Mr Neil Toft

Consultant Plastic Surgeon

BSc MBChB MD FRCS (Plast)

 

0845 094 5657

 

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LIPOSUCTION INFORMATION

General Background

Liposuction is the process where fat is sucked out of the body in order to improve body contour. It is not designed to offer weight loss. The term "liposculpture" is exactly the same as liposuction, and has only been invented as a marketing tool by some companies!
Liposuction is performed under general anaesthetic, and is a straight forward operation, the length of which is determined by how much fat needs to be removed and how many sites of the body are being dealt with. The commonest sites treated are the abdomen, hips and flanks, and inner thighs. Other sites include buttocks, arms and knees.
Liposuction simply removes the fat between the skin and the underlying structures. Patients with young tight skin tend to get the best results as their skin is able to take up the slack and tighten itself over a number of weeks. More mature skin, with loss of its elasticity, gives more modest results due to its age, although older patients can do very well with liposuction.
Many patients ask whether the liposuction is permanent or whether the removed fat will regrow. The process of liposuction removes the fat cells, with the fat tissue on their inside. After the operation not all the cells are removed, and the remaining ones in theory can re-accumulate fat. Therefore, if a patient has had liposuction, then eats to excess with no exercise, the fat can re-accumualte but often at a lesser amounts than before. The best way of thinking about liposuction is that it is part of a calorie-controlled diet.

Before the operation

There is nothing special or complicated to be done by the patient. If you are on the oral contraceptive pill you should continue to keep taking it, and inform the surgeon or anaesthetist in the hospital. If you smoke it would be a good ideal to try to stop for a month before and two weeks after as this will improve wound healing and your post-operative recovery. It would be advisable to stop any herbal medicines and avoid aspirin or ibuprofen-like drugs for 2 weeks before the operation.

The operation itself

You will come into the hospital on the morning of surgery. The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and takes between one and two hours. When you wake up you will have a tight dressing over the treated area or be wearing a custom fitted pressure garment.

Post-operative follow-up and after care.

You are advised to stay in hospital overnight. All being well, you will be discharged the following day with antibiotics and painkillers. It is import to leave the dressing alone and wear the pressure garment 24 hours a day. You may notice that the area being treated is swollen. This is normal and is related to fluid under the skin. The extra fluid usually improves by 48hours and is gone by 10 days. It is important to remember that the final result of the liposuction is best viewed at 3 months after the surgery. At between 5 and 7 days you will be seen in the clinic and the dressings removed and the wounds checked.
It is important to rest and take it very easy for at least 2 weeks after the operation. You wound be advised to take 10 days to 2 weeks off work and it is essential to avoid all strenuous activity during this period. The pressure garment needs to be worn day and night for a month to give the best result possible, and failure to wear it without doubt diminishes the final appearance. Vigorous sport such as jogging or the gym should be avoided for 6 weeks.
A check up clinic appointment at 3 months after the surgery will be arranged for you.


Complications

All operations carry a risk of complications, although in liposuction these are fortunately low. There will be small scars made where the liposuction cannula is inserted under the skin, however they often become completely unnoticeable with time. Occasionally, scars may be red and lumpy for a few months but they usually settle down by themselves without any treatment.
The risk of infection and significant bleeding are between 1 and 2 % and precautions are taken to avoid this with antibiotics and careful operating. Many patients will notice that there is bruising of the affected area, the amount of which varies between individuals. Most bruising resolves spontaneously at 2 weeks.
There is a very small risk of damaging structures under the skin with the liposuction cannula, for example, the bowel during abdominal liposuction. This is an extremely rare event, and great care is taken at the time of surgery to avoid this, by using careful technique.
Unevenness or lumpy areas can be a problem and are most often related to failure of the patient to wear the garment as prescribed. Any minor irregularities that persist beyond 6 months may easily addressed by further liposuction of fat grafting.

Summary

Liposuction is a simple surgical procedure to improve body shape involving one overnight stay in hospital, and about 10 days off work. The complication rate is extremely low and many patients are very happy with the final result.


Operation Time 1 - 2 hours
Anaesthetic General
Nights in hospital 1
Time off work 7 - 10 days
Return to normality/exercise 4 weeks