Top New York plastic surgeon Dr. Darrick Antell is board certified in plastic surgery, emphasizing aesthetic / cosmetic surgery. One of the cosmetic surgery procedures he performs is liposuction.
Liposuction, also known as suction-assisted lipectomy, is the removal of localized areas of fat which does not respond to dieting and exercise. Some areas of the body in which liposuction can be performed are the head, (chin, neck, and cheeks), arms, abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs. If you are considering liposuction, this section will give you a basic understanding of the procedure.
Suction-assisted lipectomy, also known as liposuction, fat suction, or suction lipectomy, is a technique to remove unwanted fat deposits from specific areas of the body, including the chin, neck, and cheeks, the upper arms and above the breasts, the abdomen, buttocks, hips, and thighs, and the knees, calves, and ankles. Liposuction is not a substitute for weight reduction, but a method of removing localized fat that doesn't respond to dieting and exercise.
If you're considering liposuction, this information will give you a basic understanding of the procedure-when it can help, how it's performed, and what results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions because a lot depends on the individual patient and the surgeon. Please ask your doctor about anything you don't understand.
Liposuction can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won't necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Antell.
The best candidates for liposuction are of relatively normal weight but have pockets of excess fat in particular areas. You should be physically healthy, psychologically stable, and realistic in your expectations. Most important, having firm, elastic skin will result in a better final contour. (Hanging skin won't reshape to your body's new contours, and may require an additional procedure to surgically remove the excess skin. This procedure will leave visible scars.)
Suction lipectomy is not recommended if you've had recent surgery on the spot to be sculpted, if you have poor blood circulation in that area, or if you have heart or lung disease. You should also understand that liposuction by itself will not improve the dimpled skin known as cellulite, though some plastic surgeons offer other techniques that may improve this condition.
Suction-assisted lipectomy is normally safe, as long as patients are carefully selected, the operating facility is properly equipped, and the physician is adequately trained in body contouring as well as general surgery.
Nevertheless, in rare instances, the procedure may cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or very extensive areas are suctioned at one time. Other infrequent, but possible, complications include fluid accumulation (which must be drained) and injury to the skin. Although serious complications are infrequent, infection or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness. You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon who has been granted privileges to perform liposuction at an accredited hospital, and by closely following his or her advice.
The scars from liposuction are small and strategically placed to be hidden from view, even in a bikini. However, other cosmetic problems may occur, even if the surgeon is very skilled. They may include rippling or bagginess of the skin over the treated area, and pigmentation changes (such as brown spots) that may become worse if exposed to the sun. Asymmetry (uneven contour or shape) sometimes requires a second procedure.
In your initial consultation, the surgeon will evaluate your health, determine where your fat deposits lie, and carefully assess your skin tone. Your doctor should explain any alternative body-contouring methods that may be appropriate, such as abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, and discuss the options or the combination of procedures that would be best for you.
Be frank in discussing your expectations with Dr. Antell. He will be equally frank with you, describing the procedure in detail and explaining its risks and limitations. Dr. Antell will also explain the anesthesia he will use, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.
During this consultation, be sure to tell Dr. Antell about any large weight losses or gains you've had at any time. You should also inform him if you smoke, and if you're taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.
Don't hesitate to ask Dr. Antell any questions you may have, especially those regarding your expectations and concerns about the results.
Dr. Antell will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets, and certain medications. If you develop a cold or an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, your procedure will have to be postponed.
While you're making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and, if needed, to help you out for a day or two.
Suction-assisted lipectomy may be performed in a surgeon's office-based facility, an outpatient surgery center, or a hospital. It's usually done on an outpatient basis.
If your procedure is not too extensive—that is, the amount of fat and fluid removed does not exceed an amount your doctor will define based on your health, body size, and surgical procedure — liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia, which numbs the area, combined with a sedative to make you drowsy. You'll be awake but relaxed, and will feel minimal discomfort. Some surgeons may instead use an epidural block, similar to the anesthesia used in childbirth
If your doctor plans to suction a large area, or to treat several sites, you'll probably have deeper anesthesia. In that case, you'll sleep through the operation.
Suction-assisted lipectomy usually takes an hour or two, but the time required may vary considerably — from thirty minutes to several hours, depending on the area and amount being suctioned.
To begin the procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision, just large enough to allow the insertion of a hollow tube called a cannula. The opposite end of the cannula is attached to a machine that creates a strong vacuum. The surgeon manipulates the cannula deep within the fat layers under the skin, breaking up the fat and suctioning it out. Sometimes additional incisions are needed to remove all areas of fat.
If you've had local anesthesia, you'll feel some vibration and friction during the procedure. You may also feel a stinging sensation as the cannula moves closer to the muscle.
A snug elastic dressing, girdle, or body stocking must be worn over the treated area to control swelling and to help your skin shrink to fit your new contour. You may need to wear this garment continuously for two to three weeks depending on Dr. Antell's instructions.
It's not unusual to feel depressed in the days or weeks following surgery. Try to keep in mind that this is normal and will subside as you begin to look and feel better.
Healing is a gradual process. Dr. Antell will probably tell you to start walking around as soon as possible (to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs), but to avoid more strenuous activity for two weeks. You can expect to be back at work between two days and two weeks after your surgery. When you resume activity depends on the extent of your procedure, how you feel and what your doctor recommends.
While most of the swelling and discoloration will be gone quickly after surgery, some swelling can remain for many weeks. We will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress and to see if any additional procedures are needed.
Suction-assisted lipectomy is a highly effective technique for giving you a new body contour. The results are long-lasting, providing you eat sensibly and exercise regularly. If you do gain weight, you'll gain it more uniformly throughout your body, not just in the former "bulges."
Most patients are very satisfied with the results of their liposuction — they feel more comfortable in a wide variety of clothes, and more at ease with their bodies. As long as your expectations are realistic, you should be happy with your new shape.
Dr. Darrick E. Antell and his staff will be happy to discuss Liposuction (Lipoplasty) with you. Please call for a private consultation or schedule an appointment online at our office.