Liposuction Frequently Asked Questions
- Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
- Where and how will you perform my procedure?
- What surgical technique is recommended for me?
- How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
- What are the risks and complications associated with this procedure and how are they handled?
- How can I expect my body to look over time? After pregnancy?
1. Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
For certain individuals, diet and exercise will never get rid of stubborn pockets of fat. The following are some common reasons why you may want to consider liposuction:
- You have a minimal amount of excess skin and good skin elasticity. Loss of skin elasticity with age can compromise liposuction results, but if your skin maintains elasticity, age alone is not a contraindication for liposuction surgery.
- You have localized deposits of fat in your abdomen, arms, thighs and/or neck, which may be the result of heredity and do not disappear with exercise and diet.
- You are physically fit, no more than 20 pounds overweight, and your weight is stable. If you are planning to lose a significant amount of weight or even gain weight (for example, due to pregnancy), this is not the time to undergo liposuction.
- Keep in mind that liposuction does not remove cellulite and cannot tighten loose skin. Dr. Hsu will be able to recommend other procedures to improve those conditions.
2. Where and how will you perform my procedure?
Liposuction removes fat from your body using suction. In this procedure, small, thin, blunt-tipped tubes (cannula) are inserted through small cuts in the skin. Dr. Hsu will move these tubes under your skin to target fat deposits and then suction them out. There are a variety of techniques that facilitate liposuction:
- Tumescent liposuction describes a “wetting solution” with a local anesthetic, such as lidocaine and another medication in IV fluids, which is injected before surgery, causing blood vessels to shrink down or constrict. This allows liposuction to be performed with the patient under local anesthesia, minimizes blood loss and reduces postsurgical pain and bleeding.
- Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL), the most traditional form of liposuction, draws fat out with a vacuum.
- Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) is traditional SAL with the addition of a tool to increase the motion of the cannula, which speeds up fat removal.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) transmits energy through a special hand piece that helps to loosen and melt fat, enabling a greater volume of fat to be removed. This is best for larger areas, dense fat and male patients.
- VASER, a variation of UAL, is an ultrasonic cannula with several grooves that evenly disperse the energy, improving fat disruption and removal.
- Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL), such as Smartlipo and Slimlipo, is a relatively new technology. The theory is that the laser will work like ultrasound to disrupt the fat cells and make fat removal more efficient and less traumatic.
3. What surgical technique is recommended for me?
There are many techniques and new technologies associated with liposuction. Some are traditional, such as suction-assisted liposuction (SAL), and others are relatively new. Dr. Hsu will determine what is best for you based on his past experience, your body type, and your cosmetic goals.
4. How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
It is vitally important that you follow all patient care instructions provided by Dr. Hsu. This will include information about wearing compression garments, taking an antibiotic, and the level of activity that is safe. It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
The first few days after surgery, you should rest quietly. Elevate the affected body part if possible. Remember, you must not take aspirin or certain anti-inflammatory medications. You will most likely wear a post-surgical garment; if it is too tight, notify us right away. The first 48 hours after surgery, you will experience varying degrees of swelling and bruising. The swelling is maximal at 48 hours after surgery and mostly disappears within two to three weeks, but there may be slight residual swelling for up to four months. Bruising is normal and typically disappears within seven to ten days and sutures are usually removed seven to ten days after liposuction.
Avoid straining, bending over and lifting during the early post-operative period. In many cases, you will be able to resume most of your normal activities within ten days or less. Discomfort after liposuction is generally limited to soreness rather than pain. Pain medications are prescribed to lessen any discomfort during the first few days. Patients usually return to work within a few days following a liposuction procedure. It is important to ambulate (walk) as soon as possible after liposuction to discourage swelling and prevent blood clots in the legs. However, avoid strenuous exercise for at least six weeks because it can trigger unnecessary fluid retention in the treated areas. You should wait a minimum of six weeks before exposure to sun and heat, including sunbathing, because of the possibility of swelling. You will wear a compression garment over the treated areas for four to six weeks to control swelling and promote skin contraction.
5. What are the risks and complications associated with this procedure and how are they handled?
Most patients are pleased with the outcome of their liposuction surgery. However, like any other medical procedure, there are risks involved. Infections may happen after any surgery and may occur after liposuction. Dr. Hsu will prescribe an antibiotic to a patient undergoing liposuction to avoid infection after the operation. Embolism may occur when fat is loosened and enters the blood through blood vessels ruptured (broken) during liposuction. Pieces of fat get trapped in the blood vessels, gather in the lungs, or travel to the brain. If you have the signs or symptoms of fat emboli after liposuction, it is important for you to seek emergency medical care at once.
During liposuction, the physician is unable to see where the canula or probe is. It is possible to puncture or damage internal organs during liposuction. When organs are damaged, surgery may be required to repair them. After liposuction, there may be a pooling of serum, the straw colored liquid from your blood, in areas where tissue has been removed. You may experience "paresthesias" which is an altered sensation at the site of the liposuction. This may either be in the form of an increased sensitivity (pain) in the area, or the loss of any feeling (numbness) in the area. If these changes in sensation persist for a long period of time (weeks or months) you should inform us immediately. In some cases, these changes in sensation may be permanent. The skin above the liposuction site may become necrotic or "die." When this happens, skin may change color and be sloughed (fall) off. Large areas of skin necrosis may become infected with bacteria or microorganisms.
During ultrasound assisted liposuction, the ultrasound probe may become very hot and can cause burns. Fat tissue, which contains a lot of liquid, is removed during liposuction. Also, because large amounts of fluids are injected during liposuction, it may result in a fluid imbalance. While you are in our clinic, surgical center or hospital, the staff will be watching you for signs of fluid imbalance. Lidocaine, a drug that numbs the skin, is frequently used as a local anesthetic during liposuction. The signs of high doses of lidocaine are lightheadedness, restlessness, drowsiness, tinnitis (a ringing in the ears), slurred speech, metallic taste in the mouth, numbness of the lips and tongue, shivering, muscle twitching and convulsions. In general, any type of anesthesia may cause complications and is always considered a risk during any surgery.
6. How can I expect my body to look over time? After pregnancy?
The results of liposuction surgery are technically permanent because fat cells have been removed. However, your body shape and contours might be affected by weight gain, aging, pregnancy, family genes and lifestyle factors. It is crucial to maintain healthy habits and a stable weight to maintain liposuction results. Following liposuction, if you continue to eat excess calories, fat will no longer be stored in the cells that have been removed, but will be stored in other body areas. There is no way to predict where your body will store new fat. What's more, Dr. Hsu will not remove all of the fat cells from your target area, so you could still increase the size of remaining fat cells in that area. The basic message: keep your weight stable for a long lasting result.