Procedure: Improve body shape by removing exercise-resistant fat deposits with a tube and vacuum device. Can be performed using the tumescent technique, in which targeted fat cells are infused with saline containing solution with a local anesthetic before liposuction to reduce post-operative bruising and swelling. Common locations for liposuction include chin, cheeks, neck, upper arms, above breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, ankles. For larger volumes of fat or for fibrous body areas, ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty (UAL) may be used. UAL is a new technique in which a ultrasound probe is inserted beneath the skin to “liquify” the fat before it is suctioned. PAL (Power Assisted Liposuction) is a method of decreasing fatty tissues by using a fast, short, reciprocating stroke of a suction cannula that allows the Plastic surgeon to work more as a gentle sculptor, compared to other methods. It allows the surgeon more control, and in return, more predictable results.
Length:1 to 2 hours or more. UAL: 20-40 percent longer than traditional liposuction.
Anesthesia: Local, epidural, or general.
In/Outpatient: Usually outpatient. Extensive procedures may require short inpatient stay.
Side Effects: Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, burning sensation. Tumescent: Temporary fluid drainage from incision sites. UAL: Larger incisions for cannula.
Recovery: 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. Use of tumescent technique or UAL may decrease post-operative bruising and swelling.
Important considerations when learning about emerging (new) technology or products in plastic surgery:
When studying emerging technology, it is important to consider peer reviewed scientific studies to answer questions of efficiency and safety. In some circumstances, new technology is touted as the “magic wand” for a particular procedure, and scientific studies sometimes suggest otherwise. Scientific studies should be done in a manner where the persons acting as researchers have no conflict of interest and no other motive for a particular finding other than seeking the honest truth. Any person with a conflict, such as ownership in company that profits from the sale of an emerging technology, could bias the final findings of a study. Many scientific publications, such as the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, have very strict rules regarding conflict of interest which gives studies published in that journal high credibility. While peer reviewed journals can have studies that draw different conclusions, information in these peer-reviewed journals is generally considered to be a primary source for accurate unbiased information.
The liposuction (also called lipoplasty) procedure is the most popular cosmetic procedure in the United States. Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz, a French surgeon, developed the modern liposuction procedure in the late 1970’s which is still used today. Liposuction improves the natural contours of men and women resulting in a more attractive appearance.
Liposuction is a procedure that removes fat in problem areas that are resistant to diet and exercise. Diet and exercise resistant areas of fat are very difficult to improve without surgical intervention and liposuction is a successful solution for most patients. Liposuction is performed millions of times a year and is thought to be a safe and effective treatment for localized fat deposits.
Areas of the body that are commonly treated with liposuction include the abdomen, the flanks, the inner and outer thighs, the arms, and the neck. Many other areas are treated with liposuction as well including the back, the legs, the knees, and the buttocks. Both men and women get liposuction to improve specific areas of the body with the abdomen being the most commonly treated area. Areas of the body that are treated with liposuction are more resistant to fat accumulation because the fat cells that store the fat have been removed.
Liposuction works by placing a negative pressure on a cannula (tube) which removes fat while causing very little injury to important structures such as nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The deep layer of fat is (virtually) completely removed which can dramatically change the body contour, but leaves the superficial layer of fat just under the skin which gives beautiful curves. The brilliance of liposuction is that it removes the unwanted fat deposits but leaves the structures that are desirable to be left in place. Another brilliant aspect of liposuction is that it is done through a tiny incision so that the scar is very inconspicuous after surgery.
There are many types of liposuction devices on the market and the common element to all of them is the vacuum machine. This creates a negative pressure on the cannula (tube) which in turn removes the fat deposits. The end instrument that touches the patient has many designs and methods and includes (but is not limited to) conventional cannula (tube only), ultrasonic, laser, and power assisted liposuction. Some types of liposuction devices are better in some areas than others, and many surgeons will use several different types of technology for different situations and areas which comes with surgical experience.
Patient recovery after liposuction is very easy for most patients. Daily living activity can be achieved the day after surgery in almost all patients and many patients return to work the day after surgery. In healthy patients the typical bruising and swelling that occurs with liposuction resolves very quickly. Many patients that get liposuction report an increase in confidence and self esteem as a result of their new improved shape. Dr. Herring has treated thousands of patients and has performed liposuction in North Carolina over the past twenty five years.