Questions & Answers
Questions & Answers about Liposuction (Suction-Assisted Lipectomy)
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What is liposuction?
Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits, improving body contour and proportion, and ultimately, enhances your self-image. A suction tube is inserted through a tiny incision placed in an inconspicuous location and removes the unwanted fat under negative pressure suction.
Despite proper diet and exercise, some people may still have a body with disproportionate contours due to localized fat deposits. These areas may be due to family traits rather than a lack of weight control or exercise.
Liposuction is not a replacement for good dieting habits and exercise. It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite, the dimpled skin that typically appears on thighs, hips and buttocks.
Healthy people who are not overweight with stubborn areas of fat are the best candidates for this procedure.
What areas can be treated with liposuction?
Liposuction surgery can be used to treat stubborn fat pockets in many parts of the body including:
- Abdomen and waist
- Thighs, hips and buttocks
- Arms, neck and back
- Inner knee
- Cheeks and chin
- Calves and ankles
What is the recovery period?
The recovery time varies with how many areas are treated and the type of activity the patient intends to resume. Most patients are able to resume normal activity (light housekeeping, walking, etc) within 2-3 days, but in some cases 6-7 days of recovery may be necessary. You will be asked to refrain from raising your blood pressure with activity for the first 1-2 weeks as this can cause swelling to worsen.
Will there be bandages or stitches?
While there are no bandages, there are small sutures in each area where the liposuction cannula was inserted. These sutures are absorbable and do not have to be removed. You will wear a special compression garment under your clothing for 1-2 weeks to help with swelling.
What happens to the excess skin after liposuction?
The skin has a natural elasticity and generally shrinks well to the new contour. In areas where there is already significantly loose skin, the contraction may not be sufficient. In those cases, excess skin excision may be necessary. A careful consultation with your plastic surgeon can answer these questions specifically for your situation.
Will the fat regrow in the area liposuctioned? Will it return to other areas?
During liposuction not only is fat removed but fat cells are removed as well. After puberty fat cells will not reproduce. Consequently some fat cells are permanently removed. However, liposuction does not remove all the fat cells in an area. The remaining cells can expand if your weight increases. If your weight remains stable after liposuction, the results should last indefinitely.
Can the procedure be repeated?
Liposuction can be repeated although it is seldom necessary. It does however become more difficult to repeat liposuction in an area that has undergone liposuction in the past.
How much pain is there and how is it controlled?
The discomfort from liposuction is similar to that of bad bruise. When left alone the areas of liposuction tend not to hurt, however, if you press on these areas they tend to be tender just as a bruised area would be. Anti-inflammatory medications and occasional use of narcotic pain pills in the first few days usually provides more than adequate pain control.
How long does bruising persist?
Bruising is not common, however, it does occasionally occur. In those cases the bruising typically clears between 7 and 14 days after the procedure.
How long does swelling persist?
Swelling increases the first 4-5 days and then starts to decrease. It takes approximately 6 weeks for 80% of the swelling to decrease and another 3 months for the remaining 20% to dissipate. Wearing the compression garment as long as Dr. Nein suggests will help with the swelling.
Can I get liposuction instead of a tummy tuck?
These are not really interchangeable procedures. Liposuction treats excess fat in specific areas. A tummy tuck in addition to treating fat of the stomach also removes excess skin and tightens weaken or lax abdominal wall muscles (common after pregnancies). It is, however, common to have liposuction done as part of a tummy tuck. Your plastic surgeon will be able to advise you which of these procedures will offer you the best result.