When liposuction first entered the market as a viable option for fat reduction, it was hailed as the answer to everyone dreams – a magic bullet to weight loss. The popular perception was that liposuction offered a quick and easy solution to remove unwanted fat without the inconvenience and discomfort of dieting or exercise.
In retrospect, this may have been a somewhat optimistic view of the advantages of liposuction. It has since been realised that liposuction has both its benefits and its limitations. If you are considering liposuction, then it is worth taking the time to discover if it suits your situation, and if you live in Victoria, how to ensure you get the safest plastic surgery in Melbourne with the most predictable outcome.
Liposuction is ideally suited to people within 30% of their ideal body weight, with fat deposits which are out of proportion to the rest of their body and which don’t respond to diet or exercise.
For women, areas of concern which commonly fit into this category may be:
- Lower abdomen
On the other hand, men often experience stubborn fat in other areas including:
- Under the chin
Liposuction is very versatile and can treat a wide range of fat deposits, even around the face. In younger people, liposuction using a fine cannula can be applied to treat mild jowling or a double chin. The reason this is rarely used on older patients is the skin often loses its ability to retract as we get older. Liposuction of these areas may result in unwanted loose skin and is best combined with another surgical procedure such as a face or neck lift.
Liposuction is not suited to obese people seeking all over fat loss. Surgeons are limited in the amount of fat they can safely extract.
The recovery period for liposuction will vary depending on the area treated. If a fine cannula is used for example on the face, then healing is likely to be fast and uneventful. When performed on large areas of the body, liposuction can cause an extensive amount of trauma to tissue and therefore requires time to heal. Plan to be off work for at least three to four weeks.
Your plastic surgeon will be the best judge of the type of liposuction to suit your individual needs. All liposuction will involve a thin tube (cannula) being introduced to the fatty area and through the use of a vacuum, the fat is sucked out of your body.
Some surgeons prefer Tumescent liposuction which involves injecting a sterile saline solution into the treatment area. This solution contains epinephrine and lidocaine which assist in reducing pain and blood loss.
Other techniques may involve the use of ultrasound or lasers to break down the fat into a liquid which can then be suctioned out.
What does it feel like?
Whatever area of the body is being treated, liposuction can be quite an aggressive treatment to undergo. Although the patient may feel no pain, they should be prepared for some rather strange and possibly alarming sensations as the surgeon thrusts the cannula through the tissue and fat to break it down.
Risks and complications
Major liposuction is not a procedure to be undertaken lightly. The list of possible complications is considerable. To minimise these risks it is imperative that liposuction is only performed by a qualified, experienced plastic surgeon. Whilst many of the following are unlikely, you must be aware that the procedure presents the risk of:
- Significant bruising
- Persistent skin sensation changes
- Damage to deep structures such as blood vessels, nerves or muscles
- Heart and lung complications or deep vein thrombosis
- Pigmentation irregularities
- Skin rippling, asymmetry or irregular contours
- Poor wound healing
- Loose skin
- Burns resulting from techniques involving ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty
- Prolonged or excessive pain
Your surgeon will discuss the risk of complications and it is important that he is committed to providing extensive follow-up support along with an assurance of revision work if needed. He will also explain the importance of not smoking in the weeks leading up to liposuction. Smoking heightens the risks of complications and can even be life-threatening. If you currently smoke, it is strongly recommended that you have an honest conversation with your surgeon prior to the procedure. Also be aware that smoking substitutes which contain nicotine, still present substantial risks.
In the hands of a skilled plastic surgeon, liposuction can make dramatic and long-lasting improvements to our body shape. It can flatten the tummy, whittle the waist or minimise the appearance of cellulite. If you are considering liposuction and understand both it’s benefits and limitations, then a chiselled, more sculpted physique could be soon be yours.