Many people are concerned about unwanted fat deposits that are present despite dieting, exercise and treatments developed to decrease cellulite. In the past, surgical removal of fat involved making large, conspicuous incisions which resulted in obvious scars. Liposuction is a technique in which high pressure vacuum suction is used to remove fat cells through a small incision, 1/4 to 1/2 inch in length. This is primarily a treatment for contouring the body by removal of unwanted fat deposits. An ideal patient is one who is in reasonably good physical condition with localized areas of unwanted fat. It is not a treatment for obesity. Chronological and physiological age varies tremendously between patients, but the best results are achieved in those with good skin tone regardless of their age. The number of fat cells appear to be constant throughout an individual’s lifetime. With weight gain or loss, the cells change in size. In liposuction, these cells are removed and will not reform, thereby decreasing the number of cells and the excess fatty deposits which previously occurred in the surgical area. Surgeons use the body sculpting technique on fat deposits under the chin and in the neck, the abdomen, the buttocks, thighs, knees and ankles. The most common indications for this surgery in men are the presence of the so–called “love handles,” double chins and excess fat in the abdomen. Our female patients are more likely to request liposuction of the thighs to eliminate “saddle bags,” or the removal of fat in the hips, the lower abdomen, or of the neck to eliminate double chins. We often use facial liposuction in conjunction with face lift surgery to achieve superior results.
Procedure A small hollow tube is inserted through a tiny incision placed in a natural skin crease and the fat is removed by suctioning. No attempt is made to remove all the fat, as this could result in contour irregularities. There are rare instances where ultrasonic liposuction is used instead of conventional liposuction, but these are limited and this procedure carries other possible risks.
Postoperative Period Pressure dressings or girdles are worn for several days after surgery so that the skin will adhere to the new contour and contract properly. The patient may feel a slight burning or mild pain during the immediate postoperative period, but this is short–lived and easily controlled. Due to the swelling that occurs after the procedure, he/she will not see a final result for six to eight weeks after the surgery.
Complications On rare occasions there may be fluid collection under the skin or slight numbness, but this resolves without long–term adverse effects. Contour irregularities within the skin itself (the so–called “cellulite”) which were present before the surgery are not altered with this approach (though if a large depressions exist, these can be augmented and the fat removed.)