Doctor drawing procedure lines on woman's face.

Lipo Contouring

Lipo Contouring (liposuction) is defined as removal of fat deposits beneath the skin with vacuum assistance. Using small stainless steel hollow tubes with special tips, fat can be removed to improve the shape and appearance of many body areas including upper and lower abdomen, chin, flanks, back, chest, inner and outer thighs and hips.

Liposuction destroys fat cells that will not grow back. They can be replaced, however, by a substantial weight gain. Liposuction is not a substitute for a reasonable diet and regular exercise. Generally, healthier lifestyles and a steady weight help retain the effects of fat loss from liposuction for a long period of time. It is not effective for cellulite, the dimpled condition found in the buttocks, hips and backs of thighs.

What to Expect

Liposuction is typically performed in an office or hospital operating room under general or local anesthesia depending on the area to be treated. After the procedure you will experience minor discomfort, bruising and swelling. It is natural to experience swelling and fluid retention in the area that has been treated. The swelling may take a period of weeks to fully subside. To minimize swelling and help the skin contract, patients wear a garment to compress the operative site for a month after surgery.

Risks and Possible Complications

The risks of liposuction include poor or uneven contour, rippled or saggy skin, irregular skin pigmentation, skin or nerve damage, or excess scarring.

More severe complications which are rare when liposuction is performed safely include, blood or fat clots, severe bleeding, organ damage and cardiac and pulmonary complications.

The use of ultrasound-assisted technology can sometimes result in heat related damage or lingering pain. You may see a change in skin coloration or feel a change in sensation around the area that has been treated. This usually improves over time.

There are several different techniques. In general, we prefer a rapid recovery technique using intravenous sedation (twilight sleep) and local anesthesia. This technique uses tumescent (larger volumes of diluted anesthesia infused into the fat) and we feel this is the best alternative for our patients, as it is associated with fewer complications. It is considered the safest form liposuction surgery and provides extended duration of pain relief following surgery to the point where many patients require little use of pain-controlling medication post op.

Depending on the amount of anxiety a patient has, in some patients heavy IV sedation is necessary, administered by a CRNA.

All forms of laser assisted ultrasonic liposuction result in the creation of fat tunnels within tissue. Post-operatively, compression garments help collapse these tunnels to improve contour and shape.

For liposuction, the areas to be reshaped are identified and marked. Small (nick) incisions are made allowing access for the fat cannulas. Then tumescent fluid is used to anesthetize and saturate the tissue. Cannulas are then passed through the tissue at different tissue levels in a cross-hatched fashion. After the procedure, a single stitch is placed in the incisions and a garment is placed over the treated areas.

Afterwards, you will have some fluid drain from these sites for the first 8 to 12 hours. The garment should be worn as continuously as possible for 10 to 14 days. Typically, patients experience minimal pain and may return to work within 24 to 48 hours.