Let’s face it, for many men and women, regardless of exercise, eating right, and watching their weight, there can still be stubborn areas of fat accumulation which simply do not go away. Such people may be good candidates for suction assisted lipectomy, commonly called liposuction.
Since first being introduced 30 years ago, suction lipectomy has become the number one most popular cosmetic procedures. Also, during that time, great improvements in technology and techniques have evolved making the results better and the recovery easier. Improvements have come in the form of smaller cannulae and anesthesia, but the greatest advancement in recent years has been Liposelection® by Vaser®
Vaser® involves the use of high energy ultrasound to help loosen and disrupt the fat. During the procedure, the Vaser® probe is passed through the fat layer. The ultrasound energy makes the fat easier to remove resulting in better results, less bruising, and shorter recovery time.
Vaser® can be used with either general or local anesthesia and has been proven safe and effective. It is the ultimate refinement of our most popular cosmetic surgical procedures.
The areas of the body which can be treated are many. In women, these can include the abdomen, hips, thighs, knees, arms, ankles, back and neck. For men, the areas most commonly treated are the abdomen, chest and waist.
Liposculpture can be performed under either general or local anesthesia. This depends on patient or doctor preference. Local anesthesia works well when treating 2-4 areas. When many areas are being treated and large volumes of fat are to be removed, general anesthesia may be preferred.
The areas of fat to be removed are marked on the skin prior to surgery. At the beginning of the procedure large amounts of special fluid are injected into the fat layer. This is known as the “tumescent” technique and is used to numb the area, loosen fat, and minimize bleeding.
Next the Vaser probe is passed through the fat layer. This helps disrupt and loosen the fat while sparing other structures such as nerves and blood vessels.
A hollow metal cannula is then inserted through well hidden tiny incisions 1/4 inch or less in size. By connecting the cannula to a suction apparatus, the unwanted fat is gently removed.
Following completion of the fat removal, the incisions are sutured closed and a special compression garment or girdle is placed over the treated area to reduce swelling and bruising and also aide in skin shrinkage and contraction.
Patients can expect mild to moderate pain and bruising depending on how many areas are treated and how much fat is removed. However, with modern advances in liposuction, most patients can expect to resume normal activity after a few days. The compression garment will need to be used for a period of 4-6 weeks post operatively to obtain the optimum result.
Injection of fat removed from liposuction is useful as a filler, particularly in the face. Often it is used to fill hollows in the cheeks, improve deep lines such as naso-labial folds, or for lip enhancement. Because the face has a rich blood supply fat will survive at least partially when injected using proper technique. It has been much less successful when used to enlarge the breasts or the buttocks (the Brazilian butt lift)
Injecting a chemical into the fat to try to get rid of “melt” away has been tried by many methods over the years. The technique has been called “mesotherapy”. Unfortunately the amount of fat reduction has been minimal and results have been disappointing over all. It is best to stick with methods that have a proven record of success such as Vaser®
Laser liposuction is similar to Vaser® liposuction in that it loosens the fat making it easier to suction out. There is not evidence that one is superior to the other, and the most important factor determining the outcome is the skill of the surgeon.
Because some patients seeking liposuction are actually better off with a tummy tuck, it is important to go to a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon who can offer you either option.
If a patient has very loose skin or extensive stretch marks as a result of pregnancy, the tummy tuck will procedure will give a flatter abdomen then liposuction.
If performed by an experienced and well trained surgeon, liposuction is extremely safe as long as 5000 cc volume limit is adhered to. The biggest risk of liposuction is contour irregularities, especially if they are present pre-operatively. These can be minimized at the time of surgery by evenly removing the fat from the areas of treated.
By adulthood, new fat cells can no longer by produced by the body. When the fat cells are removed by liposuction, the cells will not form again. However, if the patient gains weight more fat can accumulate in the remaining cells. For this reason, maintenance of weight after liposuction through continued diet and exercise are essential.
Stretch marks are basically scars that have formed in the deep layers of the skin by being stretched and tearing elastic fibers in the dermis. Liposculpture will not improve them, the only way to get rid of them is to cut out the involved skin as it is done in a tummy tuck.
There have been many studies to try to come up with maximum amount that can safely and reasonably be removed at one time. The amount generally acknowledged is that a maximum of 5000 grams or about 5 quarts, should be removed at one time. It is the rare case that more than this amount will need to be removed, but if it does, it is the safest to do at a second procedure a few months later.
In many cases, liposuction can improve the appearance of cellulite to some degree. It can not get rid of it. If a patient has contour irregularities before surgery, they will likely also be present afterward.
Cellulite is normal fat which creates irregular contours of the skin or a “cottage cheese” appearance. The reason it forms is due to thin attachments from the deep layer of the skin to the underlying muscles. The fat caught in between
then assumes and irregular contour, commonly referred to as cellulite.