Liposuction is also popular as lipoplasty which is a kind of cosmetic surgery that involves breaking down of the fat cells and getting rid of them from the body permanently. Liposuction is most commonly used on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, neck, chin, backs of the arms, calves, etc. In this procedure, the extra fat is being removed through a hollow instrument called cannula which is inserted under the skin and a powerful, vacuum suction is applied to the cannula to bring out the liquid fat from the body.
People are often found struggling to eliminate the excess fat pockets from certain parts of the body. In fact, dieting and exercise may also not be enough to accomplish a well-contoured body. So under such circumstances, it is only a liposuction procedure which can help people to get rid of the fat pockets permanently. Once these fat cells are removed, they will never grow back, associated fat cells may grow if not maintained properly. Liposuction is considered as a safe procedure and it has been used for more than three decades. Often surgeons choose to combine liposuction with other cosmetic procedures such as Tummy tuck, breast augmentation, etc.
Limitations of Liposuction
Therefore, liposuction is an ideal solution for anyone who desires to achieve a refined and rejuvenating body contour. Candidates must know that liposuction is not a weight loss surgery or a treatment for obesity. It is just a procedure which can help to remove the undesirable fat deposits from specific parts of the body. Liposuction is not responsible for removing the cellulite, dimples or stretch marks from any part of the body.
A liposuction can permanently remove the fat cells without bringing any change to the shape of the body. But it is very important for the patients to lead a healthy lifestyle before and after undergoing the procedure. There are chances that the fat cells may grow bigger if the candidates are not concerned about their weight and lifestyle. The amount of fat that can be eliminated from this procedure is always restricted and so the candidates undergoing the procedure must be within their ideal weight. Even though liposuction is considered as a safe procedure but it still beholds a certain percentage of potential risks like infection, numbness, scarring, etc.
Candidates for Liposuction
Liposuction is mainly used to improve the body contour and remove the undesired fat from certain parts of the body like abdomen, back, buttocks, chest, inner knees, hips, love handles, neckline and chin, thighs, upper arms, etc. According to the experts, the best candidates for liposuction are those people who have a good skin elasticity and also a good skin tone so that the skin can cast itself into new contour. People with no remarkable skin elasticity may end up with loose sagging skin in the areas of treatment.
The patients must be an adult and in an overall good health with proper circulation of blood. Diabetic patients or others with weak immune system are not recommended to undergo a liposuction procedure.
Preparation Before and During the Liposuction Session
Before beginning with the procedure the patients need to undergo some health tests to ensure that they are appropriate to undergo the surgical procedure. However, the surgeon may ask their patients to stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs for at least 2 weeks before the surgery. Women are recommended to stop taking contraceptive pills and iron supplements to avoid the possible complications.
During the ongoing procedure, the surgeon first administers with anaesthesia to the patients so that they do not feel any discomfort or pain while the ongoing procedure. A surgeon may require one to four hours to complete the treatment procedure. An anaesthetic liquid will be used to inject into the epidural space to partially numb the abdomen and legs. A local anaesthetic might also be used when liposuction is performed on very small areas.
- Tumescent liposuction- Liposuction in this procedure requires several litres of the saline solution along with a local anaesthetic and a vessel-constrictor is also injected below the skin in the area of treatment which will be suctioned out from the body right after the procedure. The fat is suctioned out through small vacuum suction tubes.
- Dry liposuction- This is another type of liposuction that does not include the use of fluid as an injection. However, this procedure has higher chances of bruising and bleeding.
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) – In this liposuction procedure, the cannula is energized with ultrasound which helps the fat to melt away whenever in contact with the ultrasound vibrations. The ultrasound vibrations burst the fat cells and emulsify the fat making it far easier to suck out from the body. This method is a good option for liposuction of more fibrous areas like breast, back.
- Power assisted liposuction- It includes the use of a special kind of mechanised cannula that moves rapidly in a controlled back and forth motion to allow the surgeon to pull out the fat easily.
- Laser-assisted liposuction- This is a procedure that requires the use of a tumescent fluid and a laser-assisted cannula to break down the fat cells. It is a least invasive liposuction technique that does not involve much of bleeding or bruising. A microcannula is inserted through small incisions that deliver the laser energy and heats up the subcutaneous layer of fat. The incisions are not sutured up to facilitate the draining out of the blood from the body.
Recovery after Liposuction
Immediately after undergoing the procedure, the patients who are administered with local anaesthesia can leave the hospital on the day of the surgery, whereas patients who are administered with general anaesthesia will have to spend a night in the hospital. The treated areas are bandaged or held tight with elastic bandages for the targeted areas after undergoing the procedure. The surgeons may also provide with certain medications for pain and antibiotics to ensure a healthy recovery. Some amount of bruising may also be noticed in the targeted area. Often the patients also find the area of treatment numb due to the presence of the local anaesthetic which may fade away within 6-8 weeks.
