Liposuction or suction assisted lipectomy is meant to help those who despite diet and exercise you may find areas of their body that are resistant to weight loss efforts. These pockets of fat are ideal for treatment with liposuction. Patients with isolated pockets of fat with good skin elasticity are good candidates for the procedure. Liposuction is not a weight loss technique. It is ideal for treating those stubborn spots once you have achieved your weight loss goal.
What is liposuction?
Also known as lipoplasty, Dr Hess and Dr Sandeen perform liposuction to slim and reshape specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits, improving your body contour and proportion, and ultimately, enhancing your self-image.
Despite good health and a reasonable level of fitness, some people may still have a body with disproportionate contours due to localized fat deposits. These areas may be due to family traits rather than a lack of weight control or fitness.
Liposuction surgery can be used to treat stubborn fat pockets in many parts of the body including the thighs, arms, neck, hips, waist, back, inner knee, chest, cheeks, chin, calves, and ankles. In some cases, liposuction is performed alone, in other cases it is used with plastic surgery procedures such as a facelift, breast reduction, or a tummy tuck.
What liposuction won’t do:
Liposuction surgery is not a treatment for obesity and is not a replacement for regular exercise and good eating habits. People with stubborn areas of fat and who exercise regularly are the best candidates for this procedure.
What to expect during your liposuction consultation
The success and safety of your procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation before liposuction surgery. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.
Be prepared to discuss:
- Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Previous surgeries
We will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Take photographs for your medical record
- Discuss your options and recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of liposuction and any risks or potential complications
Important facts about liposuction safety and risks
The decision to have liposuction is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.
Our surgeon’s and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Is it right for me?
If you are bothered by excess fat deposits – located anywhere on your body – that don’t respond to diet or exercise, liposuction may be right for you.
Ideal candidates for liposuction are:
- Adults within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for body contouring
Following your surgeon’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery and minimizing liposuction complications. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing in order to minimize the side effects of liposuction surgery. Dr Hess or Dr Sandeen will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Possible liposuction risks include:
- Uneven contours
- Rippling or loose skin
- Skin or nerve damage
- Irregular pigmentation
- Fat clots
- Blood clots
- Excessive fluid loss or fluid accumulation
- Unfavorable scarring
- Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound with the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty technique
- Anesthesia risks
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Change in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration or swelling
- Pain, which may persist
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs, and abdominal organs
- Poor wound healing
- Persistent swelling in the legs
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Possibility of revisional surgery
Preparing for liposuction surgery
Before liposuction surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Special instructions you receive will cover:
- What to do on the day of surgery
- The use of anesthesia during your liposuction
- Post-operative care and follow-up
You’ll need help
If your liposuction is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
What happens during liposuction surgery?
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia administered by board certified anesthesiologists for your safety.
Step 2 – The incision
Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions.
First, sterile liquid solution is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. Then a thin hollow tube, or cannula, is inserted through these incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion.
The dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.
Problem areas that can be addressed with liposuction:
Step 3 – See the results
Your improved body contour will be apparent when the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside.
With continued practices of healthy diet and fitness, the loss of excess fatty tissue should be permanently maintained. However, substantial weight gain can alter an otherwise permanent result.
Once your procedure is completed, a compression garment or elastic bandages may cover treatment areas. These help to control swelling after liposuction and compress the skin to your new body contours.
In addition, small temporary drains may be placed in existing incisions beneath the skin to remove any excess blood or fluid.
You will be given specific instructions that may include: How to care for the surgical site(s), medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
A special note: Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts – usually more than 5 liters of fat – are suctioned.
When you go home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Liposuction results will be long-lasting
It may take several months for the swelling to fully dissipate after liposuction surgery. As it does, your new contours and enhanced self-image should continue to develop.
The fulfillment you feel from the initial results of liposuction should continue as long as you control your weight and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
A significant weight gain can reverse your results. Following liposuction, your slimmer and better-proportioned body should more accurately reflect the healthy and active life you lead.
How much does liposuction cost?
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. The amount of surgical time required for this procedure vairies depending on the amount of work to be done. The time usually will be anywhere from one to four hours.
The price of liposuction surgery may include:
- Surgeon’s fee
- Hospital or surgical facility costs
- Anesthesia fees
- Post-surgery garments
Liposuction is usually performed by Dr Richard Hess or Dr Sven Sandeen on an outpatient basis at Northwest Medical Center, Northwest Tucson Surgery Center or Oro Valley Hospital. General anesthesia is the choice of most patients, administered for your safety, by a board certified anesthesiologist. This procedure is frequently combined with tummy tuck procedures.
Liposuction words to know
- Breast reduction: Also known as reduction mammaplasty, reduction of breast size by surgery.
- Cannula: A thin, hollow tube used during liposuction to loosen excess fat.
- Facelift: A surgical procedure, also known as rhytidectomy, to reduce sagging of the mid-face, jowls and neck.
- General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
- Lipoplasty: Another term for liposuction.
- Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
- Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
- Suction lipectomy: Another term for liposuction.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
- Tumescent liposuction: Also known as super-wet liposuction, involves an infusion of saline solution with adrenaline and possibly anesthetic prior to removal of excess fat.
- Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
- Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty: Also known as ultrasonic liposuction, uses ultrasonic energy to liquefy excess fat prior to surgical suctioning.
American Society of Plastic Surgeons Liposuction Information