Liposuction can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently.
Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your plastic surgeon.
The best candidates for liposuction are of relatively normal weight but have pockets of excess fat in particular areas. You should be physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations. Most important, having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final contour. (Hanging skin won’t reshape to your body’s new contours, and may require an additional procedure to surgically remove the excess skin. This procedure will leave visible scars.)
Suction lipectomy is not recommended if you’ve had recent surgery in the area to be treated, if you have poor blood circulation in that area, or if you have heart or lung disease. You should also understand that liposuction by itself will not improve the dimpled skin known as cellulite.
Suction assisted lipectomy is normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped, and the plastic surgeon is well trained in body contouring.
Nevertheless, in rare instances, the procedure may cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or very extensive areas are suctioned at one time. Other infrequent, but possible, complications include fluid accumulation (which must be drained) and injury to the skin. Although serious complications are infrequent, infection or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness. You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon such as Dr McGovern or Dr Ives, who have been granted privileges to perform liposuction at an accredited hospital, and by closely following their advice.
The scars from liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view, even in a bikini. However, other cosmetic problems may occur, even if your surgeon is very skilled. They may include rippling or bagginess of the skin over the treated area, and pigmentation changes (such as brown spots) that may become permanent if exposed to the sun. Asymmetry (uneven contour or shape) sometimes requires a second procedure.
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie, and carefully assess your skin tone. He will explain any alternative body contouring methods that may be appropriate such as abdominoplasty or tummy tuck, and discuss the options or the combination of procedures that would be best for you.
Be frank in discussing your expectations with your surgeon. He will be equally frank with you, describing the procedure in detail and explaining its risks and limitations. Your surgeon will also explain the anaesthesia he will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.
During this consultation, be sure to tell him about any large weight losses or gains you’ve had at any time. You should also inform him if you smoke, and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
If you’re having extensive liposuction, your surgeon may advise that you donate some of your own blood before the operation, to be given back to you at the time of your operation, to replace fluids you may lose during surgery. You will be given specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets, and certain medications.
While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and, if needed, to help you out for a day or two.
Suction assisted lipectomy will be performed at the Sunshine Coast Private Hospital or Noosa Private Hospital. It’s usually done as a day case, for cost containment and convenience. Extensive procedures may require a hospital stay of one night or more.
Liposuction can be performed under local anaesthesia, which numbs the area, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed. Often considerable discomfort occurs with this type of anaesthesia, especially if several areas are being treated. Much more commonly general anaesthesia is preferred. In that case, you’ll sleep through the operation.
Suction assisted lipectomy usually takes an hour or two, but the time required may vary considerably- from thirty minutes to several hours, depending on the area and amount being suctioned.
To begin the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision, just large enough to allow the insertion of a hollow tube called a cannula. The opposite end of the cannula is attached to a machine that creates a strong vacuum. The surgeon manipulates the cannula deep within the fat layers under the skin, breaking up the fat and suctioning it out. Sometimes additional incisions are needed to remove all areas of fat. Prior to any fat removal, your surgeon will have infiltrated a large volume of fluid containing local anaesthetic and adrenaline into the areas. This “tumescent” or “wet technique” liposuction minimizes pain and blood loss.
If you’ve had local anaesthesia, you’ll feel vibration and friction during the procedure. You will also feel a stinging sensation as the cannula moves closer to the muscle, this can be quite uncomfortable. If you’ve had general anaesthesia, you’ll be sound asleep.
You’ll lose fluid along with the fat during liposuction, and it’s crucial that this fluid be replaced to keep your body from going into shock. You’ll be given fluids intravenously, and if needed you may also receive a blood transfusion (usually the blood you’ve donated in advance).
A snug elastic dressing, girdle, or body stocking must be worn over the treated area to control swelling and bleeding, and to help your skin shrink to fit your new contour. You will need to wear this garment continuously for two to three weeks, then as much as possible for a few weeks more. Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery.
You’ll even be heavier for a while, because of the extra fluids you’ve been given. The suctioned areas will be swollen and bruised, and you may feel a burning sensation. The pain can be controlled with medications, though you may still feel stiff and sore for a few days. You may temporarily lose all feeling in the suctioned area, don’t worry, it will return.
It’s not unusual to feel depressed in the days or weeks following surgery. Try to keep in mind that this is normal and will subside as you begin to look and feel better.
Healing is a gradual process. Your surgeon will tell you to start walking around as soon as possible (to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs), but to avoid more strenuous activity for two to four weeks. Any stitches will be removed in five to ten days. You may be back at work in as little as 2 – 3 days, or as much as two weeks after your surgery. When you resume activity depends on the extent of your procedure and how you feel.
While most of the swelling and discoloration will be gone a month after surgery, some swelling can remain for six months or more. You will be given the homoeopathic remedy Arnica to assist in the cessation of bruising and swelling and your surgeon will schedule follow up visits to monitor your progress and to see if any additional procedures are needed.
If you have any unusual symptoms between visits for example, heavy bleeding or a sudden increase in pain or any questions about what you can and can’t do, don’t hesitate to call .
Suction assisted lipectomy is a highly effective technique for giving you a new body contour with very little scarring. The results are permanent, providing you eat sensibly and exercise regularly. If you do gain weight, you’ll probably gain it more uniformly throughout your body, not just in the former “bulges.” Your body is not capable of making new fat cells after the age of 12, so the removal of fat cells through liposuction will permanently reduce the number of fat cells in the areas treated.
Most patients are very satisfied with the results of their liposuction, they feel more comfortable in a wide variety of clothes, and more at ease with their bodies. As long as your expectations are realistic, you should be happy with your new shape.
If you have further questions, write them down and ask your surgeon and his helpful staff at your consultation.
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