What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure mainly used for cosmetic reasons and is also known as liposuction-assisted lipectomy, lipoplasty, or simply lipo. In this procedure, fat is removed from certain parts of the body to reshape the contours of the body that aren’t responsive to exercise and dietary changes.
Apart from the initial weight loss after the surgery, it should be noted that liposuction is not a weight reduction surgery and it can not be used as a treatment for obesity. Even though liposuction removes fat cells from the body it can not do anything to prevent the leftover fat cells from enlarging if the patient gains weight.
The recommendation is to lose extra weight before the surgery through exercise and dietary changes and then consider getting liposuction to get rid of any fat that is not going away like chin fat or belly fat. Research has also shown that those who follow weight loss practices show better postoperative results. Liposuction is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery in the United States.
Best candidates for liposuction
Liposuction gives the best results in non-smokers and individuals who are in good health and have been counseled to have realistic expectations at the end of the procedure. Those who have good skin elasticity and muscle tone are ideal candidates.
- Quit smoking. Smokers are advised to quit smoking at least 3 weeks before the operation as smoking increases the risk of infection in wounds.
- The individual should inform the doctor about any medications they take regularly
- Be healthy. The ideal candidates are those who are in good health and free from dangerous diseases as they can increase the risk of side effects
- Those who have excess fat that won’t go away from exercise can benefit greatly from liposuction
- Those with healthy, elastic skin as sagging skin can lead to wrinkles post-operatively
- The individual should have realistic expectations regarding the outcome of the operation. Liposuction can help permanently get rid of extra fat but new fat cells in the body can still increase in size if the patient does not maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet
Indications For Liposuction In Singapore
Mostly, liposuction is recommended for individuals to improve their body shape instead of a weight loss solution. Some individuals may have been following a healthy lifestyle accompanied by a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep. However, good lifestyle habits may not be able to help them achieve their ideal body contours. Therefore, liposuction is advised to the individual only when lifestyle changes have failed to improve the patient’s weight gain. Any individual who is considering getting liposuction should consult with their doctor about the benefits and drawbacks of this procedure and they should make an informed and well-guided decision.
The results of liposuction are not dramatic but are instead subtle. The body areas where liposuction treatment is mostly performed, include:
- Under the chin or the neckline
- Inner knees
- Upper arms
Although liposuction is mainly performed for cosmetic reasons, it may sometimes be used for therapeutic purposes such as:
- Lipodystrophy syndrome
- Severe weight loss after obesity
Things to know before the procedure
Before the procedure, the doctor will ask the patients to undergo some tests to make sure that they are healthy enough to have the surgery. The doctor may also advise the patients who regularly use aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications, to stop taking them at least 14 days before the operation. Women using contraceptive pills may be asked to stop taking them and individuals with anemia are usually prescribed iron supplements before the operation. The patients after being informed about every aspect of the surgery are asked to sign a consent form that confirms that they have been told about all the possible risks, benefits, and alternatives to liposuction.
About Liposuction Procedure
The procedure is generally performed under general anesthesia and each procedure can take between 2 to 4 hours or more. When liposuction is to be done in a very small area, a local anesthetic can be used, and the procedure might even be performed with the patient standing up.
There are many types of surgical techniques for liposuction. These include:
In this procedure, a lot of saline with local anesthetic and epinephrine (vasoconstrictor) is inserted under the skin of the area where liposuction is to be done. The fat in the area is removed or sucked out using small tubes. This is the most common technique used for liposuction.
Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL)
In this procedure, also known as ultrasonic liposuction, a cannula energized with ultrasound radiations is used. The fat melts on contact with the cannula. The ultrasound waves destroy the fat cell membranes which lead to liquefaction of the fat, making it easier for the suction device to remove it. This technique is particularly helpful when liposuction is to be done in fibrous areas, like the male breast, back, and also in areas where the previous liposuction had been performed.
Power-assisted liposuction is done by using a specialized cannula which has a mechanized system that moves back and forth rapidly allowing the doctor to remove the fat with ease. This technique is also called powered liposuction. This technique requires less energy from the surgeon to remove fat and is suitable for liposuction over larger areas.
Laser-Assisted Lipolysis (LAL)
This technique, also called laser-guided lipo, uses tumescent fluid. This is a less invasive procedure compared to the traditional liposuction techniques. In this technique, a small incision is made through which a small tube is inserted to pass laser energy and heat into the fatty area under the skin. Commonly used for sculpting to achieve more precise contours or even our irregularities.
After completing the operation, the surgeon might not apply the sutures to allow the leftover fluid or blood to drain out for some time.
What to expect after the procedure
Depending on the amount of fat removed from the procedure, patients who have undergone liposuction can return home on the same day or they have to spend the night at the hospital. The operated area will be fitted with an elastic corset known as a compression garment or bandages for support. The patient may be prescribed antibiotics after the operation to prevent infections and painkillers for relief of pain. The patient will have to come for a follow-up to get the stitches removed. There may be postoperative bruising in the operated area and the patient may also feel numbness in that area which usually improves over the following months as the body recovers.
The results of liposuction are not evident until some time because of inflammation in the area. This inflammation mostly takes about 4 weeks to subside but in some individuals, it may take a few months. After the inflammation goes down the area that was operated on will look less bulky. These results are usually permanent in those that maintain their weight after the procedure but patients who do not may notice changes in their fat distribution.
The complications after any operation depend on the surgeon’s skill and training and also on how large the operation is. The complications associated with liposuction are:
- Severe bruising: Bruises are common and often remain for several weeks.
- Inflammation: Swelling due to inflammation may last for 4 weeks to 6 months. Fluid may leak from the incision site.
- Thrombophlebitis: Inflammation of the veins may occur following blood clot formation.
- Bleeding: Bleeding is a common complication of many operative procedures.
- Contour irregularities: In patients with poor skin elasticity, poor wound healing, or if the fat has been removed unevenly then the skin may look withered or bumpy after the operation.
- Numbness: The area that was operated on may be numb for some time.
- Infections: Skin infections can rarely occur after liposuction. They need to be treated through surgery and they carry a risk of scar formation.
- Perforation: This is very rare and is greatly minimized if the liposuction procedure is done by an experienced plastic surgeon.
- Anesthetic complications: These can occur in any surgery in which general anesthesia is used.
- Pulmonary embolism: This is a life-threatening condition in which fat particles enter the bloodstream and block vessels in the lungs.
- Pulmonary edema: Sometimes the fluid injected in the body may accumulate in the lungs.
- Hypersensitivity reaction: If the patient is allergic to any drugs or materials used in the procedure, it may precipitate a hypersensitive or allergic reaction.
- Burns: The movement of the cannula can cause friction burns affecting the skin or nerves.
The approximate cost of liposuction for each area, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons ranges between $3,000 to $5000 on average but the costs can vary. However, this only includes the surgeon fee and apart from that the patient also has to consider the cost for anesthesia, hospital stay, laboratory tests, and supportive treatment. The total cost depends significantly upon the site, size, and number of areas being operated along with the type of surgical technique used.
Liposuction is an operation mostly used for cosmetic reasons, to change the contours of the body by removing excess and stubborn fat. The ideal candidates are healthy individuals who don’t smoke, follow a healthy lifestyle, and have elastic skin. There are many techniques of liposuction that can be performed according to the need of the patient. The procedure takes about 2 to 4 hours and can be performed under local or general anesthesia. The results are mostly subtle and are not noticeable immediately because of the inflammation. The surgeon’s fee can range from $3000 to $5000 but costs vary.