Despite good health and fitness, some individuals may still have disproportionate figures due to localized fat deposits. If you are bothered by excess fat deposits, liposuction may be a good option for you. Generally, liposuction slims and reshapes the body contours which can greatly improve self-image.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction, also called surgical lipectomy or lipoplasty, is the surgical removal of excess fatty tissue. Liposuction is not a new procedure, but it has come a long way from when it was first introduced to the United States in the 1980s. Early liposuction was fairly violent. Patients had to be under general anesthesia, and doctors had to make a rather lengthy incision to insert a large cannula. These cannulas had to be moved back and forth quite aggressively to break loose and suction out the fat. Of course, this created a good deal of tissue trauma and subsequent bruising that could linger for months. Plus, fat could be removed unevenly, leaving a lumpy surface.
Today’s liposuction techniques at Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery are dramatically easier on the body and more effective. Dr. Schierle and Dr. Fine perform every liposuction with the tumescent approach. Plus, when the conditions are right, we use either SmartLipo, which is laser-assisted liposuction; or SAFELipo, which is power-assisted liposuction.
Liposuction is now usually performed with the patient under sedation or “twilight” anesthesia; it is an outpatient procedure. Cannulas are much smaller, dictating very small incisions. Fat can be suctioned out very precisely without the uneven contours created by older methods. Recovery is easy and bruising is much less involved than even just a decade ago.
Areas Treated With Lipoplasty
The areas where pockets of unwanted fat can be removed have dramatically expanded as cannulas have become smaller. Liposuction is now used to remove fat from these areas:
- Upper arms
- Double chin
- Breast or Chest
- Bra line
- Behind the knees
- Lower buttocks
- Breasts for reduction
Liposuction Before & After
There is a misperception surrounding liposuction for some patients — they think this procedure can be used to lose weight. While you will lose a few pounds of fat, this is not to be considered weight loss. In fact, removing too much fat during a single procedure is dangerous. Liposuction is meant to target and remove unwanted, stubborn pockets of fat on areas such as the lower abdomen. These pockets don’t respond to dietary changes or exercise. At NSPS, we generally want our liposuction patients to be within roughly 10 percent of their ideal body weight.
Beyond that, patients need to have good elasticity in their skin. This allows the skin to shrink down to conform to the patient’s new slimmer contour after the procedure. If the patient has a large amount of loose skin, a tummy tuck could be a better option, possibly with liposuction included.
Liposuction requires a small incision near the site to be suctioned. Incisions may be small enough that they do not require any stitches. Once access is gained to the fatty tissue, a surgical vacuum is used to remove fat. If large volumes are removed from one area, some patients may be counseled on the use of compression garments after surgery to aid in the healing process.
What is tumescent liposuction?
With tumescent liposuction, Dr. Schierle or Dr. Fine first injects the target areas with a saline solution containing lidocaine and epinephrine. The lidocaine provides anesthetic to the area; the epinephrine constricts the blood vessels to limit blood loss and subsequent bruising. The solution acts to firm the fat in the injection area, making it easier to break loose and suction away. Once the tumescent solution has been injected, a small cannula (usually from 1-3mm) is inserted through a tiny incision. These cannulas are now so small that the incisions used to insert them into the target area usually can be closed with just a bandage.
What is SmartLipo?
We use SmartLipo when appropriate for our patients. SmartLipo is also known as laser-assisted liposuction. It follows the tumescent approach, but it adds laser energy. Once the tumescent solution has been injected, a thin laser fiber is inserted through a tiny incision into the target area. The laser energy heats the fat cells, rupturing their enclosing membranes and liquefying the fat. Now the small cannula is inserted and it suctions away the liquefied fat and the tumescent solution. Any liquefied fat or tumescent solution that remains is eventually removed from the body as waste products.
SmartLipo vs. Traditional Liposuction
The addition of laser energy is what makes SmartLipo different. By adding this energy to liquefy the fat cells, this makes it easier for Dr. Schierle or Dr. Fine to remove the fat. The cannula doesn’t need to be moved aggressively side to side, as in traditional liposuction. Also, it enables the use of a smaller cannula, so the incision necessary to insert the cannula is tiny. The heat provided by the laser also has the added benefit of causing the body to remodel the collagen in the area, subtly constricting down the skin to its new contour.
What is SAFELipo?
SAFELipo® has the ability to remove substantial amounts of excess fat smoothly and evenly while sparing blood vessels that aid healing. The process decreases risk for contour abnormalities after liposuction even with large volume reduction.
SAFELipo® involves a 3 step process.
- Separation: Our surgeons begin the process by separating the fat globules from their attachments. This is accomplished using a particular cannula that essentially “emulsifies” the fat without requiring any suction. This separation step makes subsequent removal of the fat easier allowing better preservation of blood vessels that allow the skin to remain healthy and smooth.
- Aspiration: Suction of the fat is then performed. This step is easier after separation so it is more rapid and is associated with reduced bleeding.
- Fat Equalization: After aspiration, a similar cannula is then used without suction to equalize the remaining subcutaneous fat in a consistent layer, leaving a smooth contour. This allows the surgeon to blend the suctioned areas to the surrounding areas and gives the skin a uniform thickness of underlying fat that prevents adhesion of the skin to the muscles and fascia. This is an important part of the process, as it can minimize cellulite as well.
“I could write a novel about my incredible experience with Dr. Neil Fine and his staff. Overall, I’ve never felt more cared for as a patient. Unfortunately, I’ve had my fair share of doctors. But nobody made me feel more comfortable, informed, or hopeful than Dr. Fine. I became his patient due to the fact that I wanted reconstruction after a double mastectomy. His skill puts him in the same…”
Recovery After Liposculpture
Following the procedure, we will wrap the treated areas to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. After these wraps are removed you will immediately transition into compression garments to be worn over the treated areas. These will be worn for a few weeks following your liposuction. These garments not only reduce swelling, but they also help the skin and underlying tissues adapt to their new slimmer contours.
You will have some bruising and swelling; this will take up to 10 days to clear. Most patients can return to work in just two or three days unless they have had multiple areas treated. Those patients may need a week off from work. Scarring will be virtually invisible. Recovery from our various liposuction options at NSPS is not difficult.
When will I see the results from my liposuction?
No matter what approach used by Dr. Schierle or Dr. Fine, your results are immediate. You will have some swelling and bruising that will need to resolve before you see your final results, but you’ll notice a difference immediately and this will continue to improve as your skin firms down to its new slimmer contours.
Are Liposuction Results Permanent?
Sometimes patients believe liposuction is a short-term procedure, but it permanently removes fat cells. They are gone for good. If you don’t gain a ton of weight, you will not build new fat cells and you will maintain your results for the remainder of your life. At NSPS, we stress the importance of making liposuction the beginning of a new chapter in your life. This involves taking better care of yourself after the procedure. If you do so, you’ll enjoy your new slimmer contours for the rest of your life.
Liposuction Surgery Risks
Liposuction involves the typical risks involved with surgery, such as bleeding, infection, and reaction to the anesthetic, but these are rare with modern liposuction. Complications specific to liposuction are:
- Contour irregularities — The treated area can appear bumpy or wavy. If the patient has inelastic skin, this is more prevalent.
- Numbness — Any numbness in the area is usually temporary, but it can endure.
- Fluid accumulation — Temporary pockets of fluid (called seromas) can form. These may need to be drained.
Overall, liposuction with the team at Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery has proven to be a safe and very satisfying procedure for our patients.
Schedule a Consultation
If you are interested in liposuction, contact Northwestern Specialists in Plastic Surgery for more information. Call (312) 266-6240 to arrange your consultation. Our practice serves Chicago, IL and surrounding areas.