Liposuction, or liposculpture, is a medical procedure designed to remove excess fat from specific parts of the body. The procedure is most commonly undertaken to target the thighs and lower abdomen.
Most patients who opt to undergo liposuction are doing so because dieting and/or exercise have not been able to achieve the desired results in the thighs or abdomen area. Successful liposuction will result in an improved definition in the body shape in the treated area and can often appear that more fat has been taken out than the amount that was actually removed. While the thighs and abdomen are the most commonly targeted areas, liposuction can also be used to remove fat from the buttocks, breasts, upper arms, and neck.
Patients who are planning to have liposuction should be of average to slightly above average weight, have good skin elasticity, and have localized fat deposits that can be removed via the procedure. Liposuction is not appropriate for achieving overall weight loss, for patients who are grossly overweight, nor is it an effective course of action to treat cellulite. Patients of all ages can undergo liposuction but results are likely to be better in younger patients with firmer skin.
Liposculpture is performed with the patient under a general anesthetic. A small incision is made and a saline solution is pumped into the targeted area to loosen the fat cells. After a few hours, the fat is then sucked out of the body. A more recent development in the procedure is laser liposuction whereby a laser is used to melt and loosen the fat cells before they are removed. Stitches may or may not be used to close the incision after the operation. The incision may be left open so that the wound can drain naturally. Usually up to around five kilograms of excess fat is removed in one procedure. Removing more than that amount runs the risk of leaving dents in the skin. Side effects and infection as a result of liposuction are not common.
Duration of stay in hospital after a liposuction procedure can vary, largely according to the amount of fat removed, however patients would spend a minimum of one night and then return to the hospital seven days later for follow up. The intervening week should be spent recovering from the bruising and numbness. Swelling can take longer to subside but patients should be able to see improvement in the shape of the treated area after a week. With newer techniques in liposuction in recent years, the recovery time and pain endured by patients have reduced considerably.
Many countries now offer excellent liposuction options with the cost of the procedure varying considerably from country to country. The procedure is also sometimes referred to as lipoplasty or suction lipectomy.