|Average Cost||$3,050 – $6,900+|
|Return to Daily Activities||4-6 weeks|
|Return to Work||3-7 days|
|Procedure Length||1-6+ hours|
|Procedure Location||Physicians Medical Center|
The popularity and widespread appeal of liposuction have made it the most frequently performed cosmetic operation in the United States. Liposuction is a surgical procedure designed to removed localized fatty deposits that the patient finds displeasing. There are several methods of liposuction which can be utilized to contour the body. It is often a combination of these methods that produces the best and safest results.
Suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL), or traditional liposuction, uses a stiff, hollow tube directed into the area to be treated. The combination of a vacuum suction and the back forth motion produce the mechanical process for fat removal. The “Swiss cheese” type removal of the fat produces the desired contour.
Ultrasonic Assisted Lipoplasty
Ultrasonic-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) is one of the most recent advances in all of plastic surgery. Ultrasonic energy is delivered inside the skin (internal) through a stiff tube emitting a frequency designed to specifically destroy fat cells. Some of the advantages cited include less bleeding, improved contour ability, and better results in particular areas of the body such as the back, chest, and love handles. It has also been used with equipment designed to deliver the energy from outside the skin (external) then the liquid fat is removed using the vacuum suction.
Ultrasonic liposuction has several advantages but the traditional vacuum suction serves an important adjunct in producing the final contour. Some of the differences between the techniques include the incisions, length of surgery, and potential complications. Although UAL may require more incisions, the size of each incision is only slightly larger than using SAL alone. UAL does produce heat, and in rare cases, may result in burns on the skin. Using the ultrasonic technique does take longer than SAL and subsequently higher costs for facility and anesthesia. This may make it difficult to compare the cost of one surgeon to another if the ultrasonic technique is not utilized by both surgeons.
While the surgery does take longer, there is less surgeon fatigue with UAL since the energy is delivered to the tissues instead of the surgeon’s mechanical motion of the cannula. In most cases, this allows the surgeon to spend more time sculpting the tissues and ultimately producing a better contour. Since UAL is specific for fat cells, the specialized fat cells around nerve tissue may also be affected. This may produce a prolonged hypersensitivity or “sunburn” type sensation in the treated areas. Although numbness is not unusual in the postoperative period, this hypersensitive sensation can occur for up to several months.
Tumescent Technique is Always Used
The tumescent technique is a standard part of all of my liposuction cases. This is the injection of a dilute solution of lidocaine and epinephrine into the areas to be treated. The lidocaine is utilized even if general anesthesia is used because it helps to control the postoperative pain. The epinephrine is a medication which constricts the small blood vessels and limits the bleeding and bruising.
There are now electrically powered cannulas as well as microwave assisted lipoplasty. All of these techniques employ the basic principles of body contouring and specialized training is required before employing some of the advanced methods of lipoplasty.
The majority of patients undergoing liposuction are women aged 30-39 years of age. Men now make up 11% of the liposuction patients.¹ Many different areas of the body can be contoured including the abdomen, thighs, back, love handles, knees, calves, ankles, arms, breasts, and under the chin. The patient has usually explored non-surgical alternatives to liposuction such as “spot reduction” exercises and diet. Liposuction offers a safe and effective solution, with minimal scars and excellent results in properly selected patients.
Proper selection of candidates and understanding expectations of the procedure is probably the most important aspect of the process. It must be understood that the liposuction procedure is designed to alter the body contour and is not meant to necessarily result in weight loss.
Potential complications which may occur with both UAL and SAL are asymmetry, waviness, prolonged skin discoloration, and lidocaine-associated effects. While it may be common (5-20%) that some revision surgery may be needed, it is advised that you allow six months for your “final” result to be evaluated.
Liposuction is generally an outpatient procedure. Given some of the bad press that this procedure has had over the past several years, it is very important that the facility has the proper safety equipment and that the anesthesia is provided by experienced personnel. Dr. Peters performs all of his surgeries at licensed facilities.
The recovery from surgery varies depending on the areas that were treated. I recommend to most of my patients that they take a week off from work. You can expect a majority of the soreness to resolve by two weeks. A compression garment is worn for six weeks both day and night. These garments can be worn discretely beneath your clothes.
I will also recommend that you begin a skin care protocol in order to properly prepare your skin for surgery. An individualized program under the care of our medical staff will provide the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do fat cells return after lipoplasty?
A common question that is asked regards the fat cells that are removed and whether they return. By the completion of puberty, you have all the fat cells that your body will grow. The removal of the fat cells is permanent and no new fat cells will replace them. The result, however, is not permanent in that if you were to gain weight, the cells surrounding the treated areas would simply enlarge.
Does fat go to other areas after lipoplasty?
Another concern involves weight gain following liposuction and the fat “preferentially” going to other areas of the body. If there is weight gain following your procedure, it is unlikely to “show” in the treated areas first but the gain is throughout the body. This will result in other areas revealing the weight gain prior to the treated area.
How does liposuction affect cellulite?
Cellulite is sometimes a concern for patients who have liposuction. This condition is poorly understood and a multitude of therapies have been suggested, both surgical and non-surgical. For the most part, liposuction will not improve the appearance if cellulite. In fact, it will more likely make the situation worse.