Before You Lipo

January 16, 2008 9:43:59 AM PST
Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty, is defined as the removal of fat deposits beneath the skin using a tube-like instrument, called a cannula, attached to a powerful vacuum called an aspirator. Liposuction is the most common form of plastic surgery, with more than 300,000 Americans opting for the procedure each year. Lipo can be preformed while a patient is under general anesthesia or strong IV sedation. Newer, less invasive liposuction procedures only require local anesthetic. Liposuction is a procedure for shaping the body and it's not intended to be a method of weight loss.

RISKS: The amount of fat that can safely be removed is usually less than 10 pounds. The more fat that's removed, the greater the surgical risk. Uneven, lumpy or dented skin can also result from removing too much fat during liposuction. Traditional liposuction can also leave patients with baggy pockets of loose skin once the fat has been sucked out, and some patients require a tummy tuck or other reconstructive procedures after the surgery. Traditional liposuction can also cause bruising and generally takes two weeks to recover from. The surgery itself usually takes three hours.

Liposuction is not for everyone. The following guidelines serve as a rule of thumb as to who is a good candidate for lipo:

  • Over age 18
  • Generally healthy
  • Tried diet and exercise, but may be frustrated by the last 10 or 15 pounds
  • Does not have diabetes, infections or circulation problems
  • SMART LIPO: Smart Lipo is a relatively new liposuction procedure. What sets it apart from traditional liposuction is a small laser that liquefies fat cells before they are sucked out. A patient is given local anesthetic and can remain completely alert during Smart Lipo. The surgeon starts the procedure by inserting a small cannula (1 mm to 2 mm wide) into a tiny puncture hole in the skin. The cannula contains laser fiber that ruptures fat cells allowing for easy drainage. Once the fat cells are liquefied, they are then easily sucked out by a vacuum. The procedure takes about 45 minutes and because it is so minimally invasive, many patients are able to carry on daily activities immediately. In addition to melting away fat, the laser used during Smart Lipo helps the skin after the operation, meaning patients most likely won't have the "empty bag" syndrome that traditional lipo patients experience following surgery.