The surgeons usually recommend their patients to wear a compression garment for at least the first few weeks after liposuction to speed up the recovery. The post-op instructions that are provided by the surgeon must be followed minutely to enjoy a complication-free recovery. The candidates, however, can resume normal activities within a week. Some part of the result will be immediately visible but the final results will only be visible after three months when all the swelling and bruising has gone. But the patients must begin to lead a healthy lifestyle to maintain the results obtained in the procedure.
Every surgical or medical procedure does involve some chances of increased complications or risks associated with the procedure. The potential minor side effects of liposuction are-
- Infection, poor wound healing, allergic reaction to anaesthesia, accumulation of fluid, scarring, numb skin, and change in skin pigmentation, damage to the nerves.
- Irritation and minor scarring around the areas of treatment where the cannulas are inserted.
- Rippling skin where the skin will not tighten and remain sagging.
- The other rare side effects of liposuction are-
- Permanent colour change of the skin.
- Uneven skin surface in the area of treatment.
- Damage to the nerves and skin.
- Dangerous complications may include-
- Excessive bleeding.
- Formation of blood clots which may reach the lungs and give rise to severe complications.
- Accumulation of fluid in the lungs.
- The rise of infections.
- Toxic reaction to the injected solution.
- Damage to any of the abdominal organs such as the spleen.
Therefore to avoid such complications it is very important to choose a surgeon who has special training and experience in liposuction and has a clear knowledge about the complications and ways to treat it. Additionally, candidates must at first try to reach a weight that is near to their ideal weight by exercising and dieting. Even after accomplishing the desired results the candidates must choose a healthy lifestyle to maintain the obtained result.
Cost of Liposuction
The exact cost of liposuction mostly depends on the area of treatment, the extent of fat accumulation, the experience and reputation of the surgeon, geographic location of the clinic or hospital, the liposuction technique used, the type of anaesthesia, etc. The cost of liposuction is not covered by any health insurance since liposuction is mainly undergone to address cosmetic issues.
Individuals may often feel self-conscious about their loose, drooping skin in their abdominal area or find weakened abdominal muscle which is mainly due to pregnancy or weight loss. So such people may find tummy tuck surgery a useful procedure to achieve a tighter and a youthful body contour. A tummy tuck is one of the best ways to refine the body contour especially when diets and exercises are not enough to get rid of the stubborn excess tissues and fat cells of the tummy. There are several types of tummy tuck surgery each of which is designed to target certain areas of the body or specific issues.
Therefore, a tummy tuck is personalized cosmetic procedure that can help to improve the abdominal contour and helps the candidates to achieve a firm, flat abdomen. A tummy tuck procedure encompasses tightening of the abdominal muscles and then eliminating the sagging and excess skin. This procedure can be undergone by both men and women, especially who has recently undergone a dramatic change after a weight loss or pregnancy.
Candidates who must undergo the tummy tuck procedure?
A tummy tuck is an ideal procedure for those women who have experienced several pregnancies. This is because pregnancy mostly results in sagging skin of the abdominal area and weakening of the abdominal muscles. Any men who have recently lost a significant amount of weight may also wish to undergo the procedure to get rid of the loose skin in the abdominal area. However, candidates opting for a tummy tuck procedure must be in an overall good health and within an ideal weight.
Who should not consider a Tummy Tuck procedure?
- Women with a plan of future pregnancy must postpone the plan for future after completing a pregnancy. This is because pregnancies can separate those muscles which are tightened in the procedure.
- Candidates who are planning to lose a significant amount of weight in the future must also postpone the plan of undergoing tummy tuck because tummy tuck must be considered as the last resort. It should not be considered as an alternative to weight loss.
Before beginning with the procedure, the candidates are administered with appropriate anaesthesia, mainly general anaesthesia and intravenous sedation are used by the surgeon. A tummy tuck requires a horizontal incision near the pubic hairline and the belly button. However, the length and shape of the incisions depend on the amount of skin to be eliminated. Once the abdominal skin is elevated, the underlying muscles are tightened and repaired. In some cases, a second incision may also be necessary to eliminate the excess skin of the upper abdominal area. The upper abdominal skin is usually pulled down and the excess skin is trimmed precisely. At the end of the procedure, the ends of the skin are sutured up and a new belly button is also created. The sutures are dressed with bandages or tapes to close the incisions.
Types of Tummy Tuck Techniques
- Traditional tummy tuck- A traditional tummy tuck is the most common type of tummy tuck surgery. This involves making incisions that extend from the hips as well as incisions around the belly button. This procedure addresses the patient’s entire abdominal area. The belly button may be relocated if required to ensure the most natural appearance. Often surgeons may choose to combine with other cosmetic procedures.
