What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is the removal of fat from underneath the skin. It is normal to find fat underneath the skin but the thickness varies considerably in different zones of the body. The shape of the body can be altered and improved by removing fat from selected areas.
How would I be helped by liposuction?
If you would like to change the profile of your body and this has not been achievable with diet and exercise then liposuction may be helpful for you. ‘Love handles’ above the hips, ‘saddle bags’ overlying the hips, inner thighs, inner knees, back rolls, tummy and ‘man-boobs’ may all be reshaped with liposuction. Although it is not essential to be at ‘ideal body weight’, liposuction is not intended as an alternative to being a healthy weight so it is not appropriate for patients who are significantly overweight. Liposuction relies on your own skin being elastic enough to shrink once fat has been removed. If skin is very stretched or thin, liposuction will result in thin folds or uneven skin.
How is the operation done?
One of the most important aspects of surgery is your consultation. Your surgeon will listen carefully to your concerns and discuss what you want to achieve. It is not unusual to combine liposuction with other operations.
Careful markings are made immediately before surgery. The operation itself is done while you are asleep (general anaesthetic). Saline fluid mixed with local anaesthetic is injected to the relevant areas and then one or two small cuts are made to allow the liposuction probe to be introduced.
Moving the liposuction probe systematically backwards and forwards breaks up the fat layer and the suction removes fat. The procedure stops when the desired contour is achieved - this is difficult to judge because of surgical swelling and also because operations are done with a patient lying flat; patients see themselves standing up in the mirror and gravity affects the way the fat rests on your body frame.
What happens after the surgery?
After the surgery you will be put into a surgical garment or tight sports garment and this should be worn as much as possible for 6 weeks.
You should plan to have a quiet week at home. You can expect bruising in the operated area and this often spreads with gravity. Pain is associated with the bruising but this is rarely severe.
Avoid vigourous or repetitive activities for 6 weeks but you can start gentle exercise as soon as you feel comfortable with this. The small wounds are typically covered with showerproof dressings so you can wash and shower as soon as you like to do so.
Most of the swelling will settle with in 3 weeks but residual swelling may take 3-6 months to resolve and it is at around this point that the final results of your treatment will be observed.
The overlying skin will be numb for several months but this should return to normal. Rarely patients may experience tingling or discomfort as the nerves to the skin recover but this is unlikely to persist in the long term.
What problems can occur with Liposuction?
This is a general anaesthetic operation and, in common with all general anaesthetic procedures there are potential dangers to general health. Chest infections and blood clots in the legs or lungs are amongst possible problems but these are still rare occurrences.
It is possible but very rare to have bleeding after surgery which may require return to the operating theatre. Infection of the wound or of deeper tissues can occur occasionally and it is also possible to develop a sterile collection of fluid (‘seroma’). Severe and dangerous tissue infections can occur in rare circumstances.
Vital internal organs can be pierced or punctured using liposuction but this very rare.
Despite these potential hazards, liposuction is generally a very safe procedure which gives high levels of patient satisfaction in the vast majority of patients.
What are scars like?
Scars are typically 1 cm long and usually 1 or 2 are required per each area treated. These scars generally heal very well and they are positioned to make them difficult to see.
Will any further treatment be necessary?
It is impossible to accurately measure or determine the amount of fat to be removed from any one area. There is always some unpredictability with the final results of surgery because of skin elasticity and fat texture. There may be some small wrinkles, irregularities or asymmetry after liposuction and approximately 10% of patients will require a further procedure to ‘touch up’ the results.
How much does liposuction cost?
This is dependent on the amount of liposuction required and the type of anaesthetic used. Small areas of liposuction can be done with awake surgery although this may still be uncomfortable. Starting from £2475, prices are calculated per 'area' treated and whether it is a large or a small area.