Liposuction is a procedure that removes excess fat through a suctioning process. Liposuction is not a substitute for weight loss, but it is a way of changing the body's shape and contour. Liposuction can be used to remove excess fat that does not respond to exercise and dieting, including fat around the thighs, stomach, upper arms, buttocks or the waistline.

Some of the different liposuction techniques include:

  • Tumescent technique: The tumescent technique involves the injection of a large quantity of a medical solution into a fatty area. The medical solution is a combination of drugs that numb the area, as well as shrink the capillaries and prevent blood loss. After the injection, a small incision is made into the skin and a tube connected to a vacuum is inserted into the fatty mass. The fat is then suctioned out.
  • Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty: In the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty, a special tube that produces ultrasound energy is used. This ultrasound energy breaks down the walls of the fat cells turning them to liquid. The fat is then suctioned out.
  • Laser-assisted lipoplasty: Lasers help with liposuction by heating fat to make removal more efficient,with less bruising and faster healing.
Each liposuction procedure varies, but generally, liposuction surgeries follow the same process. Fat can generally be removed without general anesthesia as local anesthesia is infused to large areas prior to the procedure. Anesthesia options may include:
  • General anesthesia
  • Local anesthesia, combined with intravenous sedation (allows the patient to remain awake but relaxed)

Possible complications associated with liposuction techniques may include, but are not limited to: 

  • Injury to the skin or deeper tissues.
  • Irregular skin surface: Changes in the skin surface can occur after liposuction, giving it an asymmetric or baggy look. There can also be changes in the skin pigmentation and areas that may become numb.
  • Greater risks if large areas are treated: The risk for infection, the formation of blood clots or fat clots, excessive fluid loss, and damage to the skin, nerves, or vital organs is greater when large areas are treated.
  • Lidocaine toxicity or fluid in the lungs: If the lidocaine content is too high, it may cause lidocaine toxicity. If too much fluid is injected, it may cause fluid buildup in the lungs.

Candidates for liposuction

Generally, people of normal weight who have localized areas of protruding fat achieve the most desired results, however, persons who are slightly overweight can also benefit from liposuction. The best candidates for liposuction include:
  • Normal-weight (or slightly-overweight) people
  • People with firm, elastic skin
  • People who have pockets of excess fat in certain areas
  • Physically healthy and psychologically stable people
  • People with realistic expectations

Age is not a major factor, although older individuals with diminished skin elasticity may not have the same results as individuals with tighter skin.

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