A flat and well-proportioned body is often considered a symbol of health and vitality. But despite good health and a reasonable level of fitness, some individuals may still have a body with disproportionate contours due to localized fat deposits. These areas may be due to heredity or family traits rather than a lack of weight control or fitness.
If you are bothered by excess fat deposits, located anywhere on your face or body, that do not respond to diet or exercise, liposuction may be right for you. In general, liposuction slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing localized or regional excess fat deposits, improving your body contours and proportion, and ultimately, enhancing your self-image.
What is liposuction?
Liposuction, also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, is the surgical removal of localized or regional excess fatty tissue. There are three common variations to the procedure:
- Traditional liposuction, simply defined as surgical suctioning of excess fat deposits
- The tumescent or super-wet technique that requires an infusion of saline solution, with added adrenaline and possibly anesthetic prior to removal of excess fat
- Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty or UAL, where ultrasonic energy is used to liquefy excess fat prior to surgical suctioning
These techniques may be used to reduce localized fat deposits of the:
- Cheeks, chin and neck
- Upper arms
- Breast or chest area
- Abdomen and waist
- Hips and buttocks
- Inner knee
- Calves and ankles
In some cases, liposuction is performed alone, in other cases it is used with plastic surgery procedures such as a face lift, male or female breast reduction, or a tummy tuck. 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.
Liposuction can, however, permanently reshape body contours where excess fat deposits create areas that are disproportionately large in an otherwise balanced figure. Ideal candidates for liposuction are adults of any age within 30% of their ideal weight and with firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone. Good candidates are defined as:
- 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
Special considerations may be necessary for individuals with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease or previous surgery to the treatment area.
Liposuction is a highly individualized procedure that requires careful consideration of your specific concerns and the areas in which you desire improvement. An evaluation of skin tone and elasticity, as well as fat density and distribution will determine appropriate techniques for your specific case.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure. All liposuction techniques require incisions in or near the area to be suctioned for insertion of an appropriately sized cannula. In some cases, incisions may be so small that no stitches are required for closure. Once the cannula tip has loosened excess fat, the fat is removed using a surgical vacuum or powered suction device. An alternative method uses a syringe attached to the cannula to manually suction away fat.
Manual suctioning with a syringe is more commonly used when areas of fat removal are small and very isolated, or when it is planned that fat will be processed and reinjected in other areas of the body. This procedure is called fat grafting and may be used to fill-in wrinkles or hollow areas of the face or depressions appearing anywhere on the face or body.
Where large amounts are suctioned from one area, compression garments may assist during the healing process to help skin confirm to the reduced body contours. Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts, usually more than 5 liters, or 5000 ccs, of fat are suctioned.