What's the first thing someone says when they see liposuction being performed on some TV documentary? That's right…"Ugh…, that's disgusting!" And let's be honest, it's not a pretty sight either, but then again nor is open heart surgery or any other invasive surgical procedure. Yet there's something about body fat that repulses us, especially when it gets sucked out as a kind of semi-liquid goo. Liposuction, aka suction-assisted lipectom or liposculpture, is a serious surgical procedure. In fact, it used to be a last resort surgery, when all other attempts at losing weight had failed.
The first thing I want to point out about liposuction is that it's not an armchair solution to diet and regular exercise. In the past, people who had this treatment had tried all other ways to lose weight but to no avail. It was, I suppose, a drastic last-resort measure. Well, that was then and this is now. The technology has since moved on, and so has the safety aspect of the surgery and its recovery time. It's still not an alternative weight loss remedy, but it is one of the tools that can help folks reclaimed their lives and move on.
Today, liposuction can be performed as part of a cosmetic surgical procedure. One of my friends had it done once in combination with some other surgery she was having done, in her case it was a tummy tuck (read our comparison between liposuction and abdominoplasty). Unfortunately, she ended up putting the weight back on not long after surgery. The only difference was that the fatty bulges appeared in different places to where the liposuction was performed. It all looked a bit odd really, kind of misshapen. This is what I mean about how this isn't an armchair solution to weight loss. It's not used to treat problems of clinical obesity either. Any surgery of this kind has to be followed by healthier lifestyle changes. The surgery is there to help improve appearance, not to treat any underlying health conditions.
It's not only done as a cosmetic procedure. Sometimes, this type of surgery is carried out for health reasons other than weight loss, some of which include:
OK, let's look into liposuction in more detail and see where it's used and why. Firstly, this is a type of surgery that does two important things:
Regarding that first point, that doesn't mean you won't put weight on again if you don't change your diet, because you will. Look at the example above with my friend. She was able to pile the pounds on just as easily as before surgery. The only difference was that the fat stored in different areas.
As the name suggests, fat is removed using suction. During the procedure, the surgeon uses a thin blunt-tipped tube called a cannula. These cannulas are inserted through small, carefully controlled cuts in the skin. The fat is then "suctioned" out through the tubes. It's quite a physical process as a doctor forcefully moves the tubes around underneath the skin to get at the targeted fat deposits. If you've seen it performed on TV you will relate. It looks almost aggressive at times, but it's necessary to be that physical.
There only used to be one method for this type of surgery, and it wasn't without its risks either. Today you have more choices. Technology has moved on and that means your treatment is easier, safer and less painful than it ever used to be. Here are the three options:
Tumescent liposuction: Surgeons carry this procedure out under local anaesthesia to numb the area where the tube gets inserted. What happens next is that a large volume of a dilute anaesthetic solution gets injected into the fatty tissue. For all you medical buffs out there, this solution is made up of lidocaine and epinephrine (a capillary shrinking drug). The result of this is that the targeted area(s) becomes tumescent (firm and swollen), hence the name of this procedure.
I know it all sounds a bit gross but it's necessary. It's important to keep the anaesthesia effect under the skin and subcutaneous fat for the duration of the procedure.
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction: This is the newest of liposuction techniques. How this works is by using ultrasound to soften the fat into a more liquefied state. This obviously makes it much easier to get out. It's a technique that has proved to be particularly beneficial for removing body fat from the back, sides and upper abdomen areas.
Laser-assisted liposuction: Finally we have the laser-assisted liposuction. As the name applies, this is a technique which uses low-energy laser waves that, like the ultrasound method above, help to liquefy the fat tissue. The operating surgeon then gets to work and removes the fat using a small cannula.
Although these surgical procedures are safer and less painful than they used to be, it's still a major surgery nonetheless. Remember what I said earlier about how this is not an alternative to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Although liposuction permanently removes the fat, it doesn't remove your ability to gain weight. You won't put weight on in the areas where the liposuction was done, but that weight will surely go somewhere else. If you do opt for this type of surgery, make sure you have a post-operation plan of action and follow through with it. (Take a look at liposuction services in Singapore)
This is serious surgery that requires a surgeon that is fully qualified and experienced in this area. Don't just go with a clinic because it's got a good reputation; do your homework on the surgeon too. Be sure to get a thorough consultation so that you don't have any unanswered questions at the start of your surgical procedure.