Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that uses a thin, hollow tube called a cannula to remove localized areas of body fat. Fat is loosened with the cannula and then removed through a vacuum. Treated areas look slimmer and more contoured, and in better overall proportion to the rest of the body. However, liposuction is not a method for losing weight, and is not effective in eliminating cellulite, or tightening loose and sagging skin.
The ideal candidate for liposuction is in good overall health with one or more areas of fat that does not respond to diet or exercise. The best liposuction results are obtained when the skin still has enough elasticity to achieve a smooth contour after fat removal. For some older patients where the skin is relatively inelastic, liposuction may need to be combined in conjunction with other skin tightening procedures, such as an abdominoplasty, for an optimal result.
The Liposuction Procedure
Dr. Yau performs liposuction as an outpatient procedure in the hospital or a private surgical facility. A solution made up of saline solution, local anesthetic and epinephrine (a blood-vessel constrictor) is injected into the area being treated. The solution causes the targeted tissues to swell and become firm, which makes it easier to remove fat. The advantages to this technique are that the anesthetic decreases post-operative discomfort and blood loss is minimized because the epinephrine constricts blood vessels. The cannula is inserted through extremely small incisions and moved back and forth to loosen up the fat. The excess fat is then suctioned out using a vacuum attached to the cannula.
Recovery From Liposuction
After liposuction, patients experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort in the treated area. Compression garments are worn post-operatively to help reduce these symptoms as the area heals. Patients can return to work and other non-strenuous activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually after a few days. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for several weeks. Results of the liposuction procedure may not be apparent until swelling and bruising begin to subside, which is around one week; swelling typically subsides completely within a few months. Scars are usually imperceptible, because the incisions used for the cannula are so small. The results of liposuction are long-lasting, unless a substantial amount of weight is gained afterwards.