What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is one of the most common plastic surgery procedures performed in the United States for both women and men. Liposuction has evolved over the past 20 years from a somewhat primitive and painful procedure to one that is refined and effective in most body areas. Dr. Andrew Trussler specializes in Liposuction for both men and women in Austin, Pflugerville, Round Rock, Buda, Georgetown, Bee Cave and the sourounding areas.
Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure used to remove localized areas of fat through a small thin tube called a cannula. Energy application at the tip of the cannula, either through manually breaking up fat with standard suction assisted (SAL) or power-assisted liposuction (PAL), or heating the fat through ultrasonic energy (UAL) or laser light energy (LAL), each liposuction technique can refine, flatten and sculpt the body. Dr. Trussler of Austin, Texas offers multiple liposuction techniques, and with his experience, he can deliver safe and immediate results.
What Are My Liposuction Options?
The evolution of liposuction is attributed to the advances in science and technology. No longer is whole body liposuction safe, but large cannulas run a high risk of leaving contour deformities and even worse complications. Modern liposuction can be applied to most body areas, though ideally performed on focal fat deposits in the healthy patient.
The ideal liposuction patient has a persistent area of fat that does not go away with diet and exercise. Typically for men, it is their lower abdomen and for women their lower waistline and hips. There multiple types of liposuction (see below) and multiple methods of application, including liposuction performed awake with local anesthetic (tumescent) or in the operating room either as a stand-alone procedure or part of an excisional procedure like a tummy tuck.
Suction Assisted Liposuction (SAL)
Suction Assisted Liposuction (SAL) breaks up fat and suctions it out through varying sizes of perforated long hollow tubes called cannulas. SAL is typically a component of each other type of liposuction technique.
Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL)
Power Assisted Liposuction (PAL) utilizes a vibrating tip to help break up fat and it is suction through the same cannula.
Water Assisted Liposuction (WAL)
Water Assisted Liposuction (WAL) utilizes sterile saline spray to help break up fat deposits commonly recycled for fat injections in the same patient.
Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction (UAL)
Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction (UAL) utilizes ultrasound energy to help heat and destroy fat cells which are then suction through SAL technique.
Laser Assisted Liposuction (LAL)
Laser Assisted Liposuction (LAL) utilizes laser light energy to help heat and destroy fat cells which are then suction through SAL technique.
Considerations of Liposuction
Liposuction can be used to treat localized fat deposits within the:
- Thighs: inner and outer
- Abdomen: to provide definition and a flatter stomach
- Arms: commonly upper arms
- Back: upper and lower back liposuction can decrease back folds and bra strap folds.
- Hips: to provide a slimmer silhouette
- Buttocks: to provide n improved profile and is commonly performed with central buttock fat grafting.
- Chest: for male chest contouring
- Face: to improve the jawline and neck contour
This procedure may be performed alone or can be combined with other cosmetic procedures, such as a tummy tuck, thigh lift, or even a facelift to provide refinements to these common procedures. Safety in liposuction is of the utmost importance and patients should be healthy, in good physical condition, on a stable regimen of diet and exercise, and non-smoking.
Who is a good candidate for liposuction?
There is a misconception that liposuction is a weight-loss procedure, but this is not the case. In fact, removing too much fat at one time can be dangerous. Liposuction is meant to remove pockets of unwanted fat that are resistant to changes in diet and exercise. Dr. Trussler wants his liposuction patients to be within 10-15 percent of their ideal body weight before having this procedure.
Good candidates for liposuction need the skin at the treatment sites to have good elasticity. This will allow the skin to tighten down to the new slimmer contour once some of the underlying fat is removed.
Expectations for Liposuction
The ideal candidate for liposuction in Austin is someone who is in good overall health and maintains a healthy life but has one or more problem areas that are unresponsive to weight loss and exercise. It is also important for patients to have realistic expectations, and remember that liposuction cannot be used as a means for major weight loss. It is instead most effective at removing localized areas of stubborn fat that the patient has struggled to lose.
