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What is Liposuction and How Is It Done?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure that uses a suction device to remove fat cells from selected areas of your body. Liposuction is “targeted” so that particular areas of fat or fat deposits can be removed and your body is contoured to retain a sleeker but natural appearance. Liposuction should be performed by a board certified plastic surgeon.
Some women and men seek liposuction because they retain fat in certain areas that are unresponsive to weight loss and/or exercise. This can be due to various causes, but is more often related to genetics and/or the aging process.
There are various types of liposuction available, but they all work on the same principle of fat removal by suction. First, a solution of “tumescent” (a combination of normal saline, epinephrine to minimize blood loss, and lidocaine to numb the area) is pumped into the area. The fat is then removed by high-powered suction.
After the removal of the fat cells, you will wear compression garments to maximize the retraction of the skin around the newly contoured area.
New York Liposuction Procedures
Here is a brief explanation of the types of liposuction offered at the New York Group for Plastic Surgery:
- Power-assisted liposuction (PAL): A vibrating cannula (thin, hollow tube) removes fat with suction. The gentle vibration of the cannula helps to loosen the fat and facilitate its removal.
- Aqualipo® Liposuction (Body Jet) System: A fine high-powered spray of tumescent helps to loosen fat as it is removed with high-powered suction. This technique can be less traumatizing to tissue and result in less bruising. This technique is ideal when the fat collected is to be used to enhance the breasts or buttock, a common desire of cosmetic patients. The gentle removal of fat with this system helps prevent damage to the collected fat, which gives the best results to the fat transfer.
- SmartLipo MPX™: This system relies on a laser to heat fat prior to suctioning in order to facilitate its removal. After suctioning, the laser is used to heat the skin from below (along the dermis skin layer), which encourages maximal skin retraction around the newly contoured area. Areas that really benefit from this technology are the upper arms, neck and inner thigh, where skin is usually thin and typically doesn’t retract as well as thicker skin on the back, for example.
Liposuction procedures can be done either under general anesthesia (completely asleep) or under local anesthesia with an oral sedative. This decision is based on the number of areas being worked on, the volume of fat that will be removed, and the patient’s desired comfort level during the procedure.
If you request multiple areas of liposuction and/or the surgeon anticipates that large volumes of fat will be removed, typically the procedure is performed under light sedation intravenous (or I.V.) anesthesia where you are asleep and do not remember anything—very similar to when you might get a colonoscopy or wisdom tooth extraction.
New York Liposuction Surgeons
At the New York Group for Plastic Surgery, we usually perform liposuction in our fully equipped, state-of-the-art outpatient AAAASF certified Operating Room within our offices, with the patient under light sedation given by a board certified anesthesiologist to ensure comfort and achieve optimal results. The process typically proceeds as follows:
- Your surgeon will ask you to stand while he marks you with a pen to determine exactly where the fat will be removed.
- After sedating you, your surgeon will make tiny incisions in the area where your fat is to be removed (2-3 mm in size).
- Next, the tumescent solution (a combination of normal saline, epinephrine to minimize blood loss, and lidocaine to numb the area) is pumped into the areas of desired fat removal.
- The surgeon uses a back and forth motion with a thin, hollow tube, called a cannula, to break up the fat and suction it out into a receptacle.
- The surgeon will suture (sew) up the small incisions with stitches that will either dissolve on their own in 2 weeks or need to be removed in 5 days. The incision sites will not be noticeable once you are healed.
- You will be placed in tight surgical compression garments to help encourage the skin to retract around the newly contoured area. Surgical compression garments are worn for 4-6 weeks after liposuction until the swelling resolves.
The time required to perform your procedure depends on the size and number of areas being treated and the volume of fat being removed.
How Can I Benefit from Having Liposuction?
There are many benefits to having liposuction, which include:
- Provides an alternative to more invasive plastic surgery procedures by eliminating fat from specific areas like the abdomen, thighs or chin, or enlarged male breasts (gynecomastia) without large incisions (scars).
- Balances an out-of-proportion body type, for example reducing the saddlebags on the thighs of a "pear shaped" body or reducing abdominal girth in men.
- Enhances facial surgery procedures such as face lift by removing pockets of fat from under the chin.
- Can amplify diet and exercise by contouring the stubborn areas that do not respond to these efforts.
Our New York liposuction procedures provide effective and satisfying results for the right candidate, but it is never a replacement for proper diet and regular exercise.
Liposuction is not an effective treatment for the dimpled skin that commonly forms and appears as cellulite on the thighs and buttocks. Liposuction also will not tighten skin that is overly loose and lacks significant elasticity.
