Yara Zakharia, Esq.
For firmer skin, less body fat, and a toned body, men and women need not look much further than liposuction. Invented by Italian gynecologist Dr. Giorgio Fischer, this cosmetic surgery procedure made its American debut in the early '80s and has since become the top plastic surgery in the country.
Liposuction involves the surgical removal of bulges, lumps, and specific pockets of fat for purposes of shaping a client's figure into a slimmer profile. Body fat that has resisted exercise and a healthy diet is effectively eliminated through liposuction. Typically, hollow tubes known as cannulae or ultrasonic probes suction the fat out through small incisions.
Liposuction may be performed on any of the following areas of the body:
- Flanks (for men)
For women, the most commonly procedures target the thighs, hips abdomen and facial liposuction areas. Men, on the other hand, tend to seek treatment for their breasts, abdomen, and love handles. Liposuction is also efficacious in correcting a double chin, eliminating lipomas or fat tumors, and removing sweat glands in the armpits. Surgeons can perform liposuction on more than one area of the body at the same time.
This procedure is not intended for individuals seeking to lose weight. The best candidates for liposuction are young patients who are in good health, have elastic skin and have realistic expectations. The surgery, which takes place at a hospital, surgical center or doctor's office, is usually performed by a dermatologist, a plastic surgeon, or any licensed physician.
Liposuction usually lasts anywhere from half an hour to 4 hours, depending on the area being treated. To ascertain whether a prospective patient is eligible for the procedure, the surgeon conducts a full physical exam of the patient. The liposuction begins with the physician utilizing a pen to mark the areas on the patient's body necessitating removal. After administering the anesthesia, an incision is made in the site where the fat will be vacuumed out. The physician inserts a canula or a syringe into the incision to remove the fat. Upon completion of the operation, the patient is usually required to wear a tight garment to ensure that his or her skin remains compressed.
Three of the most utilized liposuction techniques are the following:
In this procedure, the surgeon employs high-frequency sound waves to convert pockets of fat into a liquid state. Tumescent fluid, comprised of epinephrine, saline, and an anesthetic, is injected into the target area to stiffen the fat and facilitate its removal. The surgeon then places a rod into the area in question via a small incision and suctions out the fat. This method works particularly well on areas that are difficult to treat such as the ankles, calves, cheeks, neck, and chin.
Some of the advantages offered by ultrasonic liposuction are as follows:
- Tighter skin
- The capacity to eliminate large quantities of fat at a time
- Ability to attack denser pockets of fat
This cutting-edge method, which is usually performed under local anesthesia, involves the introduction of a laser fiber into areas of fat deposit to melt fat cells and drain them. Typically, each area takes less than 30 minutes to treat.
Benefits associated with laser liposuction include:
- Minimal scarring
- Non-saggy skin
- A youthful and firm skin texture
- A nearly pain-free surgery
- A short recovery period
In this procedure, the surgeon makes a number of small incisions surrounding the area to be treated. Micro-cannulas are then placed in the openings in order to remove the fat. These smaller tubes enable the surgeon to be more precise in fat removal and to proceed gradually and in a more effective manner. The fat is injected with tumescent fluid, which consists of a local anesthetic, adrenaline, and saline. Upon absorbing the anesthetic, the fatty tissues swell and become firm. Tumescent liposuction makes possible the treatment of a large area of fat while the client is under local anesthesia.
Some of the commonly-encountered advantages offered by this method, as compared to traditional liposuction, are as follows:
- Minimal scarring
- Reduced swelling and bruising
- Shorter recovery period
- Lack of necessity for intravenous fluid replacement
- Decreased likelihood of infection
- Less blood loss
- Minimal discomfort after the surgery
Patients can usually resume their daily activities within a few days following the procedure. Studies have shown that the overwhelming majority of patients are extremely pleased with the results of their surgery. Prospective clients may view liposuction before and after photos online or request a portfolio from different plastic surgeons in their area. Liposuction costs range from $2,000 to $10,000, with the average price per area treated being approximately $3,500.
[page updated December 2008]