If you are bothered by excess fat deposits - located anywhere on your body - that don’t respond to diet or exercise, liposuction may be right for you.
Despite good health and a reasonable level of fitness, some people may still have a body with disproportionate contours due to localized fat deposits. These areas may be due to family traits rather than a lack of weight control or fitness. Liposuction slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits, improving your body contours and proportion, and ultimately, enhancing your self-image.
Ideal candidates for liposuction are:
- Adults within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for body contouring
Liposuction techniques may be used to reduce localised fat deposits of the:
- Hips and buttocks
- Abdomen and waist
- Upper arms
- Inner knee
- Chest area
- Calves and ankles
In some cases, liposuction is performed alone, in other cases it is used with plastic surgery procedures such as a breast reduction, arm lift thigh lift or a tummy tuck.
What it won’t do: Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise. It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite, the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips and buttocks. It does not correct stretch marks nor address loose saggy skin.
Procedural Steps - What happens during liposuction?
Dr Vrtik only performs liposuction under full general anaesthesia. This is to ensure your comfort and safety during the procedure.
The incision & liposuction
Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions. First, sterile local anaesthetic solution is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma (also known as the tumescent technique). Then a thin hollow tube, or cannula, is inserted through these incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. Sometimes, ultrasonic waves are used to liquefy the fat during this process. The dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.
Closure of Incisions
Often these incisions are closed with adhesive tapes. Larger incisions are closed with buried sutures.
To watch an animated demonstration of liposuction, please click here
Problem areas that can be address with liposuction are:
Specific Risks of liposuction
The decision to have liposuction is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. Dr Vrtik & our staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Possible risks of liposuction include:
- Uneven contours
- Rippling or loose skin
- Skin or nerve damage
- Irregular pigmentation
- Fat clots
- Blood clots
- Excessive fluid loss or fluid accumulation
- Unfavourable scarring
- Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound with the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty technique
- Anaesthesia risks
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Change in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration or swelling
- Pain, which may persist
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs, and abdominal organs
- Poor wound healing
- Persistent swelling in the legs
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Possibility of revision surgery
Most of the risks are very uncommon, and some people (with particular health problems or specific body shapes), may be at higher risk for specific complications. Dr Vrtik will discuss this with you during your consultation if any of these risks are specifically pertinent to you.
Although body contouring surgery can be effective procedures where the benefits significantly outweigh the risks, like everything in the practice of medicine and surgery, it is not an exact science. The degree of surgical success can be altered by how each individual’s body responds to surgery and healing. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure; revision surgery may be necessary.
Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to ask questions about your procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings and any specific concerns with Dr Vrtik or any of our staff members.
Once your procedure is completed, your garment or foamy tapes will cover treatment areas. These help to control swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours. Mobilisation is encouraged as soon as you have recovered from your general anaesthetic.
You may be discharged on the same day or next day, depending on the number and extensiveness of treatment areas. . If your procedure is Day-Surgery, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery; it is also essential that you arrange for someone to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
Adequate postoperative rest to allow healing and minimise complications is essential for the first 5-7 days. It is recommended that you exercise caution with lifting and heavy activities for the first 4 weeks.
To find out more about postoperative care, please click here.
Results and Expectations
It may take several months for the swelling to fully dissipate. As it does, your new contours and enhanced self-image should continue to develop. With continued practices of healthy diet and fitness, the loss of excess fatty tissue should be permanently maintained. The fulfilment you feel from the initial results of liposuction should continue as long as you control your weight. A significant weight gain can reverse your results.
A special note: In some people, the skin does not retract (or ‘bounce-back’) after the fat has been removed, leaving loose, saggy skin. This is often only noticeable 3-6 months after the procedure when swelling has subsided and adequate time has been allowed to let the skin readjust. This is usually due to poor elasticity of the skin, and is more likely in people who have extensive stretch marks. Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts - usually more than 5 litres of fat - are suctioned. Please do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you may have in regards to the above with Dr Vrtik at your follow-up appointment.
Vocabulary to know
- Cannula: A thin, hollow tube used during liposuction to loosen excess fat.
- General anaesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Haematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Lipoplasty: Another term for liposuction. Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
- Local anaesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
- Suction lipectomy: Another term for liposuction.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
- Tumescent or super-wet liposuction: Involves an infusion of saline solution with adrenaline and possibly anaesthetic prior to removal of excess fat.
- Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
- Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty: Uses ultrasonic energy to liquefy excess fat prior to surgical suctioning.
(Some Information & Illustrations are courtesy of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons)