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Liposuction, or simply lipo, is a type of cosmetic surgery that removes fat from the human body in an attempt to change its shape. Evidence does not support an effect on weight beyond a couple of months and it does not appear to affect obesity related problems. In the United States it is the most commonly done cosmetic surgery.
A plastic surgeon performing liposuction surgery
|Synonyms||Lipoplasty, fat modeling, liposculpture, suction lipectomy, suction-assisted fat removal, lipo|
The procedure may be performed under general, regional, or local anesthesia. It then involves using a cannula and negative pressure to suck out fat. It is believed to work best on people with a normal weight and good skin elasticity.
While the suctioned fat cells are permanently gone, after a few months overall body fat generally returns to the same level as before treatment. This is despite maintaining the previous diet and exercise regimen. While the fat returned somewhat to the treated area, most of the increased fat occurred in the abdominal area. Visceral fat - the fat surrounding the internal organs - increased, and this condition has been linked to life-shortening diseases such as diabetes, stroke, and heart attack.
Liposuction is generally used in an attempt to change the body's shape. Weight loss from liposuction appears to be of a short term nature with little long term effect. After a few months fat typically returns and redistributes. Liposuction does not help obesity related metabolic disorders like insulin resistance. It can also be used to remove excess fat in the chronic medical condition lymphedema.
There is a spectrum of complications that may occur due to any liposuction—risk is increased when treated areas cover a greater percentage of the body, incisions are numerous, a large amount of tissue is removed, and concurrent surgeries are done at the same time.
Some side effects and complications include but are not limited to the following:
- Pain, which may be temporary or chronic
- Post-liposuction fat redistribution or post liposuction weight gain
- Infections can become serious issues.
- Embolisms may occur when loosened fat enters the blood through blood vessels ruptured during liposuction. Pieces of fat can wind up in the lungs, or even the brain. Fat emboli may cause permanent disability or, in some cases, be fatal.
- Puncture wounds in the organs (visceral perforations) may require surgery for repair. They can also prove fatal.
- Seroma is a pooling of serum, the straw-colored liquid from your blood, in areas where tissue has been removed.
- Paresthesias (changes in sensation that may be caused by nerve compression) is an altered sensation at the site of the liposuction. This may either be in the form of an increased sensitivity (pain), or numbness in the area. In some cases, these changes in sensation may be permanent.
- Swelling, in some cases, may persist for weeks or months after liposuction.
- Skin necrosis occurs when the skin above the liposuction site changes color and falls off. Large areas of skin necrosis may become infected with bacteria or microorganisms.
- Burns can occur during ultrasound-assisted liposuction if the ultrasound probe becomes hot.
- Fluid imbalance may impact you after you go home. The condition can result in serious ailments such as heart problems, excess fluid collecting in the lungs, or kidney problems.
- Toxicity from anesthesia due to the use of lidocaine, a skin-numbing drug, can cause lightheadedness, restlessness, drowsiness, a ringing in the ears, slurred speech, a metallic taste in the mouth, numbness of the lips and tongue, shivering, muscle twitching and convulsions. Lidocaine toxicity may cause the heart to stop.
- Scars at the site of the incision are usually small and fade with time, although some may be larger or more prominent.
- Deformities, Bumpy or wavy appearances or more severe deformities may occur at the liposuction site after the procedure.
In general, fat is removed via a cannula (a hollow tube) and aspirator (a suction device). Liposuction techniques can be categorized by the amount of fluid injection and by the mechanism in which the cannula works.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction techniques used in the 1980s and 1990s were associated with cases of tissue damage, usually from excessive exposure to ultrasound energy. Third-generation UAL devices address this problem by using pulsed energy delivery and a specialized probe that allows physicians to safely remove excess fat.
Doctors disagree on the issues of scarring with not suturing versus resolution of the swelling allowed by leaving the wounds open to drain fluid. Since the incisions are small, and the amount of fluid that must drain out is large, some surgeons opt to leave the incisions open, while others suture them only partially, leaving space for the fluid to drain out.
Relatively modern techniques for body contouring and removal of fat were first performed by a French surgeon, Charles Dujarier but a 1926 case that resulted in the amputation of the leg of a French dancer due to excessive tissue removal and too-tight suturing set back interest in body contouring for decades.
Liposuction evolved from work in the late 1960s from surgeons in Europe using techniques to cut away fat, which were limited to regions without many blood vessels due to the amount of bleeding the technique caused. In the mid-1970s Arpad and Giorgio Fischer created the technique of using a blunt cannula linked to suction; they used it only to remove fat on the outer thighs. Illouz and Fournier extended the Fischers' work to the whole body, which they were able to use by using different sized cannulae. Illouz later developed the "wet" technique in which the fat tissue was injected with saline and hyaluronidase, which helped dissolve tissue holding the fat, prior to suctioning. Lidocaine was also added as a local anesthetic. Fournier also advocated using compression after the operation, and travelled and lectured to spread the technique. The Europeans had performed the procedures under general anesthesia; in the 1980s American dermatologists pioneered techniques allowing only local anesthetics to be used. Jeffrey Klein published a method that became known as "tumescent" in which a large volume of very dilute lidocaine, along with epinephrine to help control bleeding via vasoconstriction, and sodium bicarbonate as a buffering agent.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Liposuction.|
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