Liposuction

Surgical cellulite removal

Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, fat modeling or simply lipo, is a popular surgical technique used to remove excess body fat from overweight and obese patients. Doctors stress that it is not simply an alternative to weight loss through diet and exercise; the amount of fat that can be removed safely in a single session is usually less than 10 pounds, and liposuction plastic surgery is usually reserved for patients whose weight poses significant medical risks.

Liposuction Costs

Liposuction prices vary according to the amount of fat to be removed, the technique the surgeon chooses to use and the bodily region it is to be removed from. Prices also vary considerably from surgeon to surgeon; a tummy tuck may cost $5,000 at a given clinic and $8,000 at another. Surgeons with good reputations and extensive experience generally charge more.

In general, you should budget at least $5,000 and as much as $10,000 or more; your best bet is to gather liposuction information from surgeons in your area, since prices also vary from region to region. Avoid cheap liposuction procedures; liposuction risks are significant, and it's not worth risking your long-term health to save a couple thousand dollars at an upstart clinic.

Patient Evaluation

You'll need to meet several requirements to qualify for a lipoplasty procedure. At minimum, you'll need to be at least 18 years of age, in good health and unable to remove certain deposits of fat despite repeated attempts to do so through diet and exercise.

If you have heart problems, circulatory system problems, an infection or diabetes, you will not qualify for liposuction surgery. The risks will outweigh the potential benefits.

Liposuction Plastic Surgery Procedures

Doctors use a wide range of liposuction procedures to remove excess fat and cellulite from patients, including:

  • Wet liposuction. This technique uses a saline solution to loosen the fat to be removed, while delivering an anesthetic to the area to be treated.
  • Super-wet liposuction. The key difference between wet and super-wet liposuction is that the volume of fluid injected in the former is less than the amount of fat to be removed; in the latter, it is equal to the volume of fat to be removed.
  • Tumescent liposuction. If your surgeon opts for this technique, you will be injected with a local anesthetic as well as drugs that will constrict your blood vessels to minimize bleeding. It is similar to wet liposuction, but doesn't involve a saline solution injection.
  • Laser-assisted liposuction. Concentrations of thermal energy can make the process of fat removal easier; doctors use lasers to heat up fat for removal.

Various fat removal mechanisms are also used in both female and male liposuction. Lipoplasty can be assisted by suction machines, ultrasound machines, special power-assisted tubing and fan-shaped water beams.

Liposuction Risks and Complications

Surgical fat removal techniques come with many possible risks, side effects and complications. Bruising, swelling, numbness, pain, scarring and limited mobility are common during the post-operative period and afflict almost all patients. More serious potential liposuction complications include:

  • Reactions to anesthesia
  • Infection of puncture wounds used to introduce tubing to the body
  • Skin or fat necrosis
  • Post-operative fluid imbalances
  • Saline toxicity
  • Puncture of internal organs
  • Irregularities of skin contour and body shape
  • Thromboembolism

Recovery from Lipo Surgery

Most patients are able to resume normal activity within a week or two of surgery; it's important that you stay well hydrated and avoid the use of heating pads on your surgical wounds. Your bruises will fade within a few weeks of surgery, though numbness and swelling may linger longer. Most post-operative pain can be controlled with over-the-counter painkillers, though you may need prescription medications if you suffer from acute pain during your liposuction recovery period.

Alternatives to Lipoplasty

Several surgical alternatives are available to patients considering stomach liposuction or other fat removal procedures. These include:

  • Enzyme and medication injections. These injections dissolve fat, allowing the body to expel it in the urine.
  • Mesotherapy. Based on principles similar to enzyme injections, mesotherapy uses amino acids to break down fat deposits.
  • Laser-assisted collagen tightening. Using lasers, doctors treat the body's collagen deposits, causing them to tighten. The combination of this tightening mechanism and the laser's heat causes the fat to literally melt away.
  • Diet and exercise. Your doctor will recommend that you try the natural approach to weight loss before you undergo any surgical procedure.