The most popular cosmetic surgery procedure in the U.S. today, liposuction sculpts the body by removing undesirable fat from areas of the body such as the abdomen, waist, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, chin, cheeks, neck and upper arms that have not responded to diet and exercise. Local anesthesia or general anesthesia may be used and can last anywhere from one to five hours depending on the amount of fat being removed.
There are several different methods surgeons use when performing liposuction, including tumescent liposuction, the super-wet technique, and ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL). In all types a tiny incision is made in as inconspicuous a place as possible. A cannula (small tube) is inserted and moved back-and-forth beneath the skin, breaking up the fat layer and suctioning it out. Tumescent liposuction and super-wet liposuction use fluid injection, which facilitates fat removal, reduces blood loss, provides anesthesia during and after surgery, and helps to reduce the amount of bruising after surgery. UAL liquefies fat with ultrasonic energy and is highly precise.
Risks are uncommon when the procedure is performed by a qualified surgeon but may include infection, delays in healing, fat clots or blood clots, shock, fluid accumulation that must be drained, burns, perforation injury, lidocaine toxicity, and unfavorable drug or anesthesia reactions.
After surgery, drainage tubes, compression garments and antibiotics may be needed to facilitate the healing process. Patients are encouraged to walk as soon as they are able and many return to work within a few days, although strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month. Results are visible immediately, though improvement may continue as swelling subsides during the first three months. Scars are small and inconspicuous. Other irregularities in appearance are possible, such as asymmetric or "baggy" skin, numbness and pigmentation changes.
An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) tightens the abdominal walls and removes excess skin to create a flatter contour of the abdomen. This procedure is popular with mothers who have passed their childbearing years and is not recommended for women who may get pregnant in the future. Also, people who have undergone bariatric (weight loss) surgery are common subjects of tummy tuck surgery. Anyone who has difficulty reducing abdominal fat and increasing tone despite frequent exercise is a good candidate for this surgery.
The abdominoplasty procedure is performed under local or general anesthesia and begins with an incision along the bikini-line and the removal of the navel. Once the abdominal walls have been strengthened and repositioned, the skin flap is pulled down, stretched and cut for the new navel fixture. Supplemental liposuction can be used to smooth the transition between the new locations of the skin. The belly button is then reattached and all incisions sewn shut.
The procedure is moderately invasive and requires several weeks of recovery before returning to work and even more time before exercise can be attempted. For the first week, patients should not lift any weight heavier than ten pounds. Patients are also advised to wear the compression garment fitted at the end of surgery as much as possible to reduce the swelling.
Body Contouring After Weight Loss
Major weight loss achieved through either natural means or bariatric surgery is a great accomplishment that allows patients to significantly improve their appearance and overall quality of life, while also reducing the risk of weight-related health conditions.
After large amounts of weight loss, many patients are left with loose, hanging skin that has been stretched out by the excess weight and does not conform to the body's new contours. There may also be one or more problem areas that has not responded well to weight loss methods and still contains localized areas of stubborn fat.
Many patients seek body contouring procedures to complete the weight loss process and achieve a smooth, toned appearance that they will be proud to show off. Body contouring procedures often target problem areas such as the:
Multiple procedures may be needed in order to achieve desired results and to reduce the trauma of treating several different body areas at once. Your surgeon will develop a personalized treatment plan for you based on your individual needs and goals for surgery.
Body contouring procedures are generally considered safe, especially when performed by an experienced surgeon. It is important for patients to be in good overall health, at a stable weight and to maintain realistic expectations for surgery. These procedures cannot serve as a means for significant weight loss, but instead reduce the appearance of loose, sagging skin for a smoother body contour.