Liposuction is one of the most well-known cosmetic surgery procedures available, and for good reason. It is an effective surgery for the removal of unwanted fat, and has been used for many years on patients of all different backgrounds. Contrary to popular belief, liposuction is not a weight loss substitute and is best used for patients who are not overweight. Instead, liposuction contours the body by removing fat from “problem areas”—pockets of fat in areas like the stomach, hips, and thighs— that do not respond to traditional methods of weight loss, including diet and exercise. The results can be dramatic, creating sleek and slim contours in the treated areas. Patients can have multiple areas treated at in a single surgery, as long as it is safe to do so, as determined by the surgeon performing the procedure.
Liposuction has evolved over the years, and is a much safer and gentler procedure than it once was. There are now several different techniques that fall under the category of liposuction, ranging from the traditional liposuction to ultrasonic, power-assisted and laser liposuction. Here at Emory, we offer two safe and effective options for liposuction: traditional suction assisted lipectomy and ultrasonic lipectomy.
Regardless of the type of liposuction performed, fluid is injected into the treatment area at the beginning of the procedure. This fluid serves to reduce blood loss during the procedure and to facilitate effective fat removal. Ultrasonic liposuction is an advanced technique that uses sound waves to break up the unwanted fat, which can then be removed with suction. This method is often used for patients who have already had liposuction, in areas where the fat deposits are tougher and more fibrous, or when larger areas of fat need to be treated.
Our doctors will discuss your goals for liposuction with you and determine your candidacy for the procedure. If you are a good candidate, you will learn more about the different options for liposuction and get a recommendation for which technique is most appropriate for your needs. Your consultation is your opportunity to express what your goals are, ask any questions you may have, and learn more about the procedure. Our knowledgeable plastic surgeons will guide you through every step of the process, including liposuction cost, potential side effects and risks, and the recovery period.
Candidacy requirements for liposuction are a bit more rigorous than for many other plastic surgery procedures, due to the fact that patients who are not at a stable weight are not likely to get optimal results from the procedure, and should wait to undergo the procedure until their weight is no longer fluctuating. Prospective liposuction patients should be in general good health, at a stable, healthy weight, and have isolated areas of unwanted fat that have not responded to lifestyle changes. Good skin elasticity is also necessary for successful results, as the skin must be able to retract once fat has been removed. Patients should be realistic about both the initial results of the surgery, and the steps necessary to preserve those results following the recovery period.
The liposuction procedure is fairly straightforward, but the two techniques we offer do differ in the technology and approach used. Except for more minor cases, liposuction is typically performed under a general anesthesia.
First, incisions are made in the area(s) to be treated. Fluid is injected through these small incisions. In many cases, ultrasonic liposuction uses a special device is used initially to break up the fat, then traditional liposuction is used to remove the fat and contour the area to create a beautiful, natural-looking result. The incisions are then closed to complete the procedure.
Modern liposuction techniques are designed to minimize trauma to the tissues surrounding the fat, and to reduce the amount of swelling and bruising that will occur during liposuction recovery. However, swelling and bruising are an inevitable part of surgery, and patients will need to take it easy for a week or two following liposuction. During the first few weeks, a compression garment will be used to help prevent fluid accumulation and help with skin contraction. Depending on the areas treated, many patients can resume light activity after a few days and can increase their activity level over the next 2-3 weeks. Swelling will resolve gradually over a period of months, until the final results become apparent, typically six months or so following the surgery. Following liposuction, patients will need to maintain results by exercising regularly and practicing healthy eating habits to maintain a stable weight.