Liposuction is a procedure that can help sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific areas, including the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks, and neck. During the past decade, liposuction, which is also known as “lipoplasty” or “suction lipectomy,” has benefited from several new refinements. Although liposuction is not a substitute for dieting and exercise, the procedure can remove stubborn areas of fat that don’t respond to traditional weight-loss methods. If you are considering liposuction, the following will give you a basic understanding of the procedure. You will learn when it can help, how it is performed, and how you might look and feel after surgery. It will not answer all of your questions, since much depends on your individual circumstances. Please ask Dr. Baroody if there is anything about the procedure you do not understand.
THE BEST CANDIDATES FOR LIPOSUCTION
To be a good candidate for liposuction, you must have realistic expectations about what the procedure can do for you. It’s important to understand that liposuction can enhance your appearance and self confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Baroody. The goal of liposuction is not to lose weight. The best candidates for liposuction are average-weight people with good skin quality and well defined pockets of excess fat. You should be physically healthy, psychologically stable and realistic in your expectations. Your age is not a major consideration; however, older patients may have diminished skin elasticity and may not achieve the same results as a younger patient with tighter skin. Liposuction carries greater risk for individuals with medical problems such as diabetes, heart or lung disease, and poor blood circulation.
PLANNING YOUR SURGERY
During your initial consultation, Dr. Baroody will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie, and assess the condition of your skin. Dr. Baroody will explain the body-contouring methods that may be most appropriate for you. For example, if you believe you want liposuction in the abdominal area, you may learn that an abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” may more effectively meet your goals. Honestly discuss your expectations with Dr. Baroody.
GETTING THE ANSWERS YOU NEED
Individuals considering liposuction often feel overwhelmed by the number of options and techniques being promoted today. Dr. Baroody can help in deciding which is the right treatment approach for you. Dr. Baroody will consider effectiveness, safety, fees, and appropriateness for your needs.
PREPARING FOR YOUR SURGERY
Dr. Baroody will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating, drinking, smoking, and avoiding supplements/medications. While you are making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure.
WHERE YOUR SURGERY WILL BE PERFORMED
Liposuction may be performed in Dr. Baroody’s office-based facility, in an outpatient surgery center, or in a hospital. Smaller-volume liposuction is usually done on an outpatient basis for reasons of cost and convenience. However, if a large volume of fat will be removed, or if the liposuction is being performed in conjunction with other procedures, a stay in a hospital may be required.
ANESTHESIA FOR LIPOSUCTION
Various types of anesthesia may be used for liposuction procedures. Together, you and Dr. Baroody will select the type of anesthesia that provides the safest and most effective level of comfort for your surgery. If only a small amount of fat and a limited number of body sites are involved, liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs only the affected areas. However, if you prefer, the local is usually used along with intravenous sedation to keep you more relaxed during the procedure. Regional anesthesia can be a good choice for more extensive procedures. One type of regional anesthesia is the epidural block, the same type of anesthesia commonly used in childbirth. Some patients prefer general anesthesia, particularly if a large volume of fat is being removed. If this is the case, you are completely asleep during the procedure.
The time required to perform liposuction varies considerably, depending on the size of the area, the amount of fat being removed, and the type of anesthesia. Through a tiny incision, a narrow tube or cannula is inserted and used to vacuum the fat layer that lies deep beneath the skin. The cannula is pushed then pulled through the fat layer, breaking up and removing fat cells. The suction action is provided by a vacuum pump. Dr. Baroody uses the latest most advanced equipment namely the power assisted liposuction (PAL) machine. Fluid is lost along with the fat, and it is crucial that this fluid be replaced during the procedure. For this reason, patients need to be carefully monitored and receive intravenous fluids during and immediately after surgery. When you get home it is important that you drink fluids to stay hydrated.
The basic technique of liposuction, as described above, is used in all patients undergoing this procedure. However, as the procedure has been developed and refined, several variations have been introduced. Fluid Injection is a technique in which a medicated solution is injected into fatty areas before the fat is removed. The solution is a mixture of intravenous salt solution, lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine ( contracts blood vessels). Among other benefits, fluid injection help to reduce the amount of bruising after surgery. Dr. Baroody implements the super-wet technique which is similar to the tumescent technique, except that lesser amounts of fluid are used. Usually the amount of fluid injected is equal to the
amount of fat to be removed. This technique often requires IV sedation or general anesthesia and typically takes one to two hours of surgery time.
ALL SURGERY CARRIES SOME UNCERTAINTY AND RISK
Liposuction is normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped and the physician is a board certified plastic surgeon. However, it’s important to keep in mind that even though Dr. Baroody is an exceptionally trained surgeon which improves your chance of having a good result, there are no guarantees. Though they are rare, complications can and do occur. Risks increase if a greater number of areas are treated at the same time or if the operative sites are larger in size. The combination of these factors can create greater hazards for infection, delays in healing, the formation of fat clots or blood clots, excessive fluid loss, perforation injury to vital organs, and unfavorable drug reactions. The scars from liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view. However, imperfections in the final appearance are not uncommon after liposuction. The skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric, or even “baggy,” especially in the older patient. Numbness and pigmentation changes may occur. Sometimes, additional surgery may be recommended.
AFTER YOUR SURGERY
After surgery, expect some fluid drainage from the incisions. To control swelling and to help your skin adjust to your new shape, you will be fitted with an elastic garment to wear over the treated area for a few weeks. Dr. Baroody may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection. Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery. Even though the newer techniques are believed to reduce some post-operative discomforts, you may still experience some pain, burning, swelling, bleeding and temporary numbness. Pain can be controlled with prescribed medications, though you may still feel stiff and sore for a few days. It is normal to feel a bit anxious or depressed in the days or weeks following surgery. This feeling
will subside as you begin to look and feel better.
GETTING BACK TO NORMAL
Healing is a gradual process. Start walking around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. You should begin to feel better after a week or two and back to work within a few days following your surgery. The stitches are removed or dissolve on their own within the first week to 10 days. Activity that is more strenuous should be avoided for about a month as your body continues to heal. Although most of the bruising and swelling usually disappears within three weeks, some swelling may remain for six months or more. Dr. Baroody will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress and to see if any additional procedures are needed.
YOUR NEW LOOK
You will see a noticeable difference in the shape of your body soon after surgery. However, improvement will become even more apparent after about four to six weeks, when most of the swelling has subsided. After about six months, any persistent mild swelling usually disappears and the final contour will be visible. If your expectations are realistic, you will probably be very pleased with the results of your surgery. You may find that you are more comfortable in a wide variety of clothes and more at ease with your body. By eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, you can help to maintain your new shape.