Also known as lipoplasty, liposuction is a cosmetic surgery operation that slims and reshapes specific areas of the body, by removing excess fat deposits. Liposuction is a popular procedure among people who wish to improve their body contours and proportion. It can be performed alone or along with other plastic surgery procedures, such as tummy tuck, breast reduction or facelift.
Areas affected by fat can range from the abdomen, thighs and buttocks, to the neck and arms. Removing too much fat though can have negative aspects, such as an unusual “lumpiness” and/or “dents” in the skin. Nevertheless, liposuction should not be regarded as a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise.
Generally, removing unwanted fat through this procedure requires the use of a cannula (a hollow tube) and an aspirator (a suction device), performing the procedure through small, inconspicuous incisions. Depending on the amount of fluid injection and by the mechanism in which the cannula works, liposuction techniques can be:
Liposuction techniques using ultrasonic waves were developed in the 1980s, but people were occasionally overexposed to the ultrasound energy, which led to tissue damage and other complications. As technology advanced, today ultrasound-assisted liposuction is a safe and fast way to refine and tone problem areas on a body.
VASER stands for Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance, and is a third-generation ultrasound-assisted liposuction tool, delivering energy in pulses through a specially engineered probe. Its advantage is that by using pulsating energy and the specially designed probe, patients are safe from overexposure to ultrasonic waves and the subsequent side effects.
This relaxing, non-surgical treatment ensures patients see and feel the results immediately, with continued improvements in the months to come after a treatment series. The comfortable patient experience makes VASER liposuction a preferred option when it comes to extra help for achieving a desired appearance.
VASER liposuction is tissue-selective, which means that it can specifically target fat, while protecting connective tissues, blood vessels and nerves from damage. It uses a process called LipoSelection® to target specific areas of fat in a specific area. Although it is powerful enough to target large areas of fat throughout the body, the process is gentle enough to also treat delicate areas of the body. Fat can be successfully removed from all major areas of the body, including the face, stomach, back, legs and arms, with finer targeting possible.
A minimally invasive procedure, VASER can be performed in a physician’s office, a hospital or outpatient surgery center, while the patient is under general or local anesthesia. The surgeon will decide the best option for anesthesia considering your health condition. Patients describe the VASER Lipo as like a “hot stone massage”, so you should not expect an uncomfortable experience.
The Incision and Procedure
After you have been sedated, diluted local anesthesia is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. The tumescent saline solution that helps numb the site and shrink the blood vessels wets and fills the area that needs to be treated, making it easier to break up fat tissue. Next, the surgeon will make small incisions to slip a thin, hollow, metallic tube into the layer of subcutaneous fat. The probe transmits sound energy that breaks up and liquefies fat, without damaging the surrounding tissues.
The liquefied fat is removed through a suction process, specially designed to minimize trauma to surrounding tissue structures. The whole procedure may take from one hour to several hours, depending on the number of areas being treated. After the surgeon has finished suctioning and sculpting the area, the incisions will be closed up.
Recovery and Final Results
After the VASER procedure, patients will be provided with special compression garments to help their skin conform to their body’s new contours. Surgeons recommend a short period of rest, typically 12 hours, followed by 2 to 3 weeks of general recovery, when patients should keep away from strenuous activities. As the body heals, the results will become more and more noticeable, with final results typically seen in about 3 to 4 months after the procedure.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and the risks you may be subjected to, along with potential complications. Because high-definition liposculpture is a surgical procedure, risks are still involved and should not be disconsidered. Bleeding, bruising, infection, negative reactions to anesthesia or swelling can develop after the procedure. Other risks include:
Prior to your consent, these risks will be discussed with your surgeon. Special considerations are needed when large amounts of fat are removed. Always address your questions to your plastic surgeon for clarification.
During a liposuction consultation with your surgeon, you should be prepared to discuss your surgical goals, medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments you are undergoing. Information about current medications, vitamins, alcohol and drug use should also be disclosed during your consultation. After the surgeon gathers all necessary information, he or she will recommend a course of treatment after discussing your liposuction options.
In preparing for liposuction surgery, you will need to get lab testing or a medical evaluation to ensure you are physically healthy to go on with the procedure. Before receiving any of the procedures, no anticoagulants should be taken for 2 weeks before the surgery. Smoking and tobacco must be avoided for about 2 months prior to surgery. The surgeon might ask you to take certain medications or adjust your current medications. You should avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, as they can increase bleeding.
Not everybody is a good candidate for liposuction. Candidates for high-definition liposuction procedures should be in general health before surgery, close to their ideal body weight and should have a good muscle tone already. Patients within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin, a positive outlook and specific goals in their mind for body contour are ideal candidates. Also, they should be non-smokers and healthy, without a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that might impair healing.
Remember: liposuction is a viable solution for people bothered by excess fat deposits that do not respond to diet or exercise. By all means, liposuction should not be considered as a replacement for a healthy diet and active exercising!