL)
Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction (UAL) is a liposuction technique involving the use of a large amount of tumescent fluid (causing swelling in the tissue) in conjunction with a metal probe, which delivers ultrasonic energy and heat into targeted subcutaneous fat. This technique utilizes high-pitched sound waves to liquefy fat cells, making them easier for the surgeon to remove via vacuum-suction. This technique facilitates the excavation of undesired fat from more difficult body areas. It should be noted, however, that Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction carries a high risk of full-thickness skin burns and scarring compared to other liposuction techniques, because of the heat generated by the ultrasonic energy.
3. Laser-Assisted Liposuction ((SmartLipo))
Laser-assisted liposuction was introduced as an alternative to the manual methods of liposuction. Clinic 360 uses SmartLipo technology, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006. SmartLipo employs a thin laser fiber that enters through an incision in the skin and applies bursts of low-energy waves (1064-nm wavelength) to liquefy fat.
Among the most noted advantages of this technique over traditional methods is its ability to target specific areas, a precision afforded by a smaller cannula (the metal instrument that houses the laser itself). Unlike traditional liposuction, which uses 3-5 mm cannulas, this new technology employs a significantly smaller 1-mm diameter cannula. The incisions for SmartLipo techniques are consequently minimal in size and number, depending on how many areas are treated, thus also reducing the risk of scarring post-surgery.
Liposuction vs Tummy Tuck
While pop culture may casually toss around the terms “liposuction” and “tummy tucks” when describing slimming cosmetic surgeries, there is a difference between the two. Areas of the body that liposuction can treat include (but are not limited to) the stomach, the face and neck, legs, chest, flanks, back, arms, and buttocks.
A tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty), however, focuses on the midsection exclusively. And while liposuction is primarily geared towards individuals who carry an excessive amount of fat, abdominoplasty is well suited to post-bariatric cases, where patients have large amounts of loose skin, possibly because of recent extreme weight loss.
Liposuction & Fat Transfer
Many patients who opt for liposuction now also seek out the aesthetic benefits of fat transfer. Through liposuction, adipose tissue can be harvested and used for various fat transfer procedures. These procedures suction out adipose tissue and subsequently use a centrifuge to collect it. While the tissue is quite fragile during removal, medical advances in the field of liposuction have increased the survival rate of adipose cells to 80 to 90 percent in the majority of techniques.
There are a number of possible fat transfer procedures. Lipografting (also known as ‘fat grafting’), for instance, can be used to smooth out dermal regions affected by acne, scarring, injury, or past surgeries. Autologous fat grafting, another fat transfer procedure, can also help reconstruct female breasts after single- or double-mastectomies.
The Risks of Liposuction
Though modern liposuction is considered to be a safe, routine procedure, it is still surgery and as such does carry certain risks of complications. The main risks, complications, and unpleasant side-effects associated with liposuction include infection, embolism, inflammation, organ and nerve damage, skin death, burns, excessive bruising, toxicity from anaesthesia, and, in rare cases, fatality.
All risks associated with liposuction can be exacerbated if a large area is being operated on, a high volume of fat is being removed, or more than one procedure is being performed on the same day. This includes doing “complementary” cosmetic procedures such as tummy tucks, face-lifts, and breast reductions. That said, most patients do not experience major complications.
Liposuction procedures themselves are often completed in a single day. In the majority of cases, patients spend several hours in the at the clinic, but are permitted to return home on the same day. However, time is increased when a general anaesthetic is employed prior to surgery. Apart from exceptional circumstances, doctors will keep patients who received general anaesthetic in medical care at the clinic overnight. Following the procedure, the patient should try to sleep as much as possible to accelerate the body’s natural ability to recuperate.
Following surgery, doctors will administer painkillers (analgesics) designed to reduce the patient’s physical discomfort as well as minimize the swelling of the surgical area. It is common for patients to experience swelling and bruising in the areas where incisions and stitching occurred. Compression garments and elasticized bandages are prescribed immediately afterward to discourage and contain swelling—these should be worn for several weeks. In the weeks following the procedure, patients are responsible for the care and disinfection of stitches and should be as vigilant as their circumstances permit. The surgeon who performed the procedure will provide an information package on how to properly clean affected areas.