Plastic surgery is in fashion. There are so many television shows and media reports nowadays regarding plastic surgery. The most common plastic surgery operation is liposuction. The idea that fat can be removed from the body is appealing to many overweight people. Instead of
constantly going on diets, exercising and starving, it is much easier to simply pay a visit to the doctor and have the fat removed within a matter of hours. Liposuction is the most common cosmetic operation at the moment. It is even more common than breast implants or facial lifting.
Is it really that simple? What are the risks of liposuction? How much does it cost?
In which cases is liposuction meaningful?
Liposuction is suitable for men and women, who have lipodystrophies (a condition characterized by abnormal or degenerative conditions of the body's fat tissue). Persistent fat deposits, which are usually caused by genetic and hormonal influences, are extremely resistant or even unresponsive to diet or exercise.
Liposuction is not a procedure that is suitable for general weight reduction! The aim of liposuction is to level the body's contours with the surrounding physical structures of the body to give a smoother shape to the area that is undergoing the liposuction. The fat cells are removed during the liposuction which means that no more fat deposits will form in the treated region.
One must not forget that fat can only be removed from the surface. However the bigger fat deposits are a lot deeper therefore this method is not suitable for general weight loss.
Where can fat be suctioned?
Liposuction can basically be performed wherever there are any undesired fat deposits: face, hips, stomach, thighs, lower legs etc. The prospects of success are dependant on the sex of the patient, the area undergoing surgery and many other factors which all have to be specifically evaluated and analysed by the doctor.
How Liposuction works
The operations can be carried out with local anaesthesia on small areas and regions of the body which are not very sensitive. Such operations can take place in an outpatient surgery centre. Do take into consideration, however, that you will have no medical care after the operation. When a large amount of fat is to be removed it is definitely necessary to be in a hospital setting.
After an accurate examination which takes place before the operation, the doctor marks the skin to indicate from which area the fat will be removed. He/She can then resort to several techniques during the operation.
- Tumescent technique
The doctor bloats the adipose tissue by injecting up to 6 litres of a salt solution. Narcotics are added to the solution if the operation is not taking place under general anaesthetic. The liquid is pumped into the body using a lot of pressure which causes the targeted areas to bloat. The fluid causes the fat cells to swell up and harden making it easier to remove them with the cannula.
- Tulip-Syringe System
This method of liposuction is simply a modification of the suction process in which the low pressure needed for the liposuction is not generated with an electrical suction pump but with the help of a special syringe. The suction process and the necessary cannulas do not differ.
- Ultrasonic-Assisted Liposuction
This technique uses ultrasound to break down the fat cells. The cells implode and release the contained fat in the form of a liquid. The fat-liquid is then suctioned out.
Liposuction is carried out using a high-frequency energy impulse to remove the fat. Two fine cannulas are inserted into the problem areas which emit electrical impulses with a high frequency but low energy. These impulses destroy the fat cell walls and discharge the liquid fat At the end, the doctor suctions the fat by inserting a cannula.
- Tunnelling Technique
The fat is suctioned with fine cannulas which have a diameter of two to three millimetres. They are inserted right under the surface of the skin. The cannulas are inserted either in a fan-shaped or a parallel manner into the skin through unobtrusive incisions and vibrate around 4000 to 8000 times in one second. (Ultra fibration) In this way the fat cells are loosened from their bond.
After the operation
Temporary bruising of the skin is normal. The bruises take about one to two weeks to disappear. After the Liposuction it is necessary to wear a "compression garment" day and night and later only at night. Duration: at least 2 weeks depending on the treated area and the connective tissue. It can also take as long as 6 weeks.
- Period of disability: ca. 2 days.
- Exercise: after ca. 3 weeks.
There are no restrictions after 6 weeks.
Liposuction: The Risks
- Aesthetic Complications :
There are certain unintentional side effects which can occur. Some of the possible side effects include asymmetry, dents and hyper pigmentation.
- Surgical Complications :
These complications include haematomas, perforation injuries, infections, thromboses, embolism (a condition in which an embolus becomes lodged in an artery and obstructs its blood flow) or skin necrosis (the death of skin cells). Serious complications are generally not expected. It is extremely rare for patients to die as a result of surgical complications. Such cases have occurred mainly to patients who were having large amounts of fat removed. Volumes less than 2 litres with a limited suction surface are generally considered non-critical if high risk patients have already been selected in the run-up to the operation.
Can the suctioned fat come back after the operation?
The amount and distribution of the fat cells in the body (ca. 30-4.000) is genetically pre-determined. The number of cells do not change even if weight is lost or gained. Fat cells either swell up or shrink. Liposuction is the removal of fat cells therefore after the operation it is only possible for the remaining fat cells to grow. The body will, however, still continue to store excess calories. If the fat can no longer be stored in the treated areas, it will simply choose other areas.
Liposuction is not effective if the diet is not concurrently transformed. The fat will be stored in other places such as the upper arms, the neck, back or in the face. This leads to the formation of new problem areas.
How much does liposuction cost?
Liposuction is not covered by health insurance. The expenses vary from 1.000 EUR for smaller to 5.000 EUR for bigger operations. It is also dependant on the complexity and method of liposuction.
The expenses vary and are dependant on the problem area that is to be operated on:
Thighs - ca. 3.000 - 4.000 EUR
Saddle bags - starting from 2.000,-- EUR
Stomach - starting from 3.000,-- EUR
Knees - starting from 1.200,-- EUR
Double chin - starting from 2.000,-- EUR
Upper arm - starting from 1.500,-- EUR
Hip region (male) - starting from 2.500,-- EUR
Ankles - starting from 2.500,-- EUR
Liposuction often causes the skin to become flaccid which means that the skin needs to be tightened in order to obtain the desired aesthetic appeal. If the skin needs to be tightened one also has to take these expenses into consideration.
How do I choose the right doctor/clinic?
The technique used is not the only security measure needed for a successful operation. The most important factor is the qualification and experience of the surgeon. His/her ability, alongside the technique used, determine the outcome of the operation. Liposuction is a medical as well as technical skill which has to be carried out with precision, tactfulness and endurance.
There are different types of doctors. Many doctors who do liposuctions are not plastic surgeons or doctors with the additional title "Plastic Operations". A lot of them are dermatologists or internal specialists. You should always ask what qualifications the doctor has.
Most doctors who excessively promote liposuction usually only have one thing in mind and that is a financial gain.
It is better to be a little hesitant if the doctor makes unrealistic promises. "Get liposuction in the morning and go home in the afternoon 2 kg lighter" is simply impossible.
Despite contrary reports and new methods, liposuction is not an operation that is not to be underestimated. It is an operation that requires serious thought.
Ask yourself if liposuction is really necessary and if it is not possible to reach the desired target with a little bit of discipline and exercise.
Take into consideration that you will still put on weight after liposuction if your calorie intake is too high. The calories will simply be stored in other parts of the body.
Ask yourself if you really want to lie on an operation table aware of all the operational risks involved.
Be careful when choosing a doctor for liposuction. Verify the qualifications and experience that the doctor has.
The Little Book of Lipo: Everything You Need to Know About Liposuction but Didn't Know to Ask, Carol Martin
Hungry for Change: Ditch the Diets, Conquer the Cravings, and Eat Your Way to Lifelong Health, James Colquhoun, Laurentine ten Bosch, Mark Hyman