Liposuction: Not just a quick-fix for Obesity

Written by Ella Stephen

Liposuction is one of the most commonly talked about, but misunderstood cosmetic procedures available on the market. Liposuction was first conducted in Europe in the 1960s and initially resulted in many deaths. Modern liposuction is a safe and common procedure, which is undergone by millions of patients every year.

The United States is the leading market for liposuction surgeries, which is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures for Americans.

For those carrying around a few extra kilograms that are unable to shed the weight through diet and exercise, liposuction could be the answer. Liposuction is the targeted surgical removal of fat deposits which helps to achieve a more desired figure.


How does liposuction work?

Liposuction removes fatty tissue by breaking up the fat under the skin and suctioning it out. It involves making small incisions in the target area before inserting a cannula and using a syringe or a surgical vacuum to remove the fat. Some more modern liposuction procedures use a laser or ultrasound to break up the fat, making it easier to vacuum out and to reduce the swelling and bruising that is caused.

Liposuction can be performed on almost any area of the body from the head to toes, however it is most commonly carried out around the stomach, buttocks and thighs where fat often accumulates.

Is Liposuction an easy treatment for obesity?

Despite the common misconception, liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or being overweight. The ideal candidates for surgery are generally within 30% of their healthy weight, and the surgery aims to remove fat deposits that are caused by genetic factors.

Liposuction is not an easy miracle cure that negates the need for a healthy diet and exercise. Because liposuction removes fat from targeted areas, any subsequent weight gain may cause weight gain in different areas of the body. Similarly, it will not remove cellulite as liposuction removes soft fatty tissue, whereas cellulite is hard and fibrous material that cannot be fully cured.

Despite being a routinely performed and minimally invasive treatment, liposuction can take several weeks to fully heal, and the results are not immediate. Patients can be discharged the same day as the procedure, however many are required to have fluids drained from the site or wear elastic compression bandages for up to six weeks. Patients considering liposuction for a special event such as a wedding should plan several months in advance to leave adequate time for healing.

How safe is liposuction?

Liposuction is generally a safe procedure when it is performed by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon or dermatologist and when the patient adheres to the post-surgery treatment required. The most common risks include bruising, bleeding, infection and uneven skin contour. Loose sagging skin is common following the removal of fat, however if usually retains its firmness after several months.

There have been cases of botched liposuction by untrained or budget surgeons that have resulted in grave effects for patients. One woman in the United Kingdom was left with serious scarring and large craters and grooves all over her things instead of smooth skin as the surgeon had promised her. Botched liposuction procedures typically result in unsightly areas, however more serious complications include blood clots that can enter the brain, heart or lungs, or fat embolism syndrome, where loose fat can become stuck in the blood vessels.


Things to consider when thinking about liposuction

Liposuction is not a procedure to be taken lightly as it does involve significant cost and recovery time, however it can be a very positive procedure for many. The most important thing to remember is that liposuction is not a miracle cure in lieu of healthy diet and exercise. Patients should be at or close to their target weight before liposuction, and surgery should only be undergone for stubborn fat that cannot be moved by a healthy lifestyle.

The choice of surgeon is the second main consideration for those thinking about liposuction. You do not need to search far to see multiple accounts of botched surgeries and their unsightly effects. Liposuction should only be carried out by a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon or dermatologist, and it is important to research the best practitioners that will provide a safe procedure and quality results.

About the author

Ella Stephen