According to the data released by the Plastic Surgery Association, liposuction is on top two plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States. The procedure is in high demand all over the world as it is a safe and efficient method of getting rid of stubborn fat pockets that can accumulate in different areas of the body. Liposuction can eliminate localized adipose fat pockets from areas that are difficult to target with physical exercise and diet such as the chin, calves, knees, and ankles, but the areas most commonly treated with this procedure are the abdomen and flanks, the buttocks, upper and lower back, and the thighs.
The procedure has a long history behind it, with more than three decades of being performed. However, it is only now with the modern development of medicine and anesthesia that the procedure is safer than ever. One of the reasons why it is so popular is the lack of significant health risks and severe complications that can derive from it.
However, even a simple and safe liposuction procedure can entail certain side effects. In this article, we will discuss how liposuction is performed and what are the few common side effects that patients can experience after undergoing the procedure.
What is liposuction?
Despite the flood of information widely available online and offline about plastic surgery procedures, there are still people who wrongly believe that liposuction is a weight loss method. This is not true. If your plastic surgeon supports this idea, then it is recommended to look for another one.
Liposuction targets the layer of fat at the subcutaneous level. In other words, with lipo we can eliminate some of the adipose cells that are directly under the skin. But not all the fat in the body that is making you fat is at the subcutaneous level. There is also fat inside the stomach cavity and even surrounding your internal organs. This is what we call visceral fat, and it can’t be targeted or treated with liposuction. This fat inside the body can only be eliminated with the help of a proper eating regimen low in calories and a physical exercise routine.
Liposuction acts on the fat cells that are close to the surface of the skin. Moreover, during one session of liposuction, it is not recommended to eliminate more than six or seven liters of fat. Otherwise, a fluid imbalance can lead to shock or other severe complications. So if you think that to get to the ideal weight you need to get rid of more than six liters of fat, then you should try other methods before scheduling your liposuction procedure.
With liposuction, we can target virtually any area of the body. However, in one liposuction session it is not recommended to treat multiple areas if the surface is extended. For example, if the adipose tissue is quite thick, the plastic surgeon should concentrate only on the abdomen and the flanks and leave the thighs for another session. There are cases in which the patients want to cover a lot of surface during a lipo session despite the fact that there is a significant layer of fat. This is not a good idea and should be avoided. In the best case, the plastic surgeon will treat the areas superficially and the patient will need revision surgery later on. But when a larger surface or more areas are treated, we should also consider the comfort of the patient during the recovery period.
When liposuction is performed, the plastic surgeon will make some marks on the areas to be treated, then the patient is put under general anesthesia or given local anesthesia. For an extensive procedure, general anesthesia is recommended for the comfort of the patient as it might take longer. If tumescent liposuction is recommended, the plastic surgeon would then inject a tumescent solution into the areas. Tumescent solution contains a local anesthetic, usually lidocaine that makes the intervention less painful and also reduces the swelling after the procedure. The tumescent solution is also meant to help the plastic surgeon dislodge the fat cells more easily.
Tiny incisions will be made in the targeted areas. The plastic surgeon will use these incisions to introduce the liposuction cannula through them. The cannula is connected to a powerful medical vacuum device that will suction the fat out of the body after it is liquefied. To dislodge the fat so it can be suctioned, the plastic surgeon will perform back and forth movements.
The scars left after the procedure are not significant due to the length of the incisions; however, patients need to understand that the tissues are still damaged during the intervention and side effects can occur.
A common side effect that can be experienced after liposuction is pain or discomfort in the area treated. This means that for a few days the patient might feel soreness in the area that was liposuctioned. Pain medication will be prescribed after the procedure, so the discomfort can easily be eliminated with the help of medication.
A numbness can also be present in the area treated with liposuction. Numbness or other changes in sensation are often temporary, and this side effect should disappear within the course of a few weeks or months. There are rare cases in which the numbness is permanent after a liposuction procedure.
Swelling and bruising are other common side effects of liposuction, whatever the areas treated with the procedure might be. During the procedure, the tissues are injured with the liposuction cannula, so it is only natural for the swelling and bruising to occur. They are not serious complications and require no additional treatment. The patient just needs to give them time to disappear on their own. Tumescent liposuction is performed because it is known to reduce the post-operative swelling, and compression garments are recommended to be worn after the procedure with the aim to reduce the inflammation and improve the aesthetic results.
The results of liposuction are much better if the compression garments have been worn for the period of time the plastic surgeon recommended, so when it comes to the surgeon’s recommendations, it is not a good idea to cut corners, as it won’t speed up the recovery but can even make it longer.
The results after liposuction
The results of liposuction are not completely visible immediately after the procedure. It is more likely that the results will be observed gradually, over the course of the following three months after the procedure, exactly because of the occurrence of side effects.
A revision of the initial liposuction procedure can be performed six months after the intervention. This is usually needed when a considerable amount of fat was removed from one area and imperfections occurred.
Keep in mind that to be able to sustain the beautiful results achieved with the help of liposuction, the patient is advised to keep a stable weight and have a healthy and balanced eating regimen with plenty of physical exercise.
The results of liposuction are not permanent as it all depends on the patient and his lifestyle choices. An ulterior pregnancy or weight gain can alter the results and change the shape of the body once again.
Patients who are slightly overweight can also benefit from the advantages offered by liposuction, but the target audience for the procedure is often people with a normal weight and good skin tonus.
The results of liposuction can be unsatisfactory when the procedure is performed by a plastic surgeon with no experience or when the patient doesn’t have good skin tonus, making the skin unable to retract to the new contours of the body.
The liposuction procedure is a safe and frequently requested method to sculpt the body and get rid of unwanted fat deposits. The procedure is often performed on patients with a normal weight and an active lifestyle who are confronted with localized fat deposits that are resistant to physical exercise and diet. It is not uncommon for people to develop fat deposits, especially around the midline with aging.
Even if it is one of the safest procedures to be performed nowadays, liposuction entails certain side effects that are not severe and nothing to be worried about. Among these side effects are swelling and bruising, pain and discomfort, and numbness or changes in sensitivity in the area or areas targeted. The side effects are usually temporary and last no longer than a few days, weeks, or months. They don’t require additional treatment, aside from the pain that can be prescribed with medication by the plastic surgeon.