Home Therapies Liposuction (liposuction): process and risks

Liposuction (liposuction): process and risks

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 439 views

Liposuction is the surgical removal of fatty tissue. Cosmetic reasons often play a role. Read everything about liposuction here, when it is performed, what risks it entails and what you need to consider after the procedure.

What is liposuction?

During liposuction, excess fat is sucked out using a cannula. It has been used since the 1970s – with up to 200,000 operations a year in Germany, it is now one of the most common cosmetic operations. There are different techniques of liposuction:

  • Moist liposuction/tumescent liposuction: Liposuction after lavage with a mixture of local anesthetic drugs, adrenaline and bicarbonate . This technique is the method of choice for liposuction.
  • Dry liposuction: liposuction without prior rinsing

Ultrasound treatments soften the fatty tissue and facilitate subsequent suction. These include “Power Assisted Liposuction” (PAL), “Ultrasound-Assisted Aspiration Lipectomy” (UAL) and “Vibration-Assisted Liposuction” (VAL).

In theory, every part of the body offers the possibility of liposuction. However, thighs and abdomen are the most common areas.

When is liposuction performed?

Liposuction is suitable for removing cosmetically disturbing fat pads. Legs, hips, or thighs (“saddlebags”) are most commonly treated. Liposuction can be used:

  • in the case of pathological, non-nutrition-related proliferation of fat tissue (e.g. lipoedema , tumor or hormone-related)
  • in preparation for plastic surgery (“flap mobilization”)
  • for fat harvesting in autologous fat transplantation (e.g. scar correction)

Liposuction should not be performed if you have the following conditions:

An often existing orange peel skin ( cellulite ) cannot usually be reduced by liposuction. The formation of dents in the skin can even worsen after an operation.

Liposuction for overweight

Liposuction alone is not suitable for weight loss and is not a substitute for diet or exercise. It primarily has cosmetic effects.

There is now evidence that the removed fat can be recreated in excess. The mechanism behind this is unclear. Presumably, the hormonal signals that continue to exist due to the previous excess weight ensure that fat builds up again. The best way to change this is to change your diet and increase your physical activity!

What do you do with a liposuction?

Take your time when choosing an experienced doctor. These are often plastic surgeons or dermatologists. For example, read testimonials on the Internet or ask those affected. Discuss the exact extent of the liposuction with your doctor. Express your wishes and ideas clearly, only then can he assess whether this goal can realistically be achieved.

As with all other plastic surgical procedures, smoking and taking blood-thinning medication should be avoided two weeks before liposuction.

Before the operation, the doctor will use a pen to mark the appropriate areas for liposuction (thighs, abdomen, etc.) on your skin. During liposuction, a cannula is then inserted into the fatty tissue through a small incision in the skin. Rinsing liquid is then injected in a ratio of 1:1 to the extracted fat.

While the anesthetic contained in the rinse is working, the bicarbonate causes the fat cells to burst open, making suctioning easier. The adrenaline reduces blood loss. After an exposure time of about an hour, fat and liquid are sucked out. In total, no more than four liters of fat should be extracted.

Ask the doctor treating you whether an anesthetist will accompany the operation, who can intervene quickly in the event of complications – especially if you have the liposuction performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure takes between 20 minutes and two hours.

What are the risks of liposuction?

The likelihood of complications depends, among other things, on the amount of fat tissue removed. For example, local anesthetic and adrenaline can impair the functioning of the cardiovascular system. Injuries to abdominal organs and blood vessels can lead to infection and embolism. The number of deaths in the USA is about 1 in 5000 interventions, for Germany there are no clear data. Research has shown that fatalities often occurred due to the following errors:

  • poor hygiene with subsequent infections
  • excessive amounts of fat removed (more than 4000 ml in one operation)
  • Poor management of complications (insufficient monitoring during and after surgery)

Therefore, before the procedure, make sure

  • that the surgeon only sucks out the desired amount of fat (since the surgeons are often reimbursed depending on the amount of fat sucked out)
  • that you have the procedure performed in a practice or clinic where you will be monitored 24 hours after the procedure.

Liposuction can also lead to scarring, bleeding, bruising, increased darkening of the skin (hyperpigmentation), nerve injuries and wound healing disorders. Up to 20 percent of the procedures result in cosmetically unsatisfactory results (eg asymmetrical skin level with a “cobblestone”-like appearance).

What do I have to consider after liposuction?

A compression bandage or a tight panty girdle is put on while the patient is still on the operating table . This allows the skin to contract better after the procedure. In addition, the bandage prevents the cavities created during liposuction from filling with tissue fluid or other visible after-effects.

You should be monitored 24 hours after the operation so that you can intervene quickly in an emergency. Bleeding after surgery may not be immediately obvious. Signs may include dizziness , weakness, nausea, sweating or rapid heartbeat , especially when you sit up. See a doctor immediately if you notice these symptoms after liposuction.

Do not drive immediately after the operation. You should avoid full baths for a few weeks. Physical exertion and sporting activities should also be suspended for about four weeks, especially in the case of major surgery.

After one to two weeks, the doctor will carry out the first check and remove the stitches. Another cosmetic check follows after three to four months, when the greatest possible skin shrinkage has occurred. It can take four to six months for the final result to be visible.

Liposuction always carries a risk. If you are treated by a recognized specialist, liposuction can lead to cosmetically good results!

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