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Liposuction Surgery Information - Technique Variations

Oct 16, 2007
Fluid Injection, a technique in which a medicated solution is injected into fatty areas before the fat is removed, is commonly used by plastic surgeons today. The fluid -- a mixture of intravenous salt solution, lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine (a drug that contracts blood vessels) -- helps the fat be removed more easily, reduces blood loss and provides anesthesia during and after surgery. Fluid injection also helps to reduce the amount of bruising after surgery.

The amount of fluid that is injected varies depending on the preference of the surgeon.

Large volumes of fluid -- sometimes as much as three times the amount of fat to be removed -- are injected in the tumescent technique. Tumescent liposuction, typically performed on patients who need only a local anesthetic, usually takes significantly longer than traditional liposuction (sometimes as long as 4 to 5 hours). However, because the injected fluid contains an adequate amount of anesthetic, additional anesthesia may not be necessary. The name of this technique refers to the swollen and firm or "tumesced" state of the fatty tissues when they are filled with solution.

The super-wet technique is similar to the tumescent technique, except that lesser amounts of fluid are used. Usually the amount of fluid injected is equal to the amount of fat to be removed. This technique often requires IV sedation or general anesthesia and typically takes one to two hours of surgery time.

Ultrasound-Assisted Lipoplasty (UAL). This technique requires the use of a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. As it passes through the areas of fat, the energy explodes the walls of the fat cells, liquefying the fat. The fat is then removed with the traditional liposuction technique.

UAL has been shown to improve the ease and effectiveness of liposuction in fibrous areas of the body, such as the upper back or the enlarged male breast. It is also commonly used in secondary procedures, when enhanced precision is needed. In general, UAL takes longer to perform than traditional liposuction.

Power Assisted Liposuction
Lipoplasty (liposuction) has proven to be a very popular surgical cosmetic procedure; see current American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) statistics. Power-Assisted Lipoplasty (PAL) is a relatively new technique, approved for general use by the FDA in December 1998, and is not yet widely used. Most lipoplasty procedures are performed using traditional suction-assisted lipoplasty (SAL) and certain procedures can benefit from ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL).

Technique:
In PAL, a reciprocating cannula, or hollow tube (powered by gas or electricity) powers through tissue and vacuums out fat and fibrous or scarred tissue reportedly with minimal effort. The back and forth motion of the tip of the cannula facilitates passage through tissue.

Benefits:
Procedure may be gentler for the patient, possibly causing less bruising, swelling and discomfort.

May provide a more rapid recovery, with quicker return to work and activities.

Patients may spend less time in the operating room and under anesthesia than with other lipoplasty techniques.
About the Author
Dave Stringham is the President of LookingYourBest.com an online resource for plastic surgery procedures. Learn more about liposuction and other plastic surgery procedures.
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