What is Lipoplasty?

What is Lipoplasty?
What is Lipoplasty?

Lipoplasty, also known as liposuction, is the surgical removal of excess fat from areas that are often resistant to diet and exercise, including the hips, thighs, abdomen and neck. Other common sites include the arms, knees, calves and ankles.

Developed in the early 1980s, lipoplasty offers significant advantages over other methods of body contouring. Extensive scars are avoided by working through small incisions –less than one-half inch in length- made in the most inconspicuous areas, such as natural skin folds. Most lipoplasty procedures can be performed on an outpatient basis and usually involve only a brief recovery period.

Because of its safety and effectiveness, lipoplasty has become the most common cosmetic procedure performed by plastic surgeons. It has helped thousands of men and women eliminate unwanted fat and achieve body proportions in harmony with their overall build.

Who is a Good Candidate?

Lipoplasty can benefit both men and women. In men, fat most often accumulates along the belt-line as “love handles”, as well as on the flanks, chest and neck. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to develop excess fat on the hips, inner thighs, buttocks and abdomen. Lipoplasty can also be used to remove fatty tumors (lipomas) and alleviate the development of excessive breast tissue in men (gynecomastia).

Once considered a barrier, age has become much less a factor with newer techniques of lipoplasty. Superficial fat suctioning, in which fat close to the skin surface is removed, has extended the age at which the procedure can be effective. Although skin elasticity must be considered regardless of age, it can often be improved using these newer techniques.

However, lipoplasty is not a replacement for good eating and exercise habits. In addition, realistic expectations are of utmost importance. Skin with a rippled or dimpled surface –described as “orange peel” and attributed to cellulite- usually cannot be improved with lipoplasty. Nor can these procedures re-sculpt your body to match any shape you desire.

No two persons, despite similar appearances, will respond to lipoplasty in exactly the same way. In addition to the skill and experience of your plastic surgeon, the final result depends on factors such as your overall health, underlying bone structure, skin condition, amount and location of fat, and tobacco and alcohol habits.

Although lipoplasty is most often considered a cosmetic procedure and, therefore, not covered by medical insurance programs, some exceptions exist. These include the removal of fatty tumors, the treatment of gynecomastia and some uses to correct deformities resulting from trauma or other surgery.

How is Lipoplasty Performed?

Lipoplasty may be performed in your physician’s office, a free-standing outpatient surgery center or in a hospital. The anesthesia used may either be local (numbing only the area to be treated), local with sedation, or general (with the patient entirely asleep).

In most cases, lipoplasty can be safely performed on small to moderately sized areas of the body on an outpatient basis, using local anesthesia. For larger areas, general anesthesia is recommended and – in some cases- overnight observation in a hospital may be required. For extensive procedures, usually involving multiple areas of the body, a patient’s own blood can be donated in advance and used as need during the operation.

The procedure itself involves small incisions –about one-half inch in length- made in the areas from which fat is to be removed. A blunt-tipped, hollow instrument (called a cannula) is inserted and then connected to a suction unit through a tube. As de cannula is manipulated back and forth through the patient’s tissues, the unwanted fat is drawn out. Blood vessels and nerves going to the skin are preserved as the cannula passes between them.

When the procedure is complete, the incisions are closed, leaving small, usually well-concealed scars. The entire operation normally requires about 30 minutes for each site treated. For example, if both “saddle bag” areas are treated, the surgery would last 45 minutes to an hour.

For persons who want very large amounts of fat removed, it is sometimes recommended that the procedure be done in stages, through several operations.

What is the Risk of Complications?

Lipoplasty is recognized as a safe and effective method of removing localized areas of excess fat by the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. As with any surgery, however, complications such as infection, blood clots, skin loss and even death can occur. However, these are rare –particularly if a well-qualified plastic surgeon performs the surgery (guidelines for choosing a surgeon are provided at the end of this brochure).

Variations from the ideal result are also possible, including waviness of the skin surface, temporary numbness, pain, swelling or bruising, and a permanent “bagginess” caused when the skin fails to contract to fit its new contour. In the latter case, excess skin may need to be surgically removed. However, with the advent of newer techniques –including the use of smaller cannulas and the combination of deep suctioning with superficial suctioning- these problems are not common.

How quick is Recovery?

However, keep in mind that lipoplasty is surgery, and your body has to heal before you see the full benefits of the procedure. Results may be visible as early as two or three weeks after surgery, but the full effect may not be evident for three to six months.

Is Any Special Care Needed After the Operation?

Patients are usually able to move about and care for themselves within 24 hours after the operation, although an extra day or two of bed rest may be needed when large amounts of fat are removed. Typically, you will be able to return to work on the third or fourth day after small removals, and one to two weeks after more extensive procedures.

Although no special diet is required, results are enhanced by a well-balanced diet and an effort not to overeat. Vitamin C, iron and zinc supplements may be recommended. These and other steps should be discussed with your surgeon.

I’ve heard About Fat Transplants. What is this procedure?

Exercise is recommended approximately two weeks after surgery to lessen the tendency of the skin to “stick” to the tissues below and to help prevent swelling. You may also be asked to wear a special garment to help your skin re-drape over the suctioned areas and to minimize swelling. This “compression garment” normally must be worn for one to three weeks following surgery. Massage or ultrasound treatment of the suctioned areas may also be suggested to decrease swelling and speed recovery.

Direct exposure of the treated areas to the sun should be avoided until all bruising has disappeared (usually in two to four weeks).

A fat transplant, or autologous fat transfer, is the process of removing and then re-injecting a person’s own fatty tissue. Fat injections are increasingly being used to correct contour deformities, such as depressions in the skin, and to augment (fill in or enhance) features such as lips, cheeks, etc. The fat is removed from an area of the body where excess fat exists (abdomen, thigh, neck, etc.), washed, and then re-injected.

The use of a patient’s own fat avoids rare, but serious side effects that can be caused by a sensitivity to other “foreign” materials. Areas treated with fat transfers are often “over-corrected” to allow for some shrinkage of the injected material. Although the improvements offered by fat transfers may not be permanent, they can easily be repeated if necessary.

Clínica Dermatológica y Cirugía Estética de Puebla®
Clínica Láser Puebla
Cita de valoración + 52 (222) 243 65 05 y 243 77 40
Puebla, Pue. México