How Is the Liposuction Procedure Done?
Depending on the type of liposuction you are undergoing, the procedure may be performed as an outpatient procedure at the doctor’s office or surgery center, or if large amounts of fat are being removed, the procedure will be done in a hospital and may require an overnight stay.
Before the procedure begins, you will be given anesthesia. Again, depending on the degree of fat being removed and the type of liposuction being performed, anesthesia varies and may only be locally applied or it may require a general application in which case the surgery will be done while you are sleeping.
Once the anesthesia has taken effect, the liposuction procedure is performed using a suction device attached to a small, stainless steel instrument called a cannula. Through small incisions, the cannula is inserted into fatty areas between skin and muscle where it removes excess fat either using a suction pump or a large syringe. This results in a smoother, improved body contour. The length of the procedure will vary with the amount of fat needing removed.
Types of Liposuction procedure
Though the basics of liposuction described above remain the same, there are a couple of different techniques that can be used during liposuction.
- Tumescent liposuction. During this technique, the surgeon will inject a solution is injected into your fatty areas before the fat is removed. It is made up of a saline solution, a mild painkiller and epinephrine, a drug that contracts your blood vessels. The solution not only helps the surgeon removed the fat more easily but it helps reduce blood loss and provides pain relief during and after surgery.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction. During ultrasound-assisted liposuction, ultrasonic energy is used to liquefy the fat, after which it is removed from the body.
As with any major surgery, liposuction carries risks, such as bleeding and a reaction to anesthesia. Possible complications specific to liposuction include:
- Contour irregularities. Your skin might appear bumpy, wavy or withered due to uneven fat removal, poor skin elasticity and unusual healing. These changes might be permanent. Damage beneath the skin from the thin tube (cannula) that’s used during liposuction might give the skin a permanent spotted appearance.
- Fluid accumulation. Temporary pockets of fluid (seromas) can form under the skin. This fluid might need to be drained with a needle.
- Numbness. You might feel temporary or permanent numbness in the affected area. Temporary nerve irritation also is possible.
- Infection. Skin infections are rare but possible. A severe skin infection might be life-threatening.
- Internal puncture. Rarely, a cannula that penetrates too deeply might puncture an internal organ. This might require emergency surgical repair.
- Fat embolism. Pieces of loosened fat might break away and become trapped in a blood vessel and gather in the lungs or travel to the brain. A fat embolism is a medical emergency.
- Kidney and heart problems. Shifts in fluid levels as fluids are being injected and suctioned out can cause potentially life-threatening kidney and heart problems.
The risk of complications increases if the surgeon is working on larger surfaces of your body or doing multiple procedures during the same operation. Talk to your surgeon about how these risks apply to you.