Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
Any one or combination of the following conditions may indicate that you are a good candidate for liposuction surgery:
- Areas of fat deposits that are out of proportion with the rest of your body and do not go away with diet and exercise – so called "diet resistant fat"
- Areas with minimal amounts of excess skin (Liposuction removes fat not skin) and good skin elasticity
Liposuction surgery usually improves contours. In some instances it may be used in a circumferential fashion, thinning an area. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait at least several months to get an accurate picture of the results of your surgery. The small incisions used for access of the instrument known as a cannula, will fade over a number of months usually becoming barely visible.
Your Personal Consultation-- How will my plastic surgeon evaluate me for liposuction surgery?
During the initial consultation, you may be asked to look in a mirror and point out exactly what you would like to see improved. Pictures may be taken of you especially if the areas that will be treated are on your posterior aspect (back, buttock, etc.). This will help your plastic surgeon to understand your expectations and determine whether they can realistically be achieved. A determination of the elasticity of the skin will also occur.
A discussion concerning your ideal weight and realistic weight will most likely occur. Plans such as future pregnancies, etc. may be discussed. You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your medical history including previous surgeries, past and present medical conditions, allergies and current medications. It is important for you to provide complete information. High blood pressure, thyroid problems, diabetes, etc. should be reviewed as these medical conditions may increase some risks associated with surgery.
Your Liposuction Surgical Experience (Preoperative Preparation and Recovery)
The goal of your plastic surgeon and the entire staff is to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible. If you are a smoker, it is recommended to stop smoking well in advance of surgery since smoking can impair the healing process. Certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding such as Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and some vitamins/homeopathic regimens should be discontinued before undergoing liposuction surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions.
Liposuction surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. If this is the case, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after surgery and to stay with you for the next 24 hours. If you are undergoing large volume of liposuction, it may be suggested that you be hospitalized even for one night.
The Day of Liposuction Surgery
Your liposuction surgery may be performed in an accredited hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. Frequently, local anesthesia and intravenous sedation are used for patients undergoing liposuction surgery, although general anesthesia may be desirable in some instances. For your safety during the operation, various monitors are used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood.
When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. You will most likely be wearing a compression garment, usually used to help "shrink" the skin. Concerning postoperative pain, many patients state that the area feels sore, as if they underwent a vigorous work out.
You probably will be permitted to go home after a short period of observation, although some patients may stay overnight in the hospital or surgical facility.
How Liposuction Surgery is Performed?
The basic technique of liposuction involves the removal of fat via a hollow metal tube (cannula) that is passed through the fatty tissue. One of the most common types of liposuction involves the aspiration of fat by attaching a pump that generates a vacuum. This is known as suction assisted liposuction (SAL). In addition, a motor may be used on the cannula that causes the cannula to vacillate back and forth thus performing much of the "work" of liposuction know as power assisted liposuction (PAL). An ultrasonic generator may produce sound waves above audible frequency that "breaks" the fat cells and the broken down fat is removed by SAL. A laser can also be employed to break down the fat cells. Each of the methods has advantages and disadvantages. These methods will be discussed with you at the time of the consultation. Additionally, the above techniques may be combined to yield optimal results. The decisions concerning the appropriate technique will best be accomplished by your plastic surgeon.
Understanding Risks of Liposuction
Fortunately, significant complications from liposuction surgery are infrequent. Liposuction surgery is one of the two most common procedures performed by plastic surgeons. Most often this surgery is performed without experiencing any major problem.
The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your plastic surgeon, or with a staff member in your surgeon's office. The risks in most surgeries are similar. Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include hematoma (an accumulation of blood under the skin that may require removal), infection, changes in sensation, scarring, allergic reactions, damage to underlying structures, need for revisions, unsatisfactory results possibly necessitating additional procedures and medical risks. Other risks more specific to liposuction may include indentations and irregularities.
You can help minimize certain risks by following the advice and instructions of your plastic surgeon, both before and after your liposuction surgery.
Recovery from Liposuction Surgery
It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals. The first few days after surgery, you should rest quietly. If you can elevate the body part, it is usually suggested that you do so. Remember, you must not take aspirin or certain anti-inflammatory medications. You most likely will wear a garment. If it is too tight you should promptly notify your surgeon.
During the first 48 hours following surgery, patients experience varying degrees of swelling and bruising. The swelling persists longer. Bruising typically disappears within seven to ten days. Stitches are usually removed within a week of surgery. Straining, bending over and lifting should be avoided during the early postoperative period. In many instances, you will be able to resume most of your normal activities within ten days or less.
Maintaining a Relationship with Your Plastic Surgeon after Liposuction
You will return to your plastic surgeon's office for follow-up care at prescribed intervals, at which time your progress will be evaluated as a result of your liposuction surgery. Please remember that the relationship with your plastic surgeon does not end when you leave the operating room. If you have questions or concerns during your recovery from liposuction surgery, or need additional information at a later time, you should contact your plastic surgeon.