Liposuction is a very common set of surgical procedures employed to produce improvements in the contours of the body. A number of methods can be utilized to achieve the desired outcome, with the procedure chosen to match the particular problem area. Ideal patients are those with very specific areas of concern that would benefit from surgical management. These are very common, typically with patients presenting in otherwise optimum shape and with specific problem sites that are resistant to diet and exercise. Frequently, these areas are very easy to identify and isolate, and liposuction procedures chosen to best sculpt these areas to fall in line with the rest of the body to produce a more harmonious contour. Frequent sites include the inner and outer thighs, the abdomen, and the flank and upper hip. Frequently, the lateral chest, the upper arm and the upper inner knee can benefit from liposuction procedures. Very often, liposuction is employed as an adjunct procedure during other operations such as abdominoplasty or breast reduction.
There are a number of procedures and techniques within the spectrum of liposuction. Common to them is an apparatus that removes excess adipose (fat) that exists within the specific area of contour or concern. The specific requirements of each patient will determine the exact method and apparatus that is utilized. A cannula, or smooth tube is used to disrupt, loosen and remove the excess fat tissue, using the cannula not only as a tool to remove the tissue, but also and importantly, as a tool to sculpt the remaining tissue and fat to optimize the contour. This is the most essential step in ensuring a smooth final outcome. In most cases, a technique termed “wetting” or “tumescence” is used to facilitate the sculpting process and to limit oozing and bruising. Foam dressings and snug garments are then fitted immediately following the procedure. Many liposuction procedures are performed with a general anesthetic, though often local anesthesia with sedation is appropriate when the scope of the operation is more limited. Liposuction is usually performed on an outpatient basis.
Most patients are fairly mobile after the operation. Return to work and exercise is typically within a few days to a week. Depending on the surgical sites addressed, some swelling is expected which gradually subsides within three to six weeks. Tight garments effectively limit swelling and bruising, and these are worn for two to four weeks.