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The popularity of plastic surgery procedures continues to increase; in 2017, there were 17.5 million procedures performed, a 2 percent rise over the 2016 total. Within this number, liposuction represents close to a quarter-million instances and a 5 percent rise over the previous year. Following are the 10 most important things to know about this increasingly popular and common plastic surgery procedure.
Liposuction (also known as liposculpture) is a surgical procedure that breaks down and removes the subcutaneous fat layer (fat just under the skin) in parts of the body that are notoriously and stubbornly resistant to diet and exercise. This is not a weight loss procedure; instead, it is a way to remove a pocket of fat that is not responsive in otherwise healthy individuals.
Some common "problem" areas of the body where liposuction is performed includes:
Less common areas include the ankles, inner thigh and upper back. The optimal area for each individual is unique, as each person responds to diet and exercise differently. Qualified plastic surgeons consult with patients to determine the areas of their body where liposuction makes sense.
The best candidates for liposuction are healthy individuals at or close to their goal weight. They are also nonsmokers.
Ideal patients have stubborn subcutaneous fat, in which fat resides between muscle and skin, and not visceral fat in which the layer of fat resides beneath the muscle layer around the abdominal organs.
Additionally, surgeons will evaluate the condition of a prospective patient's skin before recommending liposuction. Patients with good skin elasticity are good candidates for liposuction, whereas patients with loose skin or cellulite are not, as these conditions can result in uneven or dimpled skin.
Contrary to popular belief, liposuction is not a weight-loss treatment. Instead, it is a fat reduction procedure. The amount of fat that can be removed in an area during a single procedure will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the surgeon's assessment of the patient's health and his or her aesthetic goals.
Plastic Surgeons will provide instructions for the days leading up to liposuction, but in general, it is most important to enlist a supportive friend or family member that can help drive to and from the surgical center and assist with postsurgical care. Certain medications like aspirin and blood thinners may need to be paused before the procedure. In some cases, blood work is done ahead of time to ensure that the client is a good candidate for anesthesia. Finally, the day of surgery, there will be a period where no food or drink should be taken; this is typically about 12 hours before the appointment time.
Liposuction is a surgical procedure that involves making small incisions in the skin and inserting a tool called a cannula into the fat pocket. This cannula is attached to a suction device or a syringe to extract the fat.
This is typically an outpatient surgery, so while patients may be put under general anesthesia they are often allowed to go home the same day as the surgery.
In most procedures, the patient can return to work in a few days and resume all normal activities, like exercise, within 2-4 weeks or less, though recovery and postsurgical care varies depending on the area treated and the amount of fat removed.
Following instructions is the best way to have a recovery that is short and as painless as possible. Some discomfort may be felt. However, lifestyle choices like rest, hydration and not smoking will make healing time faster and complications fewer. The most common postsurgical effects can include some swelling, bruising and tenderness in the area of the procedure. The surgical team will offer some options on pain relief after surgery as well as a list of pain relievers to avoid.
Common postsurgical instructions also include wearing compression garments in the areas that were treated. Modified activities may be recommended for a few weeks afterward to reduce strain on the target areas.
The cannula is a small instrument, and because of this, the scars are small as well. The number of scars is based on the number of insertion points needed to address the area. Scarring also varies depending on the patient's skin quality. Surgeons will discuss location and the ways in which they can minimize the appearance of scarring.
Plastic Surgeons can help you anticipate and visualize realistic results. Immediately after surgery, there will be some swelling and the skin may be loose. Because of this it can take several weeks to months to see the full extent of the results of the procedure.
The fat cells removed during liposuction are permanently removed. It is important to note, however, that patients can still gain new fat cells, so following a healthy diet, lifestyle and exercise plan after treatment can help prevent new fat gain.
When choosing a plastic surgeon for this procedure there are at least ten important questions to ask that will help you determine whether they are a good fit for helping you reach your aesthetic goals:
As more people commit themselves to a healthy lifestyle and seek ways to reach their ideal, liposuction presents an often excellent and cost-effective path to achieving these goals. Better understanding this popular procedure can help patients get the best possible treatment and care.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.