Liposuction (lipoplasty) surgery is a cosmetic surgical procedure to reduce and reshape specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits, improving body contours and proportion. This surgical procedure is designed to eliminate bulges of fat from different regions of the body with minimal scarring and quick recovery times.

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 other plastic surgery procedures such as a facelift, breast reduction, or a tummy tuck.

Approach to liposuction surgery includes:

  • Small inconspicuous incisions made near the target areas for the introduction of a thin cannula
  • Tumescent fluid is injected through the cannula into the targeted areas
  • Cannula used to remove the fat by suction technique

Liposuction surgery is not a treatment for obesity and is not a replacement for regular exercise and good eating habits. Liposuction does not affect muscle or skin tone. An individual with hanging skin is probably a better candidate for dermatolipectomy or tummy tuck. People with stubborn areas of fat and who exercise regularly are the best candidates for this procedure. Targeting these specific areas with liposuction, the surgeon can sculpt a figure that is more attractive to the patient. Liposuction is often combined with other procedures.

Ideal candidates for liposuction

  • Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions
  • Individuals who are motivated and have specific goals in mind to improve the body image
  • Individuals with ideal body weight with firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone
  • Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle including proper nutrition and fitness

Preoperative evaluation for liposuction

Communication is vital to achieving the patient’s goals. During the initial consultation, patients will have the opportunity to discuss their goals and desired results with the plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon will work closely with the patients to reach an agreement about the expectations from the surgical procedures involved and their long term benefits. Every patient is different. Therefore, a specific treatment regimen is planned to suits an individual’s need. The preoperative evaluation for liposuction includes:

  • Discussion about patients’ expectations and desired outcome
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and previous medical or surgical treatment
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
  • Discussion of type of anaesthesia (under sedation or general anaesthesia)
  • Physical examination of the patient
  • Photography for preoperative and postoperative evaluation

Preparation for liposuction

  • Get laboratory testing or a medical evaluation
  • Adjust your medications if you have certain medical conditions
  • Stop smoking and alcohol well in advance before the scheduled date for surgery
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements before surgery
  • Special instructions will be given on the day before and after surgery

The risks and safety information on liposuction

It is essential for patients to understand that every surgical procedure has its complications and downtime. However, if a patient is assessed correctly before the surgery and postoperative care is given adequately, these risks can be eliminated or reduced.

Some of the common risks of liposuction:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Uneven contours
  • Rippling or loose skin
  • Skin or nerve damage
  • Irregular pigmentation
  • Infection
  • Fat clots
  • Blood clots
  • Excessive fluid loss or fluid accumulation
  • Unfavourable scarring
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Skin discolouration or swelling
  • Asymmetry
  • Pain or discomfort at liposuction sites
  • Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs, and abdominal organs
  • Poor wound healing
  • Possibility of revision surgery
  • Anaesthesia risks such as deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications

Postoperative expectations

After the surgery, a compression garment or elastic bandages will be applied to the targeted areas to minimise the swelling and compress the skin to the new body contour. Temporary dressings or bandages are applied to the incision sites to remove excess blood or fluid. The patient is advised to wear a compression garment (for 3-4 weeks) to minimise the swelling and support the treated areas during the healing phase. There may be swelling, bruises or discomfort at the operated sites for several days that can be controlled with oral medications. Oral antibiotics will be prescribed to reduce the risk of infection. Stitches at the incisional wounds will be removed on 7-10 days after the surgery. The final result of the surgery will appear within several weeks or months.

The results of liposuction should continue as long as the body weight is maintained and healthy lifestyle is practised. A significant weight gain can reverse the results of liposuction.

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Postoperative care

  • Regular wound dressing at the incisional sites with an antiseptic solution and antibiotic ointment
  • Change the dressing at the incisional sites if they are soaked with blood or fluid
  • Adequate rest for 1-2 days after liposuction surgery
  • Resume exercise and physical activity 2-4 days after surgery
  • The compression garment should be worn for 3-4 weeks after the surgery

How much will liposuction cost?

Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. The cost of liposuction can vary widely.

The cost of liposuction may include:

  • Surgeon’s fee
  • Hospital or surgical facility costs
  • Anaesthesia fees
  • Compression garment
  • Prescriptions for medication, and
  • Medical tests

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure, and most of the health insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery or its complications.