Liposuction, or suction-assisted lipectomy, is one of the most common cosmetic procedures plastic surgeons perform. There are two aspects of the anatomy that surgeons target in regard to this surgery. Some patients have entire areas they would like thinner, such as the entire abdomen, the flanks, or the thighs. This is a more diffuse and global treatment to the body. The second aspect of liposuction is to treat specific areas where a patient may be reasonably thin, but has a particular area that is bothersome since it does not match the contouring of the surrounding areas. Those interested in this procedure should note that liposuction is not a replacement for weight loss. It is most beneficial for those who have maximized their routine of diet and exercise and have remaining stubborn fat deposits in certain areas.
During a liposuction procedure, very small incisions are created in the skin. A thin tube—generally the size of a drinking straw—is inserted, and the fat is removed through suction.
Liposuction, when used appropriately, is also a great adjunct to other cosmetic operations. At times it is performed before or during skin excision procedures. This is often seen with face lift, breast lift, breast reduction, and abdominal surgeries. There are specific technical concerns for the surgeon that should be considered and these concerns are discussed during office consultations.
Since the incisions are small during this procedure, it typically leaves minimal scarring. Likewise, the recovery and downtime are usually minimal. Some of the results from liposuction are seen immediately following surgery. Patients generally have better results when their skin has good elasticity, meaning that the skin shrinks and re- contours as a result of the underlying fat being removed. The majority of results are seen within the first weeks, but even months after having surgery, some patients will experience continued improvements and re-contouring in the targeted problem areas. These results are normally permanent and long-lasting.
It is important for patients to educate themselves on the procedure they are considering and come to their consultation with all of the questions they may have. It is also essential to develop a good rapport with the surgeon and have meaningful discussions about specifically- defined goals and reasonable expectations before having this or any other procedure performed.