If your doctor determines that liposuction is not appropriate for you, he can suggest alternatives such as body lift, tummy tuck, or face lift at one of our convenient New York Group for Plastic Surgery locations.
What is the Recovery Process after Liposuction?
After your procedure, treated areas may be swollen, bruised and sore. Soreness goes away within 48-72 hrs and bruising typically resolves in 2 weeks. You will need to wear compression garments for 4-6 weeks to minimize swelling and optimize your new body contour. Most patients are ready to return to light activity, including work, within 3 to 5 days, and you can return to exercising within 2 weeks.
Surgeons and staff at the New York Group for Plastic Surgery are here to support you after a liposuction procedure. The following instructions and guidelines will help your recovery process:
- During surgery, you will be placed in a garment to provide support and compression. Underneath the garment you will notice clear adhesive tape with gauze applied to the incision areas to help absorb some of the drainage, along with additional gauze underneath the garment.
- You may experience mild to moderate drainage from the incision sites that may leak through the dressings. This is a combination of the liposuction solution and a small amount of blood, which is why it may look red in color. You may want to put some type of towel or absorbent pad underneath you so that no drainage soils your furniture. The drainage will slowly decrease and should completely reside within a few days.
- You may shower the day after surgery. Prior to showering: Remove the garment, discard any loose gauze and leave the clear adhesive tape on. Shower, reapply gauze if necessary, and reapply the garment. It is OK if the clear adhesive tape falls off prior to your first post-op appointment.
- You may also remove the garment for laundering, as it may become soiled due to drainage. Other than laundering and showering, you must wear the garment at all times for several weeks after surgery.
- If you do not have gauze at home you may substitute it with a maxi-pad, which works nicely because the sticky side will stick to the garment.
- We want you to avoid straining or any aerobic activities. The doctor will give you clearance to increase your activity according to the progress of your recovery.
After the swelling has diminished, our New York liposuction patients enjoy a smoother, more toned body contour from their procedure. They often gain self-confidence from looking great in a wider range of clothing options, or when wearing nothing at all. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly will help you sustain your slimmer shape for many years to come.
How Long Do Liposuction Results Last?
You can expect your liposuction results to last indefinitely; however, it is up to you to help that happen. In order for your slimmed down, contoured liposuction look to last it’s important to avoid gaining extra weight — calories taken in have to go somewhere on your body! We strongly advise that you continue to exercise and follow healthy eating habits to maintain your body tone and your overall health.
How is Liposuction Used for a Fat Transfer Procedure?
A fat transfer procedure uses your own fat to fill in or enhance select areas of your body, including breasts, buttocks, face and hands. Liposuction is used to remove the fat for transfer.
The NYGPS surgeons typically use a liposuction procedure that uses water to gently remove the fat cells so they are maintained intact for transfer into the designated area of your body.
What Can I Expect at My Liposuction Consultation?
During your private appointment in one of our offices, your plastic surgeon will sit with you for a face-to-face conversation to explain how liposuction works, and answer your questions about the procedure.
Your surgeon will physically examine you to determine if liposuction is actually the most effective type of procedure to achieve your desired results, and if not, suggest other procedures that might be more suitable for you. Your surgeon will also share with you what to expect — and not to expect — from liposuction so that your anticipated outcome is realistic, and you are ultimately pleased with your results.
What Questions Should I Ask My Surgeon about Liposuction?
- Are you certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery?
- Am I a good candidate for a liposuction procedure? Why or why not?
- What should I realistically expect from a liposuction procedure in terms of my cosmetic outcome?
- Where will you perform my liposuction procedure?
- What type of liposuction procedure will you use to get the best results for me?
- What should I do before and after liposuction to achieve and maintain the best results?
- How long is my recovery expected to take and how will feel? Will I be able to care for myself?
- What are the risks and complications associated with liposuction? How would you handle them?
- Can I see before-and-after photos from other patients?
Let's Get Started
Do you want to learn more about New York liposuction procedures? Request your consultation online, or give us a call at 800-433-7410 or 914-366-6139 (Tarrytown), 845-294-2018 (Goshen) or 914-293-8700 to reach our offices at the Hudson Valley Hospital Center, Cortlandt Manor, NY. The New York Group for Plastic Surgery has served the New York area for over 27 years and you can schedule your visit with one of our plastic surgeons at our conveniently located offices in either Westchester or Orange County, New York.
The New York Group for Plastic Surgery serves patients from communities in the entire Hudson River Valley, Northern New Jersey, Eastern Pennsylvania and Western Connecticut.