- Mini tummy tuck- A mini tummy tuck is also known as partial abdominoplasty which is intended for the patients who are within ten percent of their ideal weight. This technique uses making of a single incision below the navel. But navel repositioning is not necessary for a mini tummy tuck. However, the results obtained are not so dramatic in comparison to a traditional tummy tuck and the recovery included is also shorter.
- Endoscopic tummy tuck- This surgery technique is aimed at patients with weakened abdominal muscles with little abdominal fat and least sagging skin around the abdominal area. The endoscopic tummy tuck uses a tiny camera that is attached to a slender tube. This tube is inserted into the area of treatment through tiny incisions. This procedure is ideal for those patients who are suffering from rectus diastasis in which the abdominal muscles get separated.
- Extended tummy tuck- This procedure is helpful for the removal of the love handles and the excess skin from the abdominal area. The incisions are usually made in lower positions so that it can be hidden under clothing. An extended tummy tuck is an excellent option for treating larger areas than the traditional tummy tuck.
- Circumferential tummy tuck- It is more of a body lift than a tummy tuck procedure. The circumferential tummy tuck is a surgery that is often undergone by patients with gastric bypass surgery. This practice comprises eliminating the excess skin from certain areas like thigh, buttocks, hips, abdominal area, etc. The incisions typically extend up to the back.
Preparation Before the Procedure
After consulting with a surgeon and deciding to undergo a tummy tuck procedure, it is very important to follow the pre-op instructions that are provided by the surgeon. The surgeon will go through the past medical records to verify the ongoing medications or allergic reaction to any medication. The candidates are also instructed to attain a weight that is near to the ideal weight since tummy tuck is not a weight loss program. Next, the candidates are asked to undergo certain laboratory tests to examine their physical condition.
The surgeons will also provide with some pre-op instruction to avoid complications. Some of them are-
- Candidates are asked to stop smoking since it decreases the flow of the blood and retards the speed of healing. So to avoid any such complications, the surgeon will instruct their patients to stop smoking before and after undergoing the procedure.
- Certain medications like contraceptive pills, anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinning medications, herbal supplements must be avoided as it increases the chances of bleeding.
- Candidates who are severely overweight are recommended to lose weight before undergoing the procedure.
What to Expect After the Procedure?
After undergoing a tummy tuck procedure, the abdominal incisions and the bellybutton area will mostly be covered with a surgical dressing. The surgeon will recommend to slightly elevate the upper half of the body and knees which are kept at an angle for few days after the surgery. The candidates will mostly experience some amount of pain which can be controlled with certain medications. Some swelling may still persist for about six weeks. The surgeon will also provide the patients with a compression garment which must be worn for about six weeks after the tummy tuck surgery. This will provide support to the new skin contour and enhance the healing.
The tummy tuck results are satisfactory in most of the time. The fat and extra skin in the abdominal wall are removed very easily. The results are long lasting provided the candidates have to maintain the result by leading a healthy lifestyle.
- Fluid accumulation may be seen under the skin. To avoid that the surgeons may place drainage tubes after the surgery. In some cases, they may also remove the fluid after the surgery by using a needle and a syringe.
- Poor wound healing may also be another complication that is associated with a tummy tuck surgery. The surgeon may provide with some antibiotics during and after the surgery to deter the chances of infection.
- During a tummy tuck procedure, some fatty tissues may be damaged and that may result in the death of the fatty tissues in the abdominal area. Depending on the area of injury, it may or may not heal on its own. Smoking may also increase the chances of tissue damage.
- Changes in skin sensation or numbness of skin is also another possible side effect of a tummy tuck procedure. This may occur due to the repositioning of the abdominal tissues or nerve damage. However, in most of the cases, this condition is self-resolving.
The Final Verdict
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is such a medical procedure that helps in removing the excess fat, skin and is also helpful in tightening of the abdominal muscles which may be the result of age, heredity, pregnancy, significant weight fluctuations, etc. A flat, well-contoured abdomen is well desired by most of the people. Often diets and exercises are not enough to accomplish such flat and toned abdomen, for such cases, undergoing a tummy tuck is probably the last resort and the best option.
However, a tummy tuck must not be confused with a substitute for weight loss. It is said that the results acquired from a tummy tuck are long-lasting, but any remarkable weight fluctuation may alter the result. So candidates who have a future plan for pregnancies or are willing to lose a significant amount of weight must complete all of it and then choose to undergo the procedure.
A tummy tuck procedure is not at all responsible for removing the stretch marks directly. But in some cases, the elimination of the extra sagging skin may result in removal of the skin with stretch marks.
Cost of Tummy Tuck
The cost of tummy tuck widely varies. The exact amount is hard to be estimated since it includes various other factors like the type of anaesthesia, the surgeon’s experience and fees, the geographic location of the clinic, etc. Since it is a cosmetic procedure so most of the health insurances do not cover the tummy tuck surgery. But the candidates must choose only a board-certified cosmetic surgeon for undergoing a tummy tuck surgery to avoid certain complications.