An increasing number of people nowadays struggle with excess body fat. When regular methods, such as exercise and a healthy diet, fail to offer the desired results, liposuction is considered as an option towards achieving the desired body shape.
Liposuction (also known as lumpectomy, lipo, or lipoplasty) is a type of cosmetic surgery wherein extra fat is suctioned out of specific areas, helping in reshape/slim the body. The primary goal of this procedure is to redefine & reshape the body contours in areas that are not responding to alternate methods such as diet and exercise.
Liposuction is generally useful for contouring under the neck, chin, abdomen, upper arms, hips, thighs, breasts, buttocks, knees, calves, and ankle areas.
Quick Facts About Liposuction
- Liposuction procedure uses small, hollow instruments called cannulas to remove excess fat from the body.
- There are mainly five types of liposuction procedures as listed below:
a) Tumescent liposuction: It is the most common type of liposuction. In this procedure, a large quantity of medicated solution is injected into the targeted areas before the fat is removed.
b) Ultrasound-assisted liposuction or UAL: This procedure uses ultrasonic vibrations to turn fat cells into a liquid, which is then vacuumed out.
c) Laser-assisted liposuction: Laser liposuction to trim the body uses laser energy to liquefy fat cells, which are then vacuumed out through cannulas.
d) FaceTite: An extremely effective and modern liposuction procedure, FaceTite is a non-surgical facelift that delivers similar results to a surgical facelift. This technologically advanced and minimally invasive procedure requires only topical anesthetic or mild sedative leaving no scars or bandaging required after the treatment.
What are the Potential Risks & Complications of Liposuction
Similar to any other surgical procedure, liposuction is also associated with certain risks & complications as mentioned below-
- Hematoma or excessive bleeding
- Persistent swelling or pain in the area where the incision is made
- Asymmetry and changes in skin sensation
- Pulmonary & cardiac complications
- Contour irregularities, skin sagging, scarring, skin discoloration, or other unsatisfactory skin aesthetic results
- Necrosis or tissue death
- Deep vein thrombosis, etc.
What to Expect Prior to the Procedure
Before the procedure, Houston Plastic Surgeon Dr. Schusterman will examine you and run a few lab tests to ascertain your health. This includes a full health history as well as a detailed history of your weight.
At this stage, it is extremely important to prepare a checklist of aftercare questions to be asked to the plastic surgeon as they will help you reach your aesthetic goals sooner.
Here is a quick checklist of questions (and answers) on aftercare that you should ask the doctor before undergoing a liposuction procedure-
- What is the recovery time for liposuction surgery?
This generally depends on the amount of fat being removed from the body, the target area, and the number of areas that are to be treated. For technologically advanced and latest techniques such as FaceTite, the recovery time is much less as compared to traditional techniques.
- What kind of post-surgical care is involved in the specific target area?
In most of the cases, compression garments, elastic bandages, and minimal use of the area are required to start the recovery process.
- What kind of follow-up is required after the liposuction procedure?
This also varies from case to case. While some surgeons may require just a single post-surgery visit to evaluate the situation & confirm that healing is as per expectations, others may require multiple follow-up visits as part of the liposuction aftercare.
- What kind of results can I expect post-surgery?
Remember, it can take several weeks to maybe even months for the swelling to subside and the skin to tighten before the results can be seen in their entirety. Your doctor/surgeon can help guide you through this process.
Some of the other specific questions that you should ask your surgeon when it comes to expectations during your individual recovery period include-
- Post-surgery, where will I be taken?
- Will I have bandages/dressings on the incisions after surgery?
- Will I be prescribed any medication post-surgery?
- When will the stitches be removed?
- How long will I have to wear a compression garment?
- After how long can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I come back for follow-up care?
Medical Counsel After Liposuction
Your surgeon/doctor will also give you specific instructions regarding liposuction aftercare, including-
- How to take care of the affected area and drains
- Depending on your general health conditions, what are the specific concerns to look for at the treated place
- List of medications (to either apply or take orally) to speed up the process of healing and reduce chances of infection
Liposuction recovery for women is a long process that requires consistent efforts from the patients’ side, under the expert guidance of a qualified liposuction surgeon.
During the liposuction recovery stage, elastic bandages or a compression garment is generally used to cover the treated areas. These help to control the swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours.
In most cases, patients are allowed to return to work after 2-3 days if their work profile is non-strenuous, such as a desk job. However, exercise or strenuous are activities not recommended and should be resumed only after 2 to 3 weeks, depending on the areas being treated and also the extent of the procedure.
Garments to be Worn after Liposuction
Post any cosmetic procedures, especially liposuction, patients are advised to wear a compression garment. Wearing compression garments is, in fact, an important aspect of liposuction aftercare for women as it aids in the healing process.
These garments are available in various forms such as socks, tops, full-body garments, pantyhose, sleeves, and more. They are specifically designed to be worn at the incision spot in order to help it heal quickly.
How do they work, and what are the benefits of a compression garment
Compression garments of all types are designed to be customised with drainage tubes to help push excess fluid out of the body after liposuction surgery. There are several benefits that wearing compression garments can bring, such as:
- They add external pressure to the body in the specific area where the incisions have been made to keep the swelling down as well as stop any bruising.
- These compression garments also aid in body circulation, which further speeds-up the healing process.
Although compression garments are primarily used for healing after liposuction, they are also beneficial for other health conditions such as diabetes and blood circulation problems.
Since each compression garment is different in terms of pressure, it is recommended to use them under your doctor’s guidance only.
Antibiotics to Resist Infection Post Liposuction Surgery
Generally, antibiotics or pain medication needed varies based on the type of procedure-
- For a tumescent liposuction procedure, patients usually require acetaminophen (extra-strength Tylenol) to ease the pain and resist infection.
- For the non-tumescent procedure, oral narcotics are often necessary to prevent infection.
Pain Management Post Liposuction
Here are some tips on managing swelling, pain, and dizziness caused by liposuction.
One of the important liposuction aftercare measures is managing pain. Most of the pain and swelling after liposuction is due to the residual anaesthetic used during the procedure, that remains under the skin. Use of good-quality compression garments and providing ample healing time allows for the drainage of the anaesthetic gradually.
Post liposuction procedure, the patients will be given a list of post-operative instructions. Generally, the amount and type of anaesthesia used to determine the level of pain experienced during the initial few days after liposuction are extremely important.
Liposuction done with intravenous sedation (IV) does not lead to postoperative pain in most cases. Other than acetaminophen, no other medication is required in this case.
Liposuction performed under general anaesthesia usually leads to intense pain, requiring prescription pain medication.
Few other things to keep in mind here-
- Although there will be intense pain during the two to four days after the surgery, it lessens gradually.
- It is advised to discuss pain medication with your surgeon/doctor to ensure you get the appropriate medication.
- Dizziness, soreness, and tenderness are common after liposuction but gradually declines.
- It is recommended to avoid OTC supplements and other medication if they are not advised by your doctor as they can further increase bruises and drainage.
Schedule Enough Rest Time during the Recovery Days following a Liposuction
Post the procedure, patients are advised to take sufficient rest and only engage in light physical activity such as walking as it helps in the prevention of blood clots.
Strenuous activity should be strictly avoided for almost a month.
Why Tumescent Liposuction is Considered to be Safe
Among all the liposuction techniques, tumescent liposuction is considered as the most common cosmetic procedures and is also the most effective & safe.
Among the reasons that make tumescent liposuction a relatively safe method include-
- Tumescent liposuction is performed as an outpatient procedure and does not require general anaesthesia to be administered to the patient.
- The procedure is less painful and has a quicker recovery time as compared to the traditional liposuction method.
Although liposuction can help you get rid of excess body fat and achieve the desired body aesthetics, it is essential to take all the aftercare measures under the guidance of your doctor. It is also important to set realistic expectations from the procedure and understand the fact that maintaining a new look requires a lot of hard work and long-term commitment to a healthy lifestyle.