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Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits, improving your body contours and proportion, and ultimately, enhancing your self-image.
Despite good health and a reasonable level of fitness, some people may still have a body with disproportionate contours due to localized fat deposits. These areas may be due to family traits rather than a lack of weight control or fitness. Liposuction surgery can be used to treat stubborn fat pockets in many parts of the body including:
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In some cases, liposuction is performed alone, in other cases it is used with plastic surgery procedures such as a facelift, breast reduction or a tummy tuck.
Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity and is not a replacement for regular exercise and good eating habits. It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite, the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips and buttocks. People with stubborn areas of fat and who exercise regularly are the best candidates for this procedure.
Why It Is Done
The main purpose of liposuction is to reshape one or more areas of your body, not to reduce body weight. Liposuction is typically used on "problem" areas that have not responded well to diet and exercise. These areas are often on the outer thighs and hips on women and the waist and back on men. The face, neck, abdomen, back, buttocks, legs, and upper arms are all commonly treated areas.
Liposuction is sometimes used in combination with other cosmetic surgery procedures, such as a "tummy tuck" (abdominoplasty), breast reduction, or face-lift. Liposuction may also be used to treat certain medical conditions, including:
One of the following liposuction techniques may be used:
Tumescent liposuction - several liters of a saline solution with a local anesthetic lidocaine and vessel-constrictor epinephrine (adrenaline) is pumped subcutaneously (below the skin) in the area that is to be suctioned. Epinephrine helps minimize bleeding, bruising and post-operative swelling. The fat is suctioned (sucked out) through small suction tubes (microcannulas). This is the most popular form of liposuction.
The amount of liquid pumped into the area may be up to three times the amount of fat to be removed. This volume of fluids creates a space between the muscle and the fatty tissue, allowing more maneuverability for the cannula.
Wet liposuction - a small amount of fluid with less volume than the amount of fat to be removed is injected into the target area. The fluid is similar to the one used in tumescent liposuction and minimizes bleeding and bruising. The fluid helps loosen the fat cells. The fat cells are suctioned out.
Super-wet liposuction - this technique uses less liquid that tumescent liposuction; about the same amount of liquid as fat to be removed. Otherwise, the technique is very similar to tumescent liposuction. The patient may need a separate anesthetic.
Dry liposuction - no fluid is injected before fat is removed. This method is seldom used today. There is a higher risk of bruising and bleeding.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) also known as ultrasonic liposuction - the cannula is energized with ultrasound. This makes the fat melt away on contact - the ultrasound vibrations burst the walls of the fat cells, emulsifying the fat (liquefying it) and making it easier to suction out. This method is a good choice for working on more fibrous areas, such as the male breast, back, and in areas where liposuction had been done before.
UAL is especially useful for stubborn fat accumulations. However, longer incisions in the skin are needed for this procedure, and there is a risk of skin or internal burns. This procedure takes longer than the others, because it is often done alongside tumescent liposuction. It is also more expensive. After ultrasonic liposuction, it is necessary to perform suction-assisted liposuction to remove the liquefied fat.
UAL techniques were initially linked with cases of tissue damage, generally because of over-exposure to ultrasound energy. A third-generation UAL device - the Vaser Lipo system - prevents this problem by using pulsed energy delivery and a specialized probe that allows surgeons to safely remove excess fat.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAS), also known as Powered liposuction - uses a specialized cannula with a mechanized system that rapidly moves back-and-forth, allowing the surgeon to pull out fat more easily. It is similar to traditional UAL, but the surgeon does not need to make so many manual movements, as in other methods.
This method may sometimes cause less swelling and pain, and may allow the surgeon to remove fat with more precision, especially in smaller areas.
Laser Assisted Lipolysis (LAL) or laser-guided lipo - requires the use of tumescent fluid. It is a far less invasive and bloody procedure than the traditional liposuction method for removing fat. A microcannula is inserted through a small incision to deliver laser energy and heat into subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin).
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