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Frequently Asked Questions About Liposuction

Oct 20, 2007
A good candidate for liposuction should have realistic expectations about the results of this procedure as well as these basic qualities: Average or slightly above-average weight, firm, elastic skin good overall health, concentrated pockets of fat that do not respond well to diet and exercise

What Do I Need To Know Before Undergoing Liposuction?
During an initial consultation your plastic surgeon will evaluated your health, assess the condition of your skin, and discuss the options that are best for you. Body contouring methods that are appropriate for your particular situation, the effectiveness and safety of the procedure, and your expectations will be discussed in detail.

Once you have decided to undergo liposuction, your plastic surgeon will give you the necessary instructions that you will need to prepare for the surgery.

How Is Liposuction Performed?
In general, liposuction procedures use small incisions in selected areas and with a high vacuum suction device attached to a small, stainless steel instrument called a cannula, remove fat cells. After the fat is removed, sutures (stitches) will be used to close the incisions, followed by the application of a dressing and compression garment (girdle) to minimize the post-operative swelling.

Are There Different Liposuction Techniques?
Though the basics of liposuction remain the same, there are different techniques that can be used during liposuction. "Tumescent Liposuction" During this technique the plastic surgeon will inject a medicated solution into the fatty areas before the fat is removed. The solution is a mixture of intravenous salt water, a local anesthetic (lidocaine) and a drug that contracts the blood vessels (epinephrine).

This fluid injection helps the fat to be removed more easily, reduces blood loss and bruising after surgery, and provides anesthesia during and after the surgery. The amount of fluid injected varies and depends on the preference of the surgeon. "Ultrasound-Assisted Lipoplasty (UAL) This technique requires the use of a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. As the ultrasonic energy passes through the areas of fat it causes the fat cells to liquefy. The fat is then removed with the traditional liposuction technique.

Because the fat is liquid at the time that it is removed, UAL is smoother and mechanically more efficient. UAL also minimizes trauma, resulting in less bruising and blood loss and especially improves the ease and effectiveness of liposuction in fibrous areas of the body.

What Are The Risks And Complications Of Liposuction?
Undergoing any surgical procedure may involve the risk of complications such as the effects of anesthesia, infection, swelling, bleeding, and pain. Liposuction is normally safe and with minimal risks and possible complications when patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped, and the physician is adequately trained.

Liposuction is the most frequently performed cosmetic surgical procedure and has a very good safety record when performed in accordance with the recommendations of the Lipoplasty Society.

What Type Of Anesthesia Is Required When Having Liposuction?
Various types of anesthesia can be used for liposuction procedures. If a small of amount of fat is being removed from a limited number of areas local anesthesia with a light sedative to make you feel drowsy and relaxed may be considered. When treating larger areas, general anesthesia is typically used causing you to be asleep during the procedure. Together, you and surgeon will select the type of anesthesia that provides the most safe and effective level of comfort for your surgery.

On What Areas Of The Body Can Liposuction Be Done?
Common locations for liposuction include the chin, cheeks, neck, upper arms, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankles.

Can Liposuction Be Done On More Than One Area At The Same Time?
Liposuction can be done on more than one area at the same time if the amount of fat removed does not exceed the recommended amount within the limits of safety.

How Long Is Recovery After Liposuction?
Every person's outcome will vary based on factors such as volume of fat cells removed and area/s of removal. Under most circumstances, liposuction is an outpatient procedure. Depending on the areas treated, most people are able to return to work within a few days to a week and to most normal activities within two to three weeks.

Immediately, after surgery, it is necessary to continuously wear a support garment for three to four weeks. Bruising, swelling and soreness can be expected for at least a few weeks.

Are The Results Of Liposuction Permanent?
Liposuction may be performed in a surgeon's office-based facility, in an outpatient surgery center, or in a hospital. Smaller-volume liposuction is usually done on an outpatient basis for reasons of cost and convenience. If a large volume of fat will be removed, or if the liposuction is being performed in conjunction with other procedures, a stay in a hospital or overnight nursing facility may be required.

How Long Does Liposuction Take?
The time to perform liposuction may vary considerably, generally requiring between one to four hours, depending on the size of area, the amount of fat being removed, the type of anesthesia and the technique being used.

How Do I Prepare For Liposuction?
Prior to your surgical procedure, your surgeon will perform a complete health history and physical examination to evaluate your overall weight, your skin and muscle tone and overall distribution of fat deposits. Knowledge of your allergies, medications and previous surgeries should be brought to your surgeon's attention at this time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing for this procedure will be given to you after the health history and physical are complete.

Instructions will be given that include guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking and which medications to take and avoid. You should also make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive you to and from your procedure and to assist you with your daily activities during your recovery period.

What Can I Expect After My Liposuction Procedure?
Don't expect to feel or to look great following your surgery. Even though the newer techniques are believed to reduce post-operative discomforts, you may still experience some pain, burning, swelling, bleeding and temporary numbness. You will be wearing a snug elastic garment over the treated areas to control swelling and bruising immediately following your surgery.

You may also experience some drainage from the incisions sites for a day or two following surgery. Pain can be controlled with medicates prescribed by your plastic surgeon, though you still may feel stiff and sore for several days.

When Can I Resume My Normal Activities?
Healing following liposuction is usually gradual. You will be encouraged to start walking around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and to prevent any possible blood clot from forming in your legs. You usually are able to return to work within a few days and will begin to feel progressively better over the next two weeks.

Strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month as your body continues to heal. Although most of the swelling and bruising usually resolve in the first four to six weeks, final results of surgery may not be fully realized for six months or longer after surgery.

How Is The Cost Of Liposuction Determined?
The cost of liposuction is determined by several factors: In what geographic area do you live? Anesthesiologist and plastic surgeons fees? Where will your surgery be done, in the hospital, surgery center, or office? The number of areas requiring liposuction? An exact quote will be given at the conclusion of your consultation with a plastic surgeon following examination and evaluation.

Can I have more than one area treated at the same time?
Yes, more than one area can be injected at the same time.
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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