A technique called "tumescent liposuction" is the most common method for removing fat around the stomach, buttocks, thighs and ankles. It's also considered the safest. "Tumescent" means that large amounts of buffered salt water are injected into fatty tissue beneath the skin. The doctor makes a cut in the fatty area to be treated, then inserts beneath the flesh a strawlike tube called a cannula that is attached to a vacuum. At the end of the cannula is a stiff wand. The doctor moves it back and forth in rapid motions to loosen fat. The procedure takes 45 minutes to two hours, with a recovery time of up to two weeks. The full effect of liposuction is seen six to 12 weeks after the procedure is performed. After the procedure, the area is bandaged and the patient must wear a compression garment for one to two weeks. Pain and bruising may last up to two weeks, and swelling may last for two weeks to two months.
Good skin tone is essential to a good outcome, since the skin needs to snap back into the body’s new contours once the fat is removed. “If a patient has good skin elasticity, they’re going to have a really good result,” says New York plastic surgeon Dr. John Mesa. “But if the patient has bad elasticity, like a woman who’s had multiple pregnancies and the skin on her belly is too stretched, the skin isn’t going to shrink—and you’ll be left with sagging” (unless lipo is paired with a tummy tuck).
Following liposuction, patients often experience some soreness and tenderness in the treatment area. This can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication, and a physician may prescribe stronger medication, if needed. However, this discomfort is typically minimal, and patients can typically return to work about two days after their procedures. If they experience severe discomfort or if the soreness gets worse after several days, patients should alert their doctors.
Before exercising after liposuction, patients should consult their surgeons for specific, individual guidelines for liposuction recovery. Most plastic surgeons encourage patients to begin a gentle walking routine within three to four days of their liposuction. Mild exercise protects against the formation of blood clots in the legs and other post-surgical complications.
Cryoliposlysis is an alternative fat reduction treatment that does have FDA approval. This treatment uses cool temperatures to freeze stubborn fat cells without impacting the surrounding skin or muscle. As the cells crystalize, the body can expel them naturally over a period of several months. To perform this treatment, the doctor will apply cooling panels to the treatment area for about 40 minutes. Like most patients, you will likely find the session relaxing, and you can read or even nap as your fat cells are frozen away. You may enjoy optimal results after just one appointment, or you may benefit from multiple sessions. You should be aware, however, that this treatment is more suited to some areas of the body than others. Doctors typically use cryolipolysis to treat the abdomen, thighs, and hips.
If a woman has enlarged breasts, they can cause back pain, neck pain, headaches, and poor self-esteem. Liposuction is a more effective and less invasive method of breast reduction than other forms of breast reduction surgery. Using liposuction to remove excess fat has a natural lifting effect on the breast because there is less volume weighing it down.
I perform a liposuction breast lift/reduction known as Breast LipoLift®. This specialized technique spares more nerves and blood supply as well as removes tissue from the areas you don't want such as near the armpit and the lower portion hanging near your stomach. Once I use this to shape the breast, I then remove the excess skin to tighten the breast and create a more proportional silhouette with better cleavage. This procedure is also more accurate than traditional breast lifts or reductions since I use 3D measurements to uncover size asymmetries. During the procedure I remove exactly whatever is more from the larger side to get as close to symmetry as possible. Since I perform this less invasively the recovery time is faster and drains are not necessary. Over 90% of my patients are out to dinner the next evening taking only Advil and Tylenol if even needed. The size would depend on the proportion with your body versus going for a cup size. It has been proven to have less complications than traditional breast reduction (please see my Breast LipoLift® page web page) and should not affect nipple sensation, mammograms, cancer risk or breast-feeding.
If you have been told that you require liposuction for medical reasons, you can be certain that insurance will only cover the extent of treatment needed to relieve your symptoms. In many cases, this amount of treatment is not going to result in flattering aesthetics. As such, you should consider the benefits of paying for further treatment that will help you not only achieve relief, but also an aesthetic enhancement that can help you feel confident about your appearance. Many practices, including mine, will work with patients in need of liposuction for medical reasons to determine a more comprehensive treatment plan, often at a discounted rate.