Overview

The removal of fat deposits from specific areas of the body is the most requested cosmetic surgery procedure today. The liposuction procedure can help sculpt the body by removing fat from specific areas. Many people turn to liposuction to improve the look of their body by removing fat from specific areas immune to exercise. While liposuction should never be a replacement for diet and exercise, it can get rid of stubborn fat.

Over the past several years, liposuction has seen many improvements. New techniques have been introduced that have refined the liposuction procedure.

The best candidate for liposuction are people close to normal weight with relatively firm, elastic skin, but who are bothered by pockets of excessive fat. Age is not a factor in liposuction; however, older patients usually have lost some of the elasticity in their skin and may not have the same results as a younger patient.

Traditional Procedure

With traditional liposuction, the surgeon makes a very small incision in the area of the body being prepared by liposuction. A narrow tube or cannula is inserted and the fat layer of skin beneath the skin is vacuumed away. The cannula tube is moved back and forth breaking up the fat and suctioning it out of the area.

Ultrasonic-Assisted Lipoplasty (UAL)

A more precise form of liposuction is Ultrasonic-Assisted Lipoplasty (UAL). UAL is similar to traditional liposuction in that it removes fatty tissue from the body through a small incision. The difference lies in the tube or cannula that is used for the procedure. UAL lipoplasty uses a special cannula to produce ultrasonic energy. As the tube or cannula passes through the fat, the energy produced by the cannula breaks down and liquefies the fat. Longitudinal vibration moves the cannula 22,000 times per second and less than a thousandth of an inch allowing very accurate removal of the fat cells.

The best candidate for UAL is similar to the candidate for traditional liposuction. The patient should only be modestly overweight, have good skin tone, and have localized fatty deposits. It is extremely useful in body areas with dense fat like the back, male breasts, and saddlebags.

Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL)

Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL) refers to the advanced method using a power driven system to perform the surgery. PAL liposuction uses cannulas, which are similar to the ones used during traditional liposuction. The difference is that the cannula is connected to a pressure or electric powered handle that helps to move the tip of the cannula back and forth. The tip moves 3,000 to 5,000 movements per minute. This differs from ultrasonic-assisted liposuction during which the cannula used vibrates longitudinal 22,000 per second.

Like UAL, PAL allows more precise sculpting and is particularly useful in areas that have firmer fat, i.e. breasts, outer thighs, and the back. Recovery from PAL is similar to UAL.

Anesthesia

If the amount of fat being removed is not too great, local anesthesia is used for the procedure. Local anesthesia is used to numb the area and is sometimes combined with a sedative to make the patient drowsy. The patient is awake through the procedure and feels no discomfort. However, in the majority of cases, twilight anesthesia is used.

Recovery

Bruising and swelling are to be expected following liposuction. Most patients plan on 4 to 7 days before returning to work. A compression garment is worn for several weeks under the patient's clothing to help accelerate recovery.

The scars from liposuction are extremely small and hidden from view. Infrequently, rippling of the skin in the treated area may occur.