What is Liposuction?
BodyAesthetic Plastic Surgery & Skin Care Center offers St. Louis plastic surgery patients liposuction to achieve a smoother, sleeker figure. In the paragraphs below, the liposuction procedure is described.
Liposuction sculpts the body by removing unwanted deposits of fat and can be done on nearly any area of the body, including the abdomen, hips, flanks, back, buttocks, thighs, knees, ankles, upper arms, chin, cheeks and neck. It is the most popular plastic surgery procedure in the U.S., performed on nearly half a million Americans in 2004. Increasingly requested by both men and women, liposuction is ideal for getting rid of localized areas of fat that will not go away no matter what you do.
During the past decade, liposuction (also known as "lipoplasty" or "suction lipectomy") has benefited from several new refinements and techniques that produce more precise results and quicker recovery times. Although liposuction is not a substitute for losing weight, it can remove stubborn areas of fat that don’t respond to traditional dieting or exercise.
Am I a Candidate for Liposuction in St. Louis?
The best candidates for liposuction are people of normal weight with firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in certain areas. They should be physically healthy, psychologically stable and have realistic expectations. Although age is not a major consideration, older patients tend to have skin that is less elastic and therefore may not get the same results as a younger patient with tighter skin.
Liposuction carries greater risk for individuals with medical problems such as diabetes, obesity, significant heart or lung disease, poor blood circulation, tobacco use, or those who have recently had surgery near the area to be contoured. Your surgeon will determine whether special precautions need to be taken for liposuction to be safe for you.
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie, assess the condition of your skin, and explain the body contouring method most appropriate for you. Be honest in discussing your expectations with your surgeon, and he will be equally frank when explaining the risks and limitations of treatment.
Liposuction is performed through small incisions, less than a half-inch in length, that are made in an inconspicuous location near the area to be treated. The first step is to inject (infuse) a specified amount of fluids that is roughly equal to the amount of fat to be removed. This fluid consists of saline (salt-water) solution that contains epinephrine. The saline plumps up the fatty tissue, and the epinephrine constricts the blood vessels to minimize bleeding.
A slim hollow tube, called a cannula, is inserted through the incision and moved back and forth through the tissue to break up the fat cells, which are then suctioned out, along with the infused fluids. If multiple body areas are treated, your surgeon moves from one area to the next repeating the steps of infusing fluids, breaking up the fatty tissue, and sucking it out.
The preceding paragraph briefly describes what is called suction-assisted lipoplasty (SAL), which is the standard type of liposuction used in St. Louis by Dr. Boswell. In certain situations, he also may use ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL), which has a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. This ultrasonic energy explodes the walls of fat cells to liquefy the fat, which is then suctioned out. UAL improves the effectiveness of liposuction in fibrous areas of the body, such as the upper back or the male abdomen, and is also effective for patients undergoing a second liposuction in an area previously treated.
In general, UAL takes longer to perform than SAL. The time required to perform liposuction varies considerably, depending on the number and sizes of areas being treated. As Dr. Boswell works, he basically sculpts the body contour with differently-sized cannulas and pays special attention to making sure both sides of the body are as symmetrical as possible.
Because fluids are infused into the tissues and then suctioned out with the fat, careful monitoring of patients’ fluid levels is essential to make sure their fluid balance remains within safe limits. Being overloaded with fluids or having fluid volume depleted can both lead to serious complications if fluids are not managed properly. Most patients need to receive intravenous fluids during and immediately after surgery.
The scars from liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view. However, imperfections in the final appearance are not uncommon after lipoplasty. The skin surface may be irregular or contain dented areas, symmetry may not be perfect, or the skin may not contract sufficiently to conform to the new body contour, especially in older patients. Numbness or pigmentation changes in treated areas also can occur. Sometimes, additional surgery is recommended to refine results.
What To Expect After Liposuction
Some swelling and bruising will follow liposuction, and small amounts of fluids may drain from the small incisions. To help control swelling and fluid collection, patients who have liposuction of the legs are usually fitted with a snug elastic garment to wear over the treated area for a few weeks.
Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery. Even though the newer techniques are believed to reduce postoperative discomfort, some pain, burning, swelling, bleeding, and temporary numbness should be expected. Pain can be controlled with medications prescribed by your surgeon, but you may still feel stiff and sore for a few days.
Some patients may feel a bit anxious or depressed in the days or weeks immediately following surgery because they are uncomfortable and unable to see what they will ultimately look like. However, this feeling subsides as they begin to look and feel better.
Healing is a gradual process. You should start walking around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. Although you may be able to return to work within a few days of surgery, you will still be swollen and sore for a week or more. Your return to work likely depends on how many areas of the body are treated. If you received stitches to close the small incisions, they will be removed 7 to 10 days after surgery.
Strenuous activity should be avoided for about a month as your body continues to heal. Although your new body contour will probably not be visible at first, most of the bruising and swelling usually disappear within 3 weeks and a noticeable change should be apparent within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery as swelling continues to subside. However, your final body contour may not emerge for up to 6 months or more.
Those who have realistic expectations before surgery are very pleased with the results of liposuction. They feel more comfortable in a wider variety of clothing and more at ease with their body contour. Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help maintain this new shape.
Length Of Surgery
1 to 3 hours or more, depending on the number of areas treated
Usually outpatient. Extensive procedures may require short inpatient stay. It depends on the number of liters of fat removed; for example, if more than 5 liters are removed, you’ll spend 1 night in the hospital.
The Side Effects
Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, burning sensation.
Asymmetry. Rippling or bagginess of skin. Pigmentation changes. Skin injury. Fluid retention. Excessive fluid loss leading to shock. Infection. UAL: thermal burn injury caused by heat from the ultrasound device
Back to work: 1 to 2 weeks.
More strenuous activity: 2 to 4 weeks.
Full recovery from swelling and bruising: 1 to 6 months or more.
Duration of Results
Permanent unless you gain weight
Schedule a Consultation for Liposuction in St. Louis
Patients interested in liposuction surgery can visit our facility in St. Louis to speak with our surgeons about the benefits of this procedure and get answers to any questions. Schedule an in-person consultation today!