Liposuction also known as lipoplasty, lipo or lipesculture is a cosmetic surgery, which aims at breaking up and sucking fat from some body parts like the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, neck, upper and the backs of the arms, chin, back and calves. A hollow instrument called a cannula is used to remove the fat after it is inserted under the skin. High and powerful pressure is applied to this cannula. Up to now liposuction is the most common cosmetic operation in United Kingdom and in the USA. In a single year over 400,000 individuals undergo the procedure.
Patients, who undergo the procedure, typically have stable body weight although their aim is usually to remove any undesirable fat deposits in some specific body parts. Liposuction is not an overall body weight loss method and it is not an obesity treatment. It never removes cellulite, stretch marks or dimples. The procedures aim is usually esthetic–patients wish is usually to change and enhance their body contour.
Liposuction removes fat cells from the body permanently. Therefore, it alters the body shape. However, if a patient never leads a healthy lifestyle after this operation, the chances of the remaining fat cells growing bigger are usually high. Only a limited fat amount can be removed at a time. Liposuction also carries some risks, which include infections, scarring and numbness. If too much fat is removed at once, then you may get dents or lumpiness on your skin. Some health experts say that these surgical risks are associated with amount of fat removed. Some medical conditions that highly benefit from liposuction include lipomas, gynecomastia and lipodystrophy.
A short history of liposuction
Two Italian-American surgeons invented liposuction in the year 1974 although its roots date back to 1920s. The doctors were Giorgio and Arpad Fischer. In the year 1926 Dr Dujarier, a French surgeon conducted fat removal procedure on a model. Tragically the procedure resulted in mortification in one of her legs. Interest in body contouring consequently receded for several decades.
In late 1960s Leon Foster a European surgeon used curettage techniques which are considered primitive to remove body fats although the results were patchy and the procedures involved a lot of bleeding and high morbidity. Dr Yves Gerald Illouz started the modern liposuction with a presentation in the year 1982. What he started came to be known as Illouz method which is a suction assisted lipolysis technique.
The procedure breaks down or destroys fats after fluids are infused into the body tissues using very high pressure suction and blunt cannulae. Illouz managed to demonstrate both the low morbidity and the reproducible good results. During the decade, most US surgeons experimented with the procedure, developing some variations form the original Illouz Method and they attained varying results.
In the year 1985, Dr. Jeffrey Allan Klein and Patrick Lillis both from USA described the Tumescent Technique. The technique added some elevated volumes of liquid which contained local anesthetic and therefore the technique could be carried out in office settings under the intravenous seduction rather than the typical anesthesia. Some experts raised some concerns about high fluid volume and the lidocaine potential toxicity with tumescent techniques. This eventually led to lower volume super wet tumescence concept.
At the end of last century, ultrasound introduction facilitated fat removal which was initially liquefied via ultrasonic energy application. However, reports in complication cases increased. Recently, laser tipped probes which induce thermal lipolysis were introduced. How beneficial they are as compared to the traditional techniques is still to be determined.
Over last three decades, liposuction techniques advancement means that it is possible to remove larger number of fat cells and with less blood loss, discomfort, risk and moreover with short recovery period. Surgeons can also use fat as natural filler. They can take fat from one body part, clean it and then inject it into another body part. They apply this in enhancing the shape of buttocks and also to reduce wrinkles.
Liposuction primary use is to improve the looks of a person rather than provide physical health benefits. Mostly, a patient may probably attain the same results and at other times better ones in case they adopt a healthy diet, regular exercise and a good night sleep on daily basis.
Liposuction should only be used if an individual does not achieve a desired result with the lifestyle changes. For instance, if there are some fat obstinate areas which are resistant to diet and exercise. When a person gains weight every fat cell in the body increases in both volume and size.
Liposuction works effectively to reduce the number of body fat cells in some isolated body parts. The amount of fat cells removed from a body part highly depends on its appearance and the fat volume. The contour changes which result from liposuction can last for a long time provided that a patient’s weight does not increase.
A surgeon can only conduct liposuction on the relatively small body parts and the procedure is not an obesity treatment. The procedure can not be applied on a person who wants to get rid of cellulite, stretch marks, dimpling and any other skin surface irregularity.
Before you consider going for it, you should discuss its pros and cons with a primary care physician or a general practitioner. If you still want to go ahead, you should talk to a surgeon sincerely about why you want to do it, what you intend to gain out of it and your expectations.
Any major surgery carries bleeding risks, infections risks and anesthesia adverse reactions. Risks of complications depend on the procedure extent, the surgeon’s skills and the specific training. Some of the side effects associated with liposuction include
- Bad bruisingThis is usually the case when a patient has taken aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications. Patients with bleeding tendency are usually at a higher risk of bad bruising.
- InflammationIn some situations swellings may take even 6 months for them to settle. Further, fluid can continue to ooze from incisions.
- ThrombophlebitisBlood clots may form inside veins and therefore cause vein inflammation. This can affect liposuction patients and mostly inside the upper thigh and inside the knees.
- Contour irregularitiesIf a patient has healed in an irregular manner, has poor skin elasticity, or the fat removal was irregular, the skin can appear as withered, bumpy or even wavy. This undesirable result can be permanent.
- NumbnessYou may feel numb on the part worked on for a while. This is usually temporary and you may also experience temporary nerve irritations.
- InfectionsInfections are usually rare although skin infections may occur after the surgery. The infections need surgical treatment with scaring risk.
- Internal organ puncturesIf the cannula goes in very deeply, it may puncture one of the internal organs. In such cases further surgery is useful as internal organ punctures are usually life threatening.