Liposuction Surgery: Techniques
Liposuction is usually an outpatient procedure, for convenience and more affordable costs. It may be performed in a surgeon’s office-based operating room.
The incisions that the surgeon makes are small and heal quickly. In the tumescent technique, the surgeon injects large amounts of fluid into fatty areas before performing liposuction. The fluid contains a local anesthetic to alleviate pain and blood vessel constricting drugs to minimize blood loss. This fluid causes the sections of fat to become tumesced, or swollen or firm. These expanded sections of fat allow the liposuction cannula to travel smoothly beneath the skin as the fat is removed.
Postoperatively, the use of tumescent liposuction results in fewer skin irregularities, less bleeding, reduced bruising and a faster recovery. It is performed as an outpatient procedure, avoiding a costly hospital stay. It may be performed under local or general anesthesia.
There are certain risks involved when patients have heart problems, particularly the possibility that injecting large amounts of fluid may result in congestive heart failure. However with proper patient selection this risk is markedly diminished. Tumescent liposuction has had an excellent safety profile since it was first used.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) is a more recent modification of the liposuction technique. However, the heat generated by ultrasonic energy may create the added risk of burns in the treated areas if done by an inexperienced surgeon.
In tumescent liposuction the incisions are left open to allow the draining of fluids. A compression garment is worn in addition to pads to absorb the fluids over the incision areas. The compression garment is one of the most important aspects of recovery. It is a tight fitting garment much like spandex and holds the area of the body firmly. An ideal garment fits tightly but comfortably and allows the use of absorptive pads underneath. The patient is instructed to wear the elastic garment over the treated area for a few weeks.
It is common to have a bruising and swelling in the affected areas during the first few days after surgery, and you may continue to feel bruised for several weeks. The compression garment helps to ease the swelling. Most of the swelling and bruising should disappear within two weeks or so.
Take the pain medication prescribed by your surgeon to control whatever discomfort you feel.
Most patients can walk around after surgery, but it is best to keep all activity to low impact for the first week. Most patients return to work after 2 to 3 days. Although you will feel much better after two days, it may take several weeks before you’re back to normal. Your surgeon will give you guidelines about when you can resume your normal activities. Usually, for two to three weeks after surgery, he will ask you to avoid strenuous activities such as sports or sexual relations as these will increase your blood pressure.
Do NOT soak in a jacuzzi, bathtub, swimming pool, or ocean for at least seven days after the surgery to avoid infection.
A healthy well-balanced diet is important in maintaining the postoperative results as well as in ensuring excellent healing during the convalescence. After surgery, your surgeon will instruct you to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. You should avoid all alcoholic beverages.
Your skin will naturally reshape and tighten over the sculpted area. This is part of the healing process. Depending on the surgical technique used by the doctor, there may be slight waviness or visible lumps. Postoperative massage and ultrasound therapy is done over these areas and these usually will disappear within 6 months.
In the months after surgery, your surgeon will schedule frequent follow-up visits to check on the progress of your healing. In between visits to your surgeon, if you notice anything unusual or have any questions about symptoms, or what you are allowed to do, don’t hesitate to call him.
Liposuction is generally safe when the patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped, and most importantly, when the surgeon is properly trained. Having considered these factors, many satisfied patients have experienced how, in a few hours, liposuction can effectively eliminate the localized fat which seemed almost impossible to get rid of.