Highlighting the Lipo

Highlighting the Lipo


All about liposuction

One of the main goals of plastic surgery is to alter and improve the body’s shape and/or size. Patients wishing to decrease their overall body size or add some contouring choose liposuction. It’s one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the world.

Versatile and capable of being performed on nearly any body part - arms, legs, chin, abdomen, etc. - that has excess subcutaneous fat, liposuction is a versatile and effective surgery. Abdominal lipo is also known as 360 degree liposuction. All the math nerds already know that this specific procedure involves lipoing the entire way around the abdomen (all 360 degrees!)

This article is the second in a series highlighting some of the most popular plastic surgery procedures. In the Highlighting series, we tell you ALL the alternative names of the surgery so you learn the medical terminology as well as develop a little street cred with slang terms. We share a little history of the procedure and describe the general process. We mention possible complications and give you an idea of the typical recovery time.

Also known as:

Lipoplasty, liposculpting, suction lipectomy, body sculpting, fat vac.

First recorded liposuction

The first attempt at body contouring happened in 1921, when French surgeon Dr. Charles Dujarrier sought to enhance specific parts of a dancer’s body: her knees and ankles. Understand that he did not use suction. Rather, he picked up his scalpel and cut away the excess skin and soft tissue. Unfortunately he cut off too much and the patient’s incisions turned necrotic - the skin and tissue died due to lack of blood flow - so he had to amputate.

General process

After sedation - usually general anesthesia - small incisions are made where the thin tube (the cannula) will be placed. A solution of diluted local anesthesia is injected into the areas to be liposuctioned. This solution will reduce bleeding and trauma. Sometimes VASER (short for Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance) is used to melt and break down fat, and then the cannula is inserted and the fat is suctioned out. The treated areas are bandaged and you’re placed in some type of compression garment.

The compression garment is worn to reduce uncomfortable swelling, promote movement of lymphatic fluid and help guide any loose skin to retract and tighten. Make sure to wear your compression for as long as your surgeon recommends to reap the most benefit from it. Think of it like a prescription for a hug.

What could go wrong?

Complications that may occur include:
  • Seroma - a collection of fluid in tissue near surgical sites or where tissue has been removed.
  • Contour irregularities - uneven distribution of subcutaneous fat pockets caused by excessive liposuction, a poorly trained surgeon or not wearing the instructed compression garments.
  • Loose skin - older patients, those with poor skin elasticity or patients who have had large amounts of fat removed may be left with excess skin.

What could go right?

The good things that you should mentally focus on include:
  • Tighter, more toned body parts. When the swelling eventually goes away, you will look and feel amazing.
  • A reason/need to go clothes shopping. All this time your clothes have been steadily getting smaller but now they’re big! Donate or sell them to make room for your new, smaller duds.
  • Improved self-esteem and confidence. You are taking steps to improve your outward appearance, which could in turn improve your inward perception of yourself.

Recovery time

It usually takes around two weeks to feel better after liposuction, according to a great article by News-Medical.Net. Expect some pain and swelling as well as bruising. Swelling may come and go depending on a few factors, such as your diet and level of physical activity and exertion. Remember, the side effects are temporary. Your newly chiseled body is permanent as long as you take care of it.

Always follow your doctor’s instructions and suggestions regarding compression, physical activity, nutrition and hydration and medicine. If there is any aspect of your process that is unclear, make sure to ask.

The last stitch

Liposuction has fortunately come a long way since that first unfortunate patient laid on the table in 1921. New techniques are always under development, striving for balance between the most effective/beneficial procedure that remains safe. While there are some complications with 360 degree liposuction (as well as other types of liposuction and basically any kind of plastic surgery,) nothing in life is 100% safe.

If you’re concerned about possible complications, think of the famous Thomas Jefferson quote: “With great risk comes great reward.” Liposuction can be an effective solution for areas of your body that exercise hasn’t been able to remedy. Then after your liposuction, you can make lifestyle changes to empower yourself and maintain “the great reward,” your new physique!


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