Lipo Sucks! Literally
Liposuction, lipoplasty, liposculpture plasty or simply lipo, is the 2nd most popular cosmetic surgery among women, and 4th among men. In 2015, it was requested by more than 1.39 million patients worldwide.
Developed by two, Italian-American surgeons in 1974, the procedure literally sucks unwanted fat from various parts of the body. Patients who decide to undergo liposuction generally have a “normal” body weight, but want to remove stubborn body fat from specific parts of the body. Popular areas include the thighs, stomach, back, neckline and upper arms.
Lipo is not a treatment for obesity is not a “weight-loss method”. It does not even remove cellulite, dimples or stretch marks (sorry ladies). Rather than provide any immediate physical health benefits, the aim is to enhance how a person looks. This is done by contouring the body. For those looking for a little less love in their “love handles”, or to slim down the “saddle bags”, then liposuction is the perfect option. However, like any cosmetic surgery, there are techniques to understand and risks and benefits to consider.
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How’s It Done?
A hollow instrument called a cannula is inserted under the skin and attached to a power, high-pressure vacuum. The most popular lipo technique is tumescent liposuction. Several liters of a saline solution, local anesthetic and vessel-constriction epinephrine (adrenaline) is pumped below the skin of the target area. Small tubes, microcannulas, then suction the fat. The additional liquid helps create space between the muscle and fatty tissue, allowing the cannula to move more freely. Other variations include wet liposuction, super wet liposuction. Depending on the amount of liquid. Dry lipo (no liquid added before) is rarely used due to high risks of bruising and bleeding.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) is another popular technique. Also known as ultrasonic lipo, it involves energizing the cannula with ultrasound and melting the fat on contact. The ultrasound vibrations burst the cell walls of the fat, liquefying them. This makes the fat easy to suck out. In more stubborn areas (i.e. back and male breasts), UAL can be the best option.
However, it is important to note that this method requires a longer incision in the skin. This can increase risks of skin or internal burns. The procedure also takes more time and is generally more costly. It usually involves some tumescent (suction) assisted lipo to remove the melted fat.
Power-assisted lipo or (PAS), or powered lipo is similar to UAL. This method uses a specialized cannula equipped with a mechanized system that rapidly moves back-and-forth. This eliminates manual movements by the surgeon and makes the fat easier to remove. For smaller areas (i.e. neckline), PAS allows more precision and may result in less swelling and pain.
Laser-assisted, or laser-guided lipo (LAL) is another technique. The procedure uses tumescent fluid and is slightly less invasive than more traditional methods. With the help of a microcannula, laser energy targets subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin). Once again, this makes the removal process easier and reducing the risk of side effects.
What Are The Pros?
- Stubborn fat is well- stubborn. Lipo removes fat deposits, stubborn to diet and exercise. In addition to adopting a healthy lifestyle, it can kick start patients to lose excess weight naturally.
- It permanently removes fat cells, making it impossible for them to regenerate or grow back. As long as the patient maintains a steady weight, the contour changes resulting from lipo can be long-lasting.
- It is the most popular cosmetic surgery among Americans and Brits, and second most popular cosmetic surgery worldwide. Generally speaking, lipo is a safe.
- The recovery time is short and most patients are mobile within 2-3 days of the procedure. Extra bed rest may be needed for patients who have larger amounts of fat removed.
- Lipo can drastically improve self confidence and body image and patients report seeing changes in as little as 3-4 weeks.
What Are The Cons?
- Similar results are achievable through normal diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle. The procedure is for patients who have failed multiple times at achieving results naturally.
- After the procedure, patients who do not lead a healthy lifestyle may risk their remaining fat cells growing bigger. They may also redistribute to new “problem areas”.
- Lipo is not a treatment for obesity or long-term weight-loss, nor does not remove cellulite, dimples or stretch marks.
- All major surgery carries the risk of bleeding, infection and adverse reactions to anesthesia. Bruising of the skin (sometimes extreme) and swelling as common.
- Skin burns, temporary numbness and scarring may also occur. Contour irregularities are common in patients who have poor skin elasticity.
Is Lipo Right For Me?
Lipo is not for everyone. Patients must be in good health, over 18 years old. They must also consult with their GP before deciding to move forward. Those with circulation (blood flow) problems, diabetes or a compromised immune system should not undergo the procedure. It is also important that patients have good skin elasticity. This allows the skin to mold itself to new contours and prevents sagging in the treated areas.
Once again, lipo is not a treatment for obesity or a long-term weight-loss method. For patients who experience stubborn fat deposits or suffer from a medical condition, lipo is an excellent option.