One of the most popular procedures in plastic and cosmetic surgery, liposuction is well publicised. This removes excess fat from localised areas of the body. The total number of fat cells in an adult is fixed. Therefore, removing some of the fat cells by this procedure is a permanent loss of fat cells. Coupled with a healthy and sensible lifestyle, the improvement achieved by liposuction can be maintained. The remaining fat cells may become ‘plumpier’ if the patient is not careful with their dietary habits. Liposuction is never to be considered as a shortcut for losing excess body weight. In some patients, where the skin does not have the elasticity, inappropriate liposuction may actually result in further looseness of skin. Liposuction is sometimes used as an additional procedure to improve results following: facelift, breast reduction, abdominoplasty and male breast reduction (gynaecomastia).
Liposuction is removal of fat cells by using a powerful vacuum. The common technique involves infiltrating the area to be treated with a solution of saline, local anaesthetic and other drugs to minimise bleeding. This technique is call ‘wet liposuction’. This helps to break up the fat cells before suction. The liposuction cannulas are inserted through small cuts in the skin. Each area treated may require two or three different cuts along the edges.
As the liposuction technique uses high vacuum and vigorous movement of the cannula most patients would have some amount of bruising in the treated areas. Newer liposuction cannulas and machines have reduced this problem. It is common to use a supportive garment after the procedure. This should be worn for up to 2-3 weeks regularly to achieve additional support as well as to maintain the shape from the procedure.
Some patients may show slight irregularities of the treated area due to uneven scarring further to liposuction. In the extreme cases of contour deformity, fat may need to be transferred back under the skin to plump them up to achieve a better improvement. Risk of infection is very low with this procedure. Patients experience some discomfort for up to 7-10 days time.