One of the most common of all cosmetic procedures, liposuction is a technique for recontouring the body by permanently removing fat deposits. The tendency to accumulate fat may be inherited, and this fat is often especially resistant to diet and exercise.
Many patients become discouraged at having lost unwanted pounds without seeing a change in shape. The overall proportions of the body may be unbalanced, or they may simply have retained areas of fatty tissue. In these cases, liposuction can successfully trim excess fat.
What are the benefits?
A newly trim abdomen can provide a psychological lift and an extra incentive to exercise regularly and maintain fitness. Many patients even find physical activity more pleasurable after shedding extra fat, and they also find that clothes tend to fit better.
What will happen at the consultation?
During the consultation, your surgeon will talk with you about the changes you would like to make in your appearance. He will explain the different options available to you, the procedure itself, its risks and limitations, and costs. Your surgeon will begin with a physical examination to evaluate your overall weight, your skin and muscle tone, and the pattern of distribution of fat deposits.
He will also record a complete medical history. You will need to let him or her know about any medications that you are currently taking. Be sure to ask all the questions you have about the procedure, and ask to see photos of the doctor’s recent patients, before and after treatment.
How is the procedure performed?
Before surgery, the surgeon will mark the precise areas of the body where the fat is to be removed. During the procedure, the surgeon makes a tiny incision in the skin, and inserts a thin tube called a cannula into the fatty area. The cannula is used to break up the fat deposits and sculpt the area to the desired proportions. The unwanted fat is removed with a powerful vacuum, leaving the skin, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels intact.
In the super-wet technique, a saline solution containing a local anaesthetic and adrenaline is injected into the area to be treated, which makes the fat deposits easier to break up and extract. This extra fluid also minimizes trauma to the surrounding tissue, reducing swelling and post-operative pain. The administration of adrenaline also decreases bleeding during surgery, further reducing risks.
How long does the operation take?
On average, the procedure takes 1-2 hours per area treated.
How long do I have to stay in the hospital for?
If the amount of fat to be removed is fairly small, your surgery can usually be performed as a day case.
If you are having large amounts of fat removed, or are undergoing several procedures at once, you may need to spend the night in the hospital so that medical staff can monitor your initial recovery.
The procedure is usually performed under general anaesthesia.
What can I expect afterwards?
Most of the bruising and swelling should subside within three weeks. To speed the healing process your surgeon will probably tell you to begin light activity as soon as possible.
You should be able to return to work within a few days if your work is fairly sedentary. You should avoid strenuous activities for several weeks as your body heals, but within 4 to 6 weeks you should be able to resume all normal activities. It’s important to continue wearing the compression garment, which should be easily hidden under your clothing, until your doctor tells you that it is no longer necessary.
You should see visible results of your surgery within two or three weeks, but the full effects may not be evident for six months to a year. The more fat that you had removed, the longer it will take to achieve optimal results, because the skin has to adapt to a more radical change in shape. Most people are pleased with the new contour often feel a boost in energy and self-confidence.
What are the long-term results?
Because a portion of the fat cells are permanently removed by liposuction, you will not tend to regain weight in that area. It is important to note, however, that liposuction does not guarantee that you won’t gain weight or fat deposits in other areas of your body. Moreover, since fat cells have been removed from the treatment site but not from surround areas, this weight gain can appear uneven. It is important to maintain your weight and contour with exercise and proper diet.
Since the normal aging process affects the firmness and elasticity of the skin, older patients may not achieve quite the same results as younger patients.
What are the risks?
After surgery, some patients experience dimpling, lumpiness, numbness, scarring, discoloration, or sagging skin in the treated area. Follow-up surgery may be needed to correct these problems.
More serious complications include blood clots, infection, excessive fluid loss leading to shock, pulmonary embolism due to dislodged fat or blood clot, fluid build-up in the lungs. A combination of the following factors is associated with an increased risk of serious complications:
- The removal of large amounts of fat
- More than one procedure being performed at the same time
In order to minimise these risks, it is important that you follow all of your surgeon’s instructions, both before and after surgery.
The secretary of Mr Alan Park can be contacted at the offices listed on the appointments page or by calling 07984 614603. Please write or telephone to arrange a consultation.