What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a procedure where fat is removed from beneath the skin using small tubes and very small access incisions. A number of terms are used to describe this technique including lipoplasty, liposuction, liposculpture and liposelection. There are also recent developments using more advanced techniques which have increased the level of refinement of the procedure. These modern techniques involve the use of more accurate sculpting techniques combined with the use of energy assisted liposuction systems such as VASER liposelection.
Since liposuction is a technique for improving body shape rather than helping with weight loss the best results are seen in patients who are not overweight. It is a technique which is ideal for removing and resculpting fatty deposits in areas that are resistant to weight loss, exercise or dietary modification.
Another condition necessary for a good result is elastic skin that will shrink after after fat removal, and give a new improved contour. Loose inelastic skin would not give a good result because the area emptied of fat would form loose folds of skin. Mr Chana will advise you of your suitability for the procedure following a careful consultation. Occasionally if there is excessive loose skin, alternative procedures involving surgical tightening of the skin may be more suitable. It is therefore advisable that your surgeon is widely experienced in all of these techniques in order to provide you with the most appropriate advice. Very often Mr Chana sees patients who have been inappropriately treated with liposuction by practitioners untrained in plastic surgery and corrective procedures have to be carried out.
What are the different types of liposuction?
This is the standard form of liposuction which involves an injection of fluid that allows the fat to be more easily removed with reduced bruising and pain. In fact most forms of liposuction involve the injection of fluid for these effects
This is merely the term used for a technique of standard liposuction which uses finer instruments to produce more accurate body sculpting and where fat is removed in a more superficial plane closer to the surface of the skin.
This technique uses ultrasound energy to emulsify the fat prior to its removal with fine tubes or cannulae. The energy is directed towards fat cells and the surrounding tissues remain unaffected. The advantages are that the fat is removed with minimal trauma thereby significantly enhancing recovery times with less bruising and discomfort. It is also particularly useful for removing firmer areas of fat such as on the back and male chest.
Mr Chana uses this technique in the majority of cases and he was one of the first BAAPS accredited surgeons to introduce this technique in the UK. He therefore has one of the largest experience of this technique. ( link to VASER lipsuction page)
You can view a video of VASER liposuction on this website ( place link here) and also read a Daily Mail article on Mr Chana’s technique of using VASER to improve the results of facelift surgery ( place link here).
What happens during the operation?
Liposuction is usually carried out as a day case procedure unless very large amounts of fat are to be removed in which case an overnight stay is required.
Liposuction can be carried out under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic depending on the amount of fat to be removed. Although there are many ‘high street’ clinics offering liposuction or Vaser under local anaesthetic extreme caution should be exercised since large amounts of fat removal under local anaesthetic can cause significant complications. In many cases general anaesthetic is in fact safer.
During the surgery very small openings (5 – 10 mm) are made through which fluid is injected to help soften the fat and reduce the bruising before using a cannula to remove the fat. If VASER liposelection is the technique of choice then an ultrasonic cannula is gently inserted into the area to emulsify the fat before gentle suction removal of the fat is applied.
After the surgery, a compression garment needs to be worn to allow the skin to heal in its new position. This garment will need to be worn for between 3 to 6 weeks.
What is the recovery?
Discomfort after liposuction is usually very minor and easily controlled with mild analgesics which will be prescribed. Aspirin or aspirin like medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets) must not be taken.
The most important aspect of treatment post operatively is the wearing of pressure garments which must be used for 3 weeks to 6 weeks. These garments will be provided for you.
Bruising and swelling to a varying degree may occur after liposuction but this subsides over a period of 1-2 weeks and the extent of this can be lessened by taking Arnica for 1 week prior to surgery and 2 weeks afterwards. Once the swelling has subsided, firmness of the treated area is usual for some period of months before for the treated areas to return to normal softness. As a result it can take 3 to 6 months to completely visualize the final result.
Numbness and itching of the area may be expected initially and should gradually return to normal (permanent areas of numbness are rare).
The very small scars heal almost imperceptibly and every effort is made to ensure these are in hidden areas or existing skin creases where possible.
What are the risks?
Infection after liposuction is possible but unlikely and is easily treated by antibiotics.
Occasionally, some firmness and thickening of the treated areas may be visible but usually this soften over a few months. Very rarely minor irregularities may persist.
If large amounts of fat are removed, loose skin may be a problem, dependant upon the skin site and type. Some patients are fortunate and have elastic skin which contracts well, whereas others (usually those with stretch marks) may require skin tightening procedures in addition to the liposuction.