Liposuction in Austin, Texas is typically performed on an outpatient basis under deep sedation or general anesthesia. Small areas of liposuction can be performed in the office under local anesthesia using a tumescent technique. Dr. Trussler will make several tiny incisions and inject a local anesthetic into the area to numb, expand, and firm the area of fatty deposits, making it easier to remove.
The liposuction cannula is then inserted through the incisions to either apply energy or suction out the fat. The amount of fat removed is systematically recorded to help ensure symmetry, and visual and palpable inspection is used to determine if enough suctioning is done in each region. Stitches are typically used to approximate the small incisions to help scars heal in a fine line. Compression garments and foam padding are placed on the areas of liposuction to hold the contour in place and avoid collections of fluid.
What are the risks involved with liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure despite the fact that it doesn’t involve large incisions. It involves the risks of any surgery: excessive bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, and the like. These are all rare with liposuction.
No matter the method, there are some specific complications with liposuction:
- Contour irregularities — The treated area can appear bumpy or wavy. If the patient has inelastic skin, this is more prevalent.
- Numbness — Any numbness in the area is usually temporary, but it can endure.
- Fluid accumulation — Temporary pockets of fluid (called seromas) can form. These may need to be drained.
All in all, liposuction is a very popular and satisfying procedure for Dr. Trussler’s patients, and risks are minimal.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare for liposuction?
Although liposuction is not an overly invasive procedure compared to what it used to be, patients still need to follow the pre-procedure protocols for surgery. This means not smoking for two weeks prior to your procedure and for at least two weeks after. You’ll need to stop taking aspirin or other medications or supplements that can reduce the ability of your blood to clot. This will limit your bruising. You should prepare your house for a few days of laying low. You’ll be able to walk and get about, but you probably won’t feel like going to the store or doing other chores for a few days.
After the liposuction procedure, patients may experience mild swelling, bruising and discomfort in the treated area. Compression garments or elastic bandages may be used to help reduce these symptoms over the first week to three weeks. Patients can return to work and other regular activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually after a few days. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks.
Dr. Trussler will give you special instructions on how to care for your treated area and encourage the healing process after liposuction. Results may not be visible until after swelling and bruising subside, but are usually noticeable in the days following the procedure. It does usually take about 3 weeks for swelling to subside, and the ultimate result is appreciated after diet and exercise are resumed.
The results of liposuction can be long-lasting, as long as patients maintain a healthy and active life. If substantial weight is gained after this procedure, the results may be altered, but commonly fat is deposited in other areas of the body.
When can I resume exercising after liposuction?
The methods used by Dr. Trussler significantly decrease recovery times over those used just five or so years ago. Still, you’ll have some limitations. You’ll be able to perform light physical activity just one or two days after your procedure. This includes easy walking. Think of maybe 25 percent of your usual pace and intensity.
Light aerobic exercise can start two days after your liposuction, but you’ll need to wait three weeks or so to return to higher impact aerobic activities such as running. Resistance exercise can begin the second week after surgery. Listen to your body and see how it reacts. What you can tolerate is also dependent upon the area or areas you had treated.
Dr. Trussler will discuss timelines with you during your consultation and after your liposuction is complete.
*Disclaimer: Results and patient experience may vary
How does liposuction differ from a tummy tuck? »
Tummy tucks and liposuction often target the lower abdomen, but they are dramatically different procedures. When a patient has one procedure versus the other often comes down to the elasticity of the skin on the abdomen.
A tummy tuck involves one or two incisions. The first incision stretches from hipbone to hipbone, dipping down so that the scar can be covered by underwear or a bikini bottom. The skin is separated from the underlying muscles and support tissue. Often the stomach muscles have become separated, especially when a woman has been pregnant and had a child or children. These muscles are brought back to the center and sutured together. This slims the contour. Then the skin is pulled downward and excess, sagging skin is trimmed. The incision is then closed. For a full tummy tuck, a second incision is made through the navel or adjacent to it. This allows for similar attention to be given to the area above the navel. Tummy tucks involve large scars and