It’s a common misconception that liposuction is meant to help people lose weight. Actually, as a weight loss method, lipo is relatively ineffectual. What liposuction is for, and what it excels at, is not weight loss, but body contouring. After all, another word for this procedure is lipoplasty; ‘lipo’, from the Greek for fat, and ‘plasty’ meaning ‘to shape or mold’.
There are a number of different methods that can be used to effect the body contouring you desire. The currently standard method, which has been used for decades, is the tumescent method. Newer additions include laser assisted and ultrasound-based liposuction.
With the tumescent procedure, a local anesthetic is applied to the area to be sculpted, and then a sterile solution containing epinephrine and lidocaine is injected under the skin to both numb and help dissolve the fatty tissue to be removed. The resultant mixture of anesthetic solution and fat tissue is then removed via suction through a hollow tube called a cannula.
The ultrasound technique shares many similarities with the tumescent method, but instead of injecting liquid to help break up fat cells, the surgeon uses ultrasound waves to perform the same function. This can be particularly useful when dealing with traditionally difficult areas such as the back or upper abdomen.
Regardless of the method used, recovery times are approximately the same — you should be able to move around carefully very shortly after the procedures finished, and return to a fairly sedentary office job within a few days. Your ability to resume your regular activities depends almost entirely on your level of comfort or discomfort, and can take anywhere up to a few weeks.
One thing to keep in mind is quite often, the incisions are left open to allow any remaining liquid to drain out freely. This is more inconvenient than anything, in particular with regards to your ability to go out and resume your normal activities, but isn’t particularly painful, or even uncomfortable.
An interesting variation on traditional liposuction, and one that Dr. Liu rather unusual in being offer, is something called fat transfer which can be used to fill out aging facial skin, and to naturally enhance the size and shape of your breasts. Rather than suctioning out fat cells en masse, as with traditional techniques, the fatty tissue is carefully harvested from a problem area, and then introduced somewhere else in the body through a series of micro injections — usually the face and neck, or the breasts.
If you’ve got some areas of your body that stubbornly refuse to respond to a healthy diet and exercise regimen, book a consultation with Dr. Liu to discuss with him what options are best for you.
Dr. Perry Liu is a Beverly Hills board certified plastic surgeon. His skills embody the convergence of art and medicine that is the essence of aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. Dr. Liu is graduate of Duke University, and continued on to medical school at Emory University in Atlanta You can find Dr. Perry Liu on Google+.