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        Liposuction (Suction Lipectomy)

        Liposuction is particularly well-suited for women and men who are of relatively normal weight but have isolated pockets of fat that cause certain areas of their body to appear disproportionate. These localized fat deposits may sometimes be an inherited trait and typically do not respond to dieting or exercise. Liposuction is often the only way to eliminate them. While it is possible to undergo liposuction at almost any age, you will obtain the best results if your skin still has enough elasticity to achieve a smooth contour following fat removal. When skin is inelastic, as in some older patients, it may not redrape well and a skin tightening procedure may be necessary.

        Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
        You may be a good candidate for liposuction if you have localized excess fat or if you desire contouring in any of the following areas:
      1. cheeks, jowls and neck
      2. upper arms
      3. breast or chest areas
      4. back
      5. abdomen and waist
      6. hips and buttocks
      7. inner and outer thighs
      8. inner knee
      9. calves and ankles
      10. Liposuction may sometimes be used to treat a condition called gynecomastia, or male breast enlargement, which frequently occurs among both teenage and adult males.
        Liposuction should not be considered a substitute for overall weight loss, nor is it an effective treatment for cellulite, a condition that gives the skin an uneven, dimpled appearance. Alternative treatments may be considered, in some instances, to improve this problem. Liposuction can be performed on several areas of the body at the same time, and it can also be done in conjunction with other aesthetic plastic surgery.

        Your Personal Consultation
        Because of individual physical factors, not everyone will achieve the same results from liposuction. Your plastic surgeon will take into consideration your unique characteristics in determining the most effective treatment. During the consultation, you will be asked to point out the exact areas which you would like to see improved. This will help your surgeon to understand your expectations and determine whether they can realistically be achieved. How will my plastic surgeon evaluate me?
        You should come to the consultation prepared to discuss your medical history. This will include information about any medical conditions you may have such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease. Your surgeon will want to know about previous surgeries, medical treatments and medications that you currently take. It is important for you to provide complete information. How much you currently weigh and whether you plan to lose or gain weight in the future will be factors in evaluating you for liposuction. Your plastic surgeon may ask you about the effects of prior weight loss on the appearance of those areas which you have indicated for contouring. He or she will assess the elasticity of your skin and estimate the amount of fat to be removed for optimal results.

        How liposuction is performed
        Fat is removed by first inserting a small, hollow tube, called a cannula, through one or more tiny incisions near the area to be suctioned. Incisions are usually less than one-quarter inch in length and are placed as inconspicuously as possible, often within skin folds or contour lines. The cannula is connected by tubing to a vacuum pressure unit. Guided by the surgeon, the suction device literally vacuums away the unwanted fat.

        Variations to the common liposuction technique
        Prior to performing liposuction, fluid is instilled into the areas to be suctioned. Plastic surgeons may use a "dry" technique, a "tumescent" technique that introduces large amounts of fluid, or other variations. Your surgeon will discuss with you the particular method that he or she recommends for treating specific areas of your body. Other options may involve the type of instrumentation used or whether suctioning is performed on the deep or more superficial layers of fat. These considerations are based in large part upon the goals that you and your plastic surgeon have set for your body contouring surgery.

        Understanding Risks
        Fortunately, significant complications from liposuction are infrequent. Every year, many thousands of people undergo successful liposuction, experience no major problems and are pleased with the results. Anyone considering surgery, however, should be aware of both the benefits and risks. I understand that every surgical procedure has risks, but how will I learn more so that I can make an informed decision? The subject of risks and potential complications of surgery is best discussed on a personal basis between you and your surgeon, or with a staff member in your surgeon's office. Some of the potential complications that may be discussed with you include bleeding, infection and reasons to anesthesia. Blood accumulations under the skin are possible, but these normally resolve themselves and rarely require removal. While numbness of the skin following liposuction is almost always temporary, it is possible for some lack of sensation to persist or for skin discoloration to appear in treated areas. Contour irregularities including depressions or wrinkling of the skin can result in some patients, but treatments are usually available to help minimize these problems if they occur.

        Your Surgical Experience
        The goal of your plastic surgeon and the entire staff is to make your surgical experience as easy and comfortable for you as possible. How should I prepare for surgery?
        If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of surgery. Aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding, so you should avoid taking these medications for a period of time before surgery. Your surgeon will provide you with additional preoperative instructions. Depending on the extent of your surgery and the type of anesthesia used, you may need someone to drive you home afterwards and to stay with you at least the first night.

        What will the day of surgery be like?
        Your liposuction may be performed in a hospital, free-standing ambulatory facility or office-based surgical suite. Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. You and your plastic surgeon will have decided in advance what type of anesthesia is to be used, either local anesthesia, intravenous sedation, and epidural block or general anesthesia. For your safety during the operation, various monitors are used to check your heart, blood pressure, pulse and the amount of oxygen circulating in your blood. When surgery is completed, you will be taken into a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored. There may be some discomfort, but this can be controlled by medication which you may continue taking at home. A compressive dressing such as an elasticized bandage, sponge or specially designed garment may have been placed over the areas that were suctioned. Your surgeon will tell you how long you should wear the garment and will instruct you on how to remove it so that you may shower or bathe. You probably will be permitted to go home after a few hours, although some patients may stay overnight in the hospital or surgical facility.

        How will I look and feel initially?
        It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals. The day after surgery, you will need to move around a bit to promote blood circulation. Your plastic surgeon will advise you to limit yourself to these brief periods of gentle activities for the first few days. Remember, you must not take aspirin or certain anti-inflammatory medications, and you should not smoke for a while following surgery. Your dressings will be temporarily removed within several days so that your plastic surgeon can examine the treated areas. You will notice swelling and bruising, which is to be expected. Swelling usually begins to subside a week or so following surgery, while bruising can last three weeks or longer. There may also be numbness in some areas, and it may take several weeks before feeling returns. If stitches need to be removed, this is typically done within ten days after surgery.

        When can I resume my normal activities?
        You may be able to return to work in just a few days. In many instance, you can resume most of your normal activities within one or two weeks and begin some form of exercise soon after. The timing of your recovery depends largely on the extent of your surgery.

        Results of Liposuction
        Liposuction surgery will reduce those areas of fatty deposits that previously created unflattering bulges and perhaps made it difficult to feel comfortable in your clothing or caused self-consciousness. Factors such as fluid retention following surgery and prolonged swelling may delay the appearance of your new, slimmer contour. The healing process is gradual, so you should expect to wait a while before fully enjoying the results of your liposuction. Occasionally, a touchup may be desired to further improve an area that has been suctioned. The additional treatment can sometimes be performed under local anesthesia in your plastic surgeon's office. More extensive revisions may require a return to the operating room.

        How long will the results last?
        The results of liposuction will be permanent, as long as you maintain your postoperative weight. Even if you gain a few extra pounds, you may find that the weight is distributed more evenly instead of accumulating in the areas that were problematic for you in the past.

        Please note: This information is only intended as an introduction to this procedure. It should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor to guarantee the result. The best method of determining your options would be to consult surgeons who are accessible to you to answer all your questions.

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