Liposuction is now one of the commonest beauty operations worldwide. Liposuction involves very little risk, and is advisable for dealing with stubborn fatty deposits. As the fatty cells that have been sucked out rarely regenerate, the results achieved by liposuction are lasting. Liposuction is almost always carried out for aesthetic reasons. The patient suffers from deposits of fat which cannot be broken down by any other means. These deposits of fat cannot be got rid of even by strict dieting, sport or gymnastics. They settle on the abdomen, hips, thighs, arms or neck, and upset the harmonious overall balance of the body. Women are particularly liable to develop deposits of fat on the thighs and hips, colloquially referred to as ‘saddlebags’. Persons with these fatty deposits are acutely affected psychologically. Their self-confidence is impaired, and there are many activities, like sport, from which they feel they are excluded. The layers of fat can also result in defective cutaneous perfusion.
Before a liposuction, the experienced plastic surgeon Dr Bromba in Essen, Germany, gives his patients the opportunity of thoroughgoing consultation over several meetings. It is very important that your expectations of the operation should be realistic. You need to be aware that liposuction is not a method for losing excessive weight. It forms the basis for an aesthetic correction of the bodily contours, but it does not make diet or sporting activity superfluous. Dr Bromba will explain the different methods and the risk to his patients in intensive detail.
The layers of fat in question arise in the subcutaneous fatty tissue, which is not going to be affected either by reduced calorie intake (diet) or by increasing calorie consumption (sport). The subcutaneous fatty tissue is precisely what is removed by liposuction. This makes it a very appealing method for remodelling the form of the body. The fatty deposits on the hips, on the abdomen and under the chin, in particular, can be very effectively removed by this method.
The procedure is usually given to outpatients. On the whole a local anaesthetic is sufficient, though when a lot of fat is to be removed we recommend local anaesthetic combined with twilight sleep. Before the operation, the surgeon marks the layer of fat that is to be dealt with on the body with a pencil. A small incision of 0.5 to 1 cm is made in the skin at various inconspicuous points, perhaps in the fold of the buttocks or on the navel. A syringe connected to a vacuum pump is inserted at these points. The syringe extracts the superfluous fat reserves by means of sub-atmospheric pressure. Depending on the area treated and the number of fatty deposits, a liposuction operation may take anything from 20 minutes to 2 hours. In order to facilitate the extraction process, before the fat is sucked out a liquid will be injected into the areas that are to be treated. When the tumescent technique is used, the fatty cells are sluiced with large quantities of saline solution. Together with the saline solution an anaesthetic is administered. After a liposuction a compression girdle, support stockings or special bandages will be worn on the areas of the body that have been treated. This is to prevent liquid accumulating in the cavities that have been created. Cooling pads are a further help in preventing the swelling that could otherwise occur after a liposuction.
The final result of liposuction only becomes visible after 6 to 12 months. You may have to exercise a little patience before your new bodily contours are achieved. The small scars remaining from the operation fade in the course of time. You should only resume sporting activities after a few weeks. Risks of liposuction: Liposuction involves relatively little risk. Following the operation, you may notice a change in your sensitivity to touch in the areas treated, and there may be feelings of numbness. After a few weeks the effect will however recede. In isolated cases there may be loss of blood, or scar tissue may form. If this does not disappear of its own accord, another small operation may be required. In extremely rare cases a fat embolism may occur, necessitating intensive medical treatment.