How Liposuction Works
Most body fat is located on top of muscle tissue, just beneath the skin. Blood vessels supply the area with blood, and nerve endings provide sensation to the skin. The amount of fat that accumulates under the skin varies depending on inherited traits, body type and lifestyle factors such as exercise and diet. Liposuction works by surgically removing excess fat with a suction device, resulting in improved contours in the desired area. There is a variety of liposuction techniques available today, including the use of ultrasonic waves or laser light to aid fat removal. However, most liposuction techniques are variations of the widely-used procedure demonstrated in this animation. This procedure, known as tumescent liposuction, uses a special fluid to aid fat removal with suction.
Your physician will carefully mark the areas that will be sculpted and use these markings as guidelines during the procedure. Liposuction may be done under local anesthesia where only the surrounding area is numb. Or, you may be asleep, under general anesthesia, for procedures involving large areas or multiple areas of the body. Tumescent fluid expands the tissues, making it easier to remove fat cells, numbs the treatment area, and minimizes bleeding. Once a large volume of tumescent fluid is injected into the treatment area, you will rest for several minutes while the area becomes completely numb.
Short incisions are made in inconspicuous areas or along natural creases of your body, depending on the location of the procedure. Your physician will insert a small tube-like device, called a cannula. Using a forward and backward motion, small tunnels are created in the fat layer, removing the fat with suction. The tunnels will collapse over the next few weeks, resulting in new contours in the specific treatment areas. The incisions may be closed with sutures or may be left open, and absorbent pads are applied to the site.
Recovery and Results
Pain, bruising, and swelling after the procedure are normal, and will typically subside within several weeks. You will likely need to wear a special compression garment for a few weeks to provide support, minimize swelling, and help the skin conform to the new contours of the body. While you will generally notice an improvement in your appearance very soon after the procedure, your new contours will progressively improve for three to six months. Although fat cells are permanently removed during the procedure, it is important to realize that liposuction does not prevent growth of remaining fatty tissue. With realistic expectations and proper maintenance, you can be satisfied with the results of your liposuction procedure for many years.
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