Suction-assisted lipectomy - also known as liposuction, fat suction, or suction lipectomy - is a technique to remove unwanted fat deposits from specific areas of the body, including the chin, neck, and cheeks, the upper arms and above the breasts, the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs, and the knees, calves, and ankles.

If you’re considering liposuction

Liposuction is not a substitute for weight reduction, but is a method of removing localised fat that doesn’t respond to dieting and exercise.
If you’re considering liposuction, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure: when it can help, how it’s performed, and what results you can expect. It can’t answer all your questions since a lot depends on your unique circumstances. Please ask your doctor about anything you don’t understand.
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The best candidates for liposuction

Liposuction can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.

The best candidates for liposuction are of relatively normal weight but have pockets of excess fat in particular areas. You should be physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations. Most important, having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final contour. (Hanging skin won’t reshape to your body’s new contours, and may require an additional procedure to surgically remove the excess skin. This procedure will leave visible scars.)

Liposuction is not recommended if you’ve had recent surgery in the area to be sculpted, if you have poor blood circulation in that area, or if you have heart or lung disease. Also, liposuction by itself will not improve the dimpled skin known as cellulite, although some plastic surgeons offer other techniques that may improve this condition.

Women may have liposuction performed under the chin, on their hips, thighs, and stomach, and in the under-arm and breast area.
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All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk

Suction-assisted lipectomy is normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped, and the physician is adequately trained in body contouring as well as general surgery.

Nevertheless, in rare instances, the procedure may cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or very extensive areas are suctioned at one time. Other infrequent but possible complications include fluid accumulation (which must be drained) and injury to the skin. Although serious complications are infrequent, infection or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness. You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon who can admit you to an accredited hospital, and by closely following the advice you’re given.

The scars from liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view, even in a bikini. However, other cosmetic problems may occur, even if your surgeon is very skilled. They may include rippling or bagginess of the skin over the treated area, and pigmentation changes (such as brown spots) that may become permanent if exposed to the sun. Asymmetry (uneven contour or shape) sometimes requires a second procedure.

For men, common sites include under the chin and around the waist. Liposuction may also be used in the reduction of enlarged male breasts, a condition known as gynaecomastia.
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Planning your surgery

In your initial consultation, I will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie, and carefully assess your skin tone. I’ll also explain any alternative body-contouring methods that may be appropriate – such as abdominoplasty – and discuss the options or the combination of procedures that would be best for you.

Additionally, I will explain the anaesthesia that will be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved. During this consultation, be sure to tell me about any large weight losses or gains you’ve had at any time. You should also inform your surgeon if you smoke, and if you’re taking any medication, vitamins, or other drugs.

Please ask any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
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Preparing for your surgery

You will be given specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking and taking medication. If you develop a cold or an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, your procedure may have to be postponed. A course of Arnica tablets for five days before surgery may be helpful to reduce bruising. While you’re making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and, if needed, to help you out for a day or two. Liposuction will be performed in hospital and, unless minor, will require a hospital stay of 1-2 days.

Types of anaesthesia

If your procedure is minor, liposuction can be performed under local anaesthesia, which numbs the area, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort. The majority of patients will have a general anaesthetic and be admitted to hospital overnight.

Clinical photographs will be taken before your operation.

The best candidates for liposuction are of normal weight with localised areas of excess fat: for example, in the buttocks, hips, and thighs.
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The surgery

Liposuction usually takes an hour or two, but the time required may vary from thirty minutes to several hours, depending on the area and amount being suctioned. To begin the procedure, a small incision is made, just large enough to allow the insertion of a hollow tube called a cannula. The opposite end of the cannula is attached to a machine that creates a strong vacuum. The cannula is then manipulated deep within the fat layers under the skin, breaking up the fat and suctioning it out. Sometimes additional incisions are needed.

If you’ve had local anaesthesia, you’ll feel some vibration and friction during the procedure. You may also feel a stinging sensation as the cannula moves closer to the muscle.
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After your surgery

After surgery a snug elastic dressing, girdle, or body stocking must be worn over the treated area to control swelling and bleeding, and to help your skin shrink to fit your new contour. You may need to wear this garment continuously for two to three weeks, then just in the daytime for a few weeks more, depending on your instructions.

Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery. You’ll even be heavier for a while, because of the extra fluids you’ve been given. The suctioned areas will be swollen and bruised, and you may feel a burning sensation. The pain can be controlled with medications prescribed, though you may still feel stiff and sore for a few days. You may temporarily feel numb in the suctioned area; but don’t worry, feeling will return to it.
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Getting back to normal

Healing is a gradual process. You will be encouraged to start walking around as soon as possible to help prevent blood clots forming in your legs, but to avoid more strenuous activity for two to four weeks. Any stitches will be removed in five to ten days, and you should be back at work in five days to two weeks depending on how much you’ve had done. You can resume activity where you feel able and depending on my advice.

Most of the swelling and discoloration will be gone a month or two after surgery, but some swelling can remain for three months or more. I will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress and to see if any additional procedures are needed.

If you have any unusual symptoms between visits or any questions about what you can and can’t do, call the team.
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Your new look

Liposuction is highly effective in giving you a new body contour with very little scarring. The results can be permanent, providing you eat sensibly and exercise regularly. If you gain weight, you’ll probably gain it more uniformly throughout your body, not just in the former “bulges”.

As healing progresses, a more proportional look will emerge. Most patients are very satisfied with the results of their liposuction – they feel more comfortable in a wide variety of clothes, and more at ease with their bodies. As long as your expectations are realistic, you should be happy with your new shape.
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