Large-Volume Liposuction in St. Louis

Large-volume liposuction (LVL) is exactly what it sounds like: larger amounts of fat are removed with typical liposuction techniques. Technically, LVL removes 5 liters or more of fat in a single surgery. (Think of a liter bottle of soda.)

For patients who want to have a large volume of fat removed, large-volume liposuction has the advantage of being able to complete the body contouring in one surgery rather than 2 or more smaller liposuction procedures. Another important way that LVL contributes to major body re-contouring is its use before other procedures, such as a body lift, are performed. By first removing excess fat with liposuction, better results can be achieved in a "lifting" surgery that excises loose and sagging skin.

Patients who have large-volume liposuction must accept the possibility that a later surgery to remove excess skin may be needed. A remarkable amount of skin retraction occurs after liposuction, especially in younger patients with more elastic skin. When fatty tissue beneath the skin is removed, the skin is loose at first because some of its underlying support is gone.

About 6 months after large-volume liposuction, patients know how much their skin will retract, or shrink, to fit the new contour of the underlying tissue. A small percentage of people who have large-volume liposuction and do not have sufficient skin "shrinkage" choose to have the extra skin removed surgically.

Large-volume liposuction should be performed only by surgeons who have the proper surgical skills and understanding of the possible consequences of LVL, which Dr. Boswell possesses. He has safely performed LVL procedures on scores of patients since our practice was formed in mid-2002.

Because more extensive liposuction procedures require more attentive monitoring during and after surgery, we require LVL patients to spend at least one night in the hospital after surgery. The length of the hospital stay depends on how many liters of fat are removed.

Complications are rare with liposuction, but the risks increase when more body areas are treated at the same time or the areas are larger in size. Removal of a large amount of fat and fluid requires longer operating times than typical liposuction, and LVL that lasts more than 4 hours is not unusual.

The lengthier surgery can create greater hazards for infection; delays in healing; the formation of fat clots or blood clots (which may migrate to the lungs); excessive fluid loss or overload; friction burns or other damage to the skin or nerves, or perforation injury to vital organs; and unfavorable drug reactions. To ensure your safety we take special care to limit the length of surgery.

The major concern, which requires postoperative monitoring, relates to fluid and electrolyte imbalances and blood loss. These risks will be explained in detail by plastic surgeon Dr. Boswell during the consultation process to make sure they are fully understood before surgery.