Liposuction was started in France during the seventies. Since 1981, it is in practice in the United States and other parts of the world. Lipolysis or Liposuction is a procedure in which the Surgeon removes fat from an area by using long or short metal tubular instruments connected to a suction machine. The suction tube which is made of stainless steel has a blunt tip with a hole on the side. The suction machine used for this purpose creates very powerful negative pressures. Lipectomy is an entirely different procedure wherein an incision is made and the fat excised.
Which are the areas in the body where liposuction can be used ?
Fat collection at the Hips, Thighs, Buttocks, Abdomen, Arms, Under the Chin, Upper Torso, etc can be reduced by this procedure.
How does it work and on whom does it work best?
Normal healthy skin has the capacity to shrink even after some fat has been sucked out from under it.
It is for this reason that younger patients are more satisfied after this procedure. After the age of 50, the capacity of the skin to shrink decreases and a portion of the skin may have to be excised to get a satisfactory contour. If there is a lot of loose skin, say after a person has lost considerable weight or after a delivery or due to old age or some other reason, a portion of the skin may have to be excised after completing the liposuction.
Will the patient put on fat in the same area after liposuction?
Adult fat cells do not have the ability to multiply. As man evolved through the ages the only organs that have retained the ability to regenerate are the liver and skin. Therefore the total number of fat cells in an adult is the same , and when one puts on weight, it is the size of the individual cell which increases and not the number. Similarly, when one loses weight, it is the size of the individual fat cells which decreases and not the number. A person undergoing liposuction will get rid of a certain number of fat cells from an area of his body permanently. It has also been found that due to some unexplained reasons, the patient continues to lose weight ( at times a great deal ) for months after the surgery.
How is the surgery done ?
The procedure is done under General Anesthesia. A small cut (incision ) about 5mm is made some distance away from the area to be suctioned and then the suction cannula is inserted. The incisions are usually made in the skin folds so as to make the scars less visible. Depending upon the areas to be suctioned or recontoured or reduced, anywhere between 600 ml to 3 liters of fat is removed in one sitting. If more fat is removed, one would require blood transfusion.
After the Surgery, snug or tight dressing will be applied for 5-8 days to promote shrinkage of the skin and to minimize the swelling. In most instances one is required to wear a support or a girdle for several weeks or months during the healing time. One may feel localised areas of hardness or firmness in the suctioned areas for 1-4 months after the surgery.
One may require pain relieving medication by mouth for one or two days after the surgery. During the healing period, numbness or discomfort could be present for a varied time. After the surgery, there will be swelling in the areas of surgery. Even though most of the swelling is gone in the first 2-3 weeks, it takes 2-4 months for all the swelling to disappear. Discoloration could last up to several weeks after the surgery.
When can one expect to be up and about after the surgery ?
Though it is adequate for the patient to stay for a couple of days in the hospital, the patient should remain within the close reach of the doctor for about 10 days, for follow up care. Even after multiple area lipolysis, one should be able to be up and about in one to two days and return to most of the normal activities in 10-14 days. How good are the results: By and large, patients are happy with the results of the surgery. Results however depend upon the expectation of the patient and the amount of fat that is suctioned from the given area. Usually, patients with good elastic skin and those who come for recontouring a particular area are very happy. Perfection and symmetry are not possible in every patient. Also, in some patients, all unwanted fat cannot be removed in certain areas in the first sitting. Lipolysis may have to be repeated on such patients, after about three months.
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