The Skinny on Liposuction
How Is It Done?Liposuction is the surgical vacuuming of fat from beneath the surface of the skin. A special fat extractor (a thin hollow stainless steel tube) known as a cannula is inserted into the fatty areas between the skin and muscle through small incisions in the skin. The cannula creates tiny tunnels, breaks up the fat cells, and loosens them so they can be removed by a high pressure vacuum attached to the end of the cannula. Examples of liposuction techniques include:
- Tumescent liposuction—The tumescent technique, involves injection of large volumes of salt water containing lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and small amounts of adrenaline (a naturally occurring hormone that shrinks blood vessels) prior to the removal of fat. This numbs the tissues and shrinks the blood vessels, thereby eliminating pain and reducing bleeding, bruising, and swelling.
- Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty—use of ultrasound energy provided via a probe under the skin to liquefy fat
Satisfied CustomersLiposuction is one of the most commonly performed surgical cosmetic procedures done in the country. Liposuction is a good method of spot reduction, but is not an effective method of weight loss.Kellie, a 25-year-old salon owner from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, says, "I had 800 CCs (cubic centimeters) removed from my hips and outer thighs. My clothes fit better now and people keep asking, 'Are you losing weight?'"Immediately following the surgery, Kellie says she experienced a burning sensation in her legs, along with some swelling, soreness, bruising, and small scars that are hardly noticeable today. The worst part of liposuction, says Kellie, was the pain, which, she adds, was not bad enough to dissuade her from doing it again. She also did not like wearing the compression garment, which is a fancy girdle that is commonly worn for a few weeks afterwards to help reduce the swelling and to shrink the skin. Four weeks after the surgery, her pants size had shrunk from a size 10 to a 6.Kim of Kinston, North Carolina had a similarly successful outcome. At 35 years old, she had liposuction on her thighs, stomach, and waist."I had soft, fatty thighs and no shape in the waist," says Kim. She says the results were even better than she expected, although she did take medicine to manage the pain. "The liposuction made a world of difference in how I looked, moved, wore my clothes—and in my self-esteem," she adds.