Fat cells are unique. After birth, fat cells don’t multiply or regenerate like other cells in the body. Rather, the fat cells simply get larger and become more full as you gain weight. Gender differences combined with hereditary factors determine your capacity for storing fat in different areas of the body. For example, women tend to store more fat around the hips, thighs and abdomen, whereas men tend to store fat around the waistline.
Frequent advances in the field of cosmetic surgery make it difficult for the patient to be fully informed and aware of the plastic surgery vocabulary and lingo. The following are terms you will hear in discussing liposuction (lipoplasty).
Areas of the body that are commonly treated with liposuction include:
Tumescent Technique-Prior to performing the liposuction procedure, salt water (also called saline) along with adrenaline and sometimes an anesthetic medicine, lidocaine, is injected into the fatty layer. Tumescent technique is used in all liposuction procedures to prevent bleeding.
Suction-Assisted liposuction (SAL)-Suction-assisted liposuction is the traditional “liposuction.” In this technique a thin, hollow metal tube with multiple holes at the end, called a cannula, is placed into the fatty layer through a small skin incision. The end of the cannula outside the body is attached to tubing that is connected to a vacuum. The cannula is moved back and forth through the fat layer by the surgeon, and the fat is collected into a cannister.
Ultrasonic-Assisted liposuction (UAL)-UAL is also a technique for removing fat. In this technique, the tip of the cannula delivers ultrasound energy into the fatty layer. The ultrasonic energy causes the fat to “implode,” turning the fat to liquid. SAL is then used to remove the liquefied fat and further contour the area. This powerful technique allows the surgeon to sculpt difficult areas more easily, in particular the male breast, the upper abdomen and the upper back.
Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL)-PAL is a liposuction technique that combines the SAL technique with a motorized system that produces back and forth motions in the cannula, making the effort needed by the surgeon less.
Despite regular fitness and proper nutrition, a shapely, well-proportioned figure is not always attainable because of hereditary factors that determine where you deposit fat. Liposuction is a surgical technique that allows a plastic surgeon to remove excess fat from specific areas, including the face, neck, arms, back, chest, abdomen, hips and love handles, buttocks, thighs, knees, calves and ankles.
Advances in surgical techniques and instrumentation, improved safety of anesthesia, excellent outcomes and happy patients have contributed to the tremendous demand in liposuction over the past few years. Such a high satisfaction with liposuction procedures has resulted in liposuction being the most common cosmetic surgery procedure. Body contouring and shaping procedures, including liposuction and lifts, can eliminate excess fat and tighten loose muscles and skin, creating a more enhanced, well-proportioned and fit body shape. Clothes fit better. It is often easier to buy clothes. Patients report feeling more confident and having a greater self-confidence about their body image.
Liposuction is also used in reconstructive plastic surgery. Liposuction is very helpful in creating a shapely breast mound in women undergoing breast reconstruction following mastectomy. In certain patients with eating disorders that are interrelated with a distorted body image, the use of liposuction to address a specific area, especially the “saddle bag” areas on the thighs, can be a therapeutic treatment. By surgically correcting the area with excess fat, obsessive exercise habits and starvation diets are no longer needed to maintain the desired body shape.
A body-shaping procedure is a very personal decision, and we want to make sure all of your questions and concerns are addressed. The consultation will begin with a complete medical history and exam. You should tell Dr. Jones if you have any history of poor scarring; any history of previous liposuction or any surgery, any family history of breast cancer, and your areas of concern. If you are planning to lose a significant amount of weight or you may want to become pregnant in the future, you should mention this to your doctor. You will be asked about the changes you seek, your exercise habits and your diet. This will help us understand your expectations and determine a plan that best addresses your expectations.
While many people are potential candidates for liposuction, there are certain characteristics that make you a better candidate than others. Liposuction is most commonly recommended for those who are at or near their normal weight, have good skin elasticity and excess fat at specific locations. Although liposuction is not a treatment for obesity, it can still be used to permanently contour an area that diet and exercise cannot eliminate.
Skin elasticity is a key aspect in assessing the potential effectiveness of liposuction. When fat is removed from an area with liposuction alone, the overlying skin must tighten up or else the skin will be saggy. Therefore, the ideal liposuction patient is someone who has good skin elasticity. Those with loose, saggy skin or with stretch marks are better candidates for a lift procedure, which removes the loose, saggy skin as well as the fat. Liposuction can be combined with a lift procedure to effectively remove fat and tighten the skin.
Liposuction alone is not a good treatment for cellulite. Again, a lift or tuck procedure, which removes skin and fat in conjunction with liposuction, is better at eliminating cellulite and producing smoother skin.