What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical technique that shapes the body by removing excess fat from the hips, thighs, abdomen, hips, buttocks, chin, neck, and other “problem” areas. During this procedure, your surgeon will use a thin tube attached to a vacuum to perform the fat removal. Then they’ll close the incision with several stitches.
Note that fat removal surgery isn’t a weight-loss alternative and doesn’t address loose skin. Instead, it provides a solution to areas of fat in specific areas that won’t go away with diet and exercise. If you want to remove large amounts of weight, you should consider bariatric procedures.
If you want to learn more about liposuction surgery—or schedule a consultation with a liposuction surgeon in the Lehigh Valley—then contact St. Luke’s Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.
Liposuction candidates include adults with the following characteristics:
- Excess fat that can’t be managed with diet and exercise (areas on the body include chin, neck, hips, abdomen, inner thighs, outer thighs, knees, ankles, and butt)
- Good overall skin tone without a large number of stretch marks
- Male breast enlargement (gynecomastia surgery)
- Within 30% of their ideal body weight
- Realistic expectations
Fat removal surgery isn’t a solution for loose, sagging or dimpled skin. It also shouldn’t be used as a replacement for diet and exercise.
Schedule a consultation with a St. Luke’s liposuction plastic surgeon in the Lehigh Valley to determine if liposuction is right for you.
Getting liposuction can positively impact your wellbeing and self-confidence. The following list includes some of the most commonly reported benefits:
- Fewer fat cells in targeted areas
- A more contoured appearance
- Treated lymphedema (chronic swelling and pain in the limbs)
- Treated gynecomastia (fat accumulation under a man’s breasts)
- Treated Lipodystrophy syndrome (fat accumulation in one part of the body but lost in another)
- Treated lipomas (benign, fatty tumors)
Fat removal surgery can give you a more toned physique and help you feel comfortable with your body.
As with all cosmetic procedures, liposuction has risks. Some of them include the following:
- Contour irregularities
- Fluid buildup
- Skin discoloration
- Fat embolism (pieces of loosened fat getting trapped in a blood vessel)
Your surgeon will review a complete list of risks before getting your consent.
Before the procedure
In the time leading up to your liposuction at St. Luke’s Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, you can take steps to make your procedure as safe as possible. These include discussing the following topics at your surgical consultation:
- Goals and expectations
- Surgical options
As part of your consultation, your surgeon will also do a complete evaluation—which may include the following items:
- Ordering lab work
- Taking “before” photos for comparison
- Assessing medical conditions, allergies, and medical limitations
- Reviewing medications, supplements, alcohol, tobacco, or drug use
A week before the procedure, you can prepare at home in the following ways:
- Filling outstanding prescriptions
- Purchasing any medical supplies as needed
- Coordinating transportation and meals as needed
- Staying hydrated
You should arrive early on the day of your procedure to avoid travel delays.
During the procedure
With tumescent liposuction, your surgeon will inject a sterile solution comprised of the following:
- Salt water (aids in fat removal)
- Lidocaine (an anesthetic for pain)
- Epinephrine (constricts blood vessels)
Once the area swells and stiffens, your surgeon will insert a thin tube to suction fat and fluid from your body. Tumescent liposuction is the most common type of liposuction surgery.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL)With PAL, your surgeon will insert a cannula that pulls out fat cells using vibrations. This rapid, back-and-forth motion may result in less pain and swelling, giving your surgeon more precise control over fat removal. This type of liposuction is ideal for large amounts of fat or if you’ve had liposuction previously.
After the procedure
You won’t see your final results immediately because swelling typically takes several weeks to go down. You’ll have compression garments and drainage tubes to aid in this process. Additionally, you may notice contouring irregularities as your remaining fat settles.
After your surgery, it’s essential to maintain a stable weight using diet and exercise. If you gain weight, it may change your fat distribution–negatively impacting your fat removal. Though your skin may lose firmness with age, liposuction is typically long-lasting.
Your St. Luke’s liposuction surgeon will customize your procedure based on your desired treatment results. The typical recovery milestones include the following:
- One to three days after surgery: You may experience soreness, swelling, and bruising in treated areas. However, this can be managed with either prescription or over-the-counter pain medications. You’ll also have compression garments to reduce swelling and promote healing.
- One to two weeks after surgery: Your discomfort and swelling will peak during the first week, so be sure to rest. If you have a sedentary job, you can return to work after several days—but more strenuous jobs may require a more extended recovery period. You may return to some daily activities and light exercise.
- Three to five weeks after surgery: You should be able to resume normal daily activities, including exercise. Additionally, your swelling should have decreased enough to see noticeable results.
- Six weeks after surgery: Your swelling should be almost gone, so you won’t need to wear your compression garment. Though you may still have bruising, it should be minimal.
- Three months after surgery: Your swelling and bruising should be gone entirely—so you’ll be able to see your final results.