What is Liposuction?

Updated on February 16, 2021

Liposuction is a body contouring procedure generally carried out for cosmetic purposes. It involves sucking fat out of specific, targeted areas of the body. Popular areas are the tummy, buttocks and thighs. It is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for a healthy, balanced diet and exercise routine, however. Liposuction is recommended for those already within a healthy weight range who are dissatisfied with the aesthetic appearance of their body. It is probably best suited to those who feel they carry excess weight in one or two particular regions and want to change their proportions and body shape.  (Source: The Lipo Group)

How Long Has It Been Around For?

Liposuction was invented in as early as the 1920s by French surgeon, Charles Dujarier. However, he did not develop a reliably safe process and the procedure remained unexplored until the 1970s, when Arpad and Giorgio Fischer developed the ‘blunt tunneling technique’. This involved the fat being broken down into smaller pieces before being sucked out through a tube. This technique is considered to be the foundation for modern liposuction procedures. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, liposuction techniques became increasingly sophisticated as demand grew and technology flourished. The safety, comfort of patients and quality of results all improved.

What Is the Process? 

Liposuction is a minimally invasive procedure that is often able to remove larger volumes of fat than non-surgical procedures. It should always be carried out by a qualified medical professional that a patient has discussed their individual desired outcomes and medical history with. A potential patient should make sure that they feel they are having the procedure for the right reasons, and understand the preparation as well as the procedure steps themselves, and the recovery process. 

The doctor will discuss which method of anesthetic would be the most suitable for the patient and mark the target areas of excess fat. It is not always necessary to go under general anesthesia. Local anesthesia or intravenous sedation, where a sedative is put into a vein, are safe and popular alternatives to general anesthetic. Once the patient is suitably sedated, the area will be treated with a solution containing anesthetic that will reduce the recovery time and risks of bruising or blood loss. A small incision will be made, and one of the benefits of liposuction is that scarring is minimal. Generally, a thin hollow tube will be inserted which will be used to dislodge the targeted fat. The fat will then be loosened and sucked out of the body through the tube using either a syringe or a surgical vacuum. 

What Can I Expect Afterwards, and from the Results? 

Very common, non-permanent side effects are swelling and fluid retention. The swelling will completely dissipate after the surgery, but recovery times vary; depending on the individual, it can take several months. The patient should discuss future follow-up appointments and understand what activities or exercise to avoid during their recovery period. There may be particular compression garments or elastic bandages that will be recommended in order to aid recovery and help the patient see their desired results faster. It is important that the patient understands these measures and any ways they will need to care for the surgical site. Generally, liposuction is a procedure that yields very successful and long-lasting results. In some cases, another surgery may be necessary, though on the whole, liposuction provides a safe and permanent way to change the body’s shape. 

Would I Be a Suitable Candidate?

While for many people the main areas of dissatisfaction with their body are the lower stomach area, buttocks and thighs, liposuction can be used effectively on the hips, waist and abdomen, upper arms, back, chest area, calves, inner knees and ankles. It can also be used on the cheeks, chin and neck to remove unwanted fat, and in turn take years off of someone’s appearance. 

If five litters of fat or more are removed, the procedure is considered to be ‘large volume’. Extra consideration and further secondary procedures to remove excess skin may be discussed. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) says an ideal candidate would generally be a healthy individual without serious pre-existing medical conditions, who are already “within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone”.

It is important to feel comfortable and safe with your doctor. Liposuction is minimally invasive, but it is still a medical procedure requiring skill and expertise. When choosing your doctor, always check that they are a fully qualified and certified member of the ASPS. As with any surgery, liposuction comes with risks – the common ones being bleeding or a negative reaction to anesthesia. However, due to advanced technology and the minimally invasive nature of the procedure, liposuction is an increasingly popular low risk surgery which can help people achieve their desired shape.

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