Dr. Mehr Talks Liposuction

Liposuction is a procedure that can help sculpt the body by removing unwanted fat from specific areas, including the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks and neck. Although no type of surgery is a substitute for a good diet and regular exercise, liposuction can remove areas of fat that stubbornly remain even after trying traditional weight-loss methods.
If you are considering liposuction, this overview should give you a basic understanding of the entire process. Please ask the doctor if there is anything you don’t understand regarding liposuction.

A GOOD LIPOSUCTION CANDIDATE MUST:
- have realistic expectations about the procedure and what it can do for you
- be at normal weight with firm, elastic skin with pockets of excess fat in certain areas
- need to be physically healthy and mentally stable
- be aware that older patients may have diminished skin elasticity making it harder to achieve the same   results as younger patients with tighter skin
- know the possible risks associated with the procedure.

At your initial consultation, the doctor will evaluate your health and body to determine where your fat deposits lie and assess the condition of your skin. After explaining the various body-contouring methods, the doctor will recommend the most suitable method for you. If the doctor has a completely different solution for tackling the flaw you are trying to fix, remember to ask questions regarding effectiveness, safety, costs and recovery time. It is very common for a patient to go in for a liposuction consultation and end up scheduling an appointment for a tummy tuck instead. Try to listen to your doctor and, if you need a second or third opinion, please know that you are entitled to do so.

PREPARATION
Closely follow the doctor’s instructions, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding vitamins, iron tablets and certain medications. If you get sick or develop an infection of any kind, especially a skin infection, inform the doctor right away. In some cases, the surgery could get postponed until you are in a healthier condition. Occassionally, a doctor might recommend that blood is drawn ahead of time because it might possibly be needed during surgery. Be sure to have someone drive you home after the procedure. Driving is not possible after any liposuction procedure since the anesthesia is still in your system.
Liposuction procedures can occur in the doctor’s office-based facility, in an outpatient surgery center, or in a hospital.

ANESTHESIA
The doctor will help you select the safest and most effective type of anesthesia since people respond differently to the various kinds.
- Liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia if the amount of fat is small and there are limited number of body sites. Since local anethesia only numbs the affected areas, patients usually request the addition of an intravenous sedation in order to relax and/or sleep during the entire procedure.
- Regional anesthesia can be a good choice for more extensive procedures. One type of regional anesthesia is the epidural block, similar to the one used in childbirth.
- Some patients prefer general anesthesia, especially if a large volume of fat is being removed. For those under general anesthesia, a nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist will be called in to ensure that you remain asleep throughout the entire surgery.

LIPOSUCTION SURGERY
The time required to perform liposuction will vary depending on the scope of the surgery including size of area, amount of fat being removed, and type of anesthesia. There are several liposuction techniques that can be used to improve the ease of the procedure and to enhance outcome.
Liposuction is a procedure in which localized deposits of fat are removed to re-contour one or more areas of the body. Through tiny incisions, a saline solution is introduced then, a narrow tube called a cannula is inserted and used to vacuum the fat layer that lies beneath the skin. The cannula is pushed then pulled through the fat layer, breaking up the fat cells and suctioning them out. The suction is produced by a vacuum pump or a large syringe. If multiple areas are being treated, the doctor will then move on to the next area, ensuring incisions are kept as inconspicuous as possible. Fluid is injected but it gets lost along with the fat. Patients need to be carefully monitored and receive intravenous fluids during and immediately after surgery in order to keep the fluid balanced.

RISKS
Liposuction is usually a safe procedure as long as the operating facility is properly equipped and the physician is adequately trained. It is important to select a doctor you can trust who makes you feel comfortable. PLEASE do not forget to research your doctor as well as the procedures that you are interested in. It’s important to keep in mind that having a well-trained surgeon and a state-of-the art facility can greatly reduce the amount of risk involved, there are no guarantees. Complications may arise in rare cases. The risk increases if many areas are being treated at the same time, or if the operating site is a larger size. The scars from liposuction are small and a good doctor will strategically hide the scars or inform you ahead of time if he cannot. However, imperfections in the final appearance are not uncommon. The skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric or even appear baggy, especially in older patient with less skin elasticity. Numbness and pigmentation changes are also a risk factor. Sometimes, additional surgery, including tucks, may be necessary to achieve the goal.

POST-SURGERY
After surgery, most people experience some fluid drainage from the incisions. Sometimes, the doctor might insert a small drainage tube beneath the skin for 2 days or so to prevent fluid build up. You may be asked to wear a fitted piece of elastic over the affected area for a few weeks in order to control swelling and to help your skin better fit its new contours. We may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
Don’t expect to look or feel great right after surgery. Some experience pain, burning, swelling, bleeding and temporary numbness after surgery. Most people do not complain of significant pain but rather an achy feeling like they’ve been to the gym three times in one day. This can be controlled with medication, though you may still feel stiff and sore for a few days.
It is normal to feel a bit anxious or depressed in the days or weeks following surgery. However, this feeling will subside as you begin to look and feel better.

RECOVERY
The healing process is very gradual and you must take it easy. It is important to walk around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. Use caution and move around at your own pace but make that effort. You should be able to go back to work a few days after surgery and you should feel better after a week or two. The stitches are removed or dissolve on their own within the 7-10 days. Avoid strenuous activity and understand that swelling may remain for six months or more in some people. Schedule follow-up visits with your doctor to monitor your progress and to see if any additional procedures are needed.
If you have any unusual symptoms between visits such as heavy bleeding or a sudden increase in pain, or have any questions about what you can and can’t do, simlply call your doctor. You will notice a difference in the shape of your body soon after surgery. However, due to swelling, you may not see a major change until after about six weeks. Within 3-6 months, most mild swelling usually disappears and the final contour will be visible.

It is important to be realistic about the achievements of liposuction prior to surgery. Move forward with liposuction understanding that liposuction can help you feel better about your body but no amount of surgery will change how you feel inside. You may feel more confident with your body and find that clothing just fits with more ease. Maintain your new shape by sticking to a healthy diet and exercising regularly.

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