The ideal patient for liposuction surgery is healthy and physically active, with a normal or only moderately elevated body weight. Liposuction is recommended to treat focal deposits of excess adipose tissue rather than as a weight loss technique. Common areas treated in Dr. Andrade’s practice include the thighs, abdomen, flanks (“love handles”), and rolls under the armpits. During your consultation, Dr. Andrade will ask about your specific physical concerns and your expectations of surgery. During the physical examination of the areas to be liposuction contoured, the amount of adipose tissue, skin quality, cellulite or contour irregularities will be identified.
Liposuction procedures can be performed with only local anesthetic, under sedation, or full general anesthetic. The type of anesthetic depends on the amount and type of liposuction being performed, and the preferences of the patient and surgeon. Liposuction involves removing excess fat through small incisions 3-5mm long. One or more incisions are made near the region to be contoured. First, a small metal tube called a cannula is used to infiltrate the area with fluid that helps to loosen the fat, and decrease bleeding or pain. Next, another cannula is used to remove the fat under suction. The incisions are closed with hidden dissolving sutures. Postoperatively, a special compression garment is worn to decrease swelling and bruising.
After the operation it is normal to have some drainage of blood-tinged fluid from the liposuction incision sites. This will usually stop within 1-2 days. Most patients are doing all of their activities of daily living within 1 day after liposuction surgery, but Dr. Andrade recommends avoiding vigorous exercise for at least 4 weeks, particularly if the exercise involves the treated area of the body. Usually the garment is worn for a minimum of 2-3 weeks. Some patients will see a significant difference in the appearance of the liposuctioned area within a few days after surgery, but it takes a minimum of 3 months for the swelling to completely resolve and the final result to become apparent.
Benefits, Risks and Limitations of Liposuction
The majority of patients are very satisfied with the results of liposuction surgery. While complications are uncommon, it is important to understand the risks associated with surgery. Cosmetic problems after liposuction include contour irregularities, asymmetry, skin colour or elasticity changes. Medical complications include significant blood loss, fluid collections under the skin (seroma), chronic numbness or pain, and infection. Rarely, life-threatening complications can occur including but not limited to injury to internal organs, heart problems such as arrythmias, lung problems such as pulmonary embolism (blood clot), or fat embolism (fat particles in the bloodstream). The risks significantly increase if large amounts of fat are removed, or multiple areas are liposuctioned simultaneously. Liposuction surgery does not improve the appearance of stretch marks, cellulite, or significantly improve skin tone. This information is intended to complement the advice of a plastic surgeon obtained during a proper consultation, and it is by no means exhaustive or complete.