Liposuction is one of the most used cosmetic procedures of our ages; as the quest for the perfect body becomes accessible to more and more people, this shortcut is probably the most popular for losing weight and fat during a short period of time.
As many of you already know, liposuction is basically a modern procedure which will remove fat from different body parts; it can be performed both under full and local anesthesia, but the former presents some risk of mortality. However, liposuction has a gone a long way over the years, with the help of today’s innovative medical device companies; today, probably the safest and most effective form is tumescent liposuction, done with the help of microcannulae – small tubes which are inserted into the areas where the fat is extracted from.
We’re not going to get too technical about how liposuction exactly works, but to explain the basics, weight gain and fat accumulation happen when fat cells increase both in number and in size. Fat related to the cell number is dubbed as „resistant fat”, which cannot be knocked off by exercises and diets. Liposuction aims to do exactly this: to reduce cell numbers in order to knock off resistant fat. Besides, this it will damage some of the fat cells with the cannula itself, which will be absorbed into the body in maximum 12 weeks; so the exact results of the procedure won’t be seen immediately.
Tumescent vs normal liposuction
The tumescent type of liposuction consists of introducing the cannulae into the target area and inserting a fluid named „Klein’s solution” into it; the fat is then aspirated out through the tube. One thing you should know is that tumescent liposuction by definition uses only local anesthesia – so you won’t have to worry about the dangers of general anesthesia.
There are two parts of the whole procedure: the first is the induction of anesthesia through the tubes, which lasts about one hour and a half, and the second is the aspiration process itself, which lasts another two hours. On the whole, you are looking at a duration of between three and four hours, and it doesn’t require further hospitalization. The price of safety is reflected though in the time it takes and the amount of fat sucked out. You will never get more than 5 liters of fat aspirated; and as you are about to see, this is half of what you can expect from normal liposuction procedures.
Conventional liposuction procedures are different in that they use general anesthesia, large cannulae and mostly take under two hours to execute. The amount of fat which is extracted is between 8 and 10 liters, which in itself is a big upgrade from the tumescent liposuction. However, there are still drawbacks to conventional liposuction.
Firstly, the fact that it uses general anesthesia means that you will have to be hospitalized, making it cost more. Full anesthesia, as we said, also has its risks; even though medical advances have diminished them quite significantly. But the large tubes also damage the tissue more and result in blood loss, so in many cases transfusions are required. It also leaves scars and necessitates some recovery time, as any procedure done under general anesthesia.
Alternative methods of liposuction
Of course, other liposuction methods have also been developed over time, which have their upsides and downsides. For example, power-assisted liposuction will remove more fat in areas which are usually difficult to maneuver with traditional liposuction techniques, such as the waist. It does remove the fat rapidly but it also necessitates conventional sedatives and narcotics for anesthesia, bringing some of the risks of general anesthesia procedures.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuctions don’t use tubes to aspirate, but instead just inflict damage to the fat cells. The problem with UAL is the side effects that occur: you can experience skin burn and cysts in the targeted area, and will make you generally feel uncomfortable after the operation, as the large amount of damaged fat cells result into excessive swelling. They are also very expensive due to the cost of the ultrasound machines required for the procedure.
Indications for Going through Liposuction Procedures
Now that you know the basics and risks of different types of liposuction procedures, you should also discern in what cases it is right to undertake such a procedure. You should not abuse of liposuction as a cheap way of losing weight; try diets and exercises before you even take it into considerations.
We’ve told you earlier though that some fat just can’t be lost by diets or exercise, so when you observe that you have resistant fat, you should then check with a physician to see if liposuction could be recommended for you. Another function of liposuction is also breast reduction, both in males (especially for those suffering of gynecomastia) and in females.
Keep in mind though that this is not a weight reduction procedure. Liposuction aims to improve the shape of your body by getting rid of that persistent fat. Weight loss only comes as a side effect of getting rid of fat cells and usually amounts to under 5 kilograms; if your main goal is to lose weight, you’ll be better off with doing workouts.
Also, forget about liposuction if you’ve had certain medical conditions. Any long history of diseases require you to be cleared by a physician beforehand, but if you suffer from coagulation disorders or cardiovascular diseases no one is going to perform the procedure, as it is too risky. Pregnancy is also a contraindication for any type of liposuction.
If you know that you’ve had a medical history with any kind of ailment and for some reason you aren’t redirected for a preliminary examination, then by all means ask for one. Some forms of liposuction on their own can cause adverse effects; and the consequences could become deadly if they corroborate with pre-existing conditions, hence the tight regulations.
Counseling represents one of the most important aspects of getting a liposuction, as it is the part which will determine if the liposuction procedure is necessary and what type is best. It’s not only a case of the patient choosing from a predetermined list of options, but more of a Q&A in which the surgeon needs to make a couple of points clear to him and investigate whether it really is the best procedure.
Counseling discussion should include an enquiry towards the patient’s diet and exercise regimes; as a common happening is that people require the procedure thinking that they have resistant fat they can’t get rid of, when in fact they’re not really doing effective routine.
The surgeon should also explain to you in detail about how the procedure is going to be done step by step, and inform you of any possible complications that could appear, even if the chances of them happening are slim. It is also paramount, as we already stated, for the patient to be informed about the fact that full results are going to be noticed in a period of six to twelve weeks from the date of the operation.
Another thing that should be clear is the fact that even though after removal the fat should not grow back in the area the surgery was performed, it will probably do so if at one point you gain an excessive amount of weight in a short time. There have been cases where this was misunderstood and the patients ended suing the medical centers and surgeons because the fat they had aspirated out of them reoccurred in the same areas. The weight loss issue we told you earlier about has to also be made clear for the patient to understand, so that he/she doesn’t set any unrealistic goals in this regard.
Before going into full on surgery, there is a mandatory preoperative routine that the patient must follow. It starts with blood investigations, including liver function tests; the reason is because the liposuction may result in some degree of blood loss. The patient should stop smoking the day before the procedure is done as it may increase the bleeding during the operation; they are also recommended to take tranquilizers (lorazepam, diazepam) on the eve of the surgery to do away with any fear or anxiety that might sprout.
After arriving for the surgery, the patient will be administered pre-surgery antibiotics and tranquilizers, and also Clonidine to prevent intra-operatory tachycardia. The targeted area will then be outlined directly on the skin with a marker for delimitation purposes; preoperative photography will also be performed.
Tumescent liposuction is the safest type there is, and complications appear in very few cases. However, it is good to have at least a basic degree of knowledge about them, as most of them are post-operative and might be confused with other issues.
The most common would be postoperative pain, which can be felt about three to five days after the procedure. This could result in some mild tenderness over the liposuction zone, and can be easily treated with antibiotics.
Other postoperative symptoms might be the apparition of edemas, syncopes and ecchymosis (blue areas) near the operated zone. Cystic swells called seromas are probably the worst kind of complication resulting from the tumescent liposuction operation, but they also pose no serious threat to your health if they are treated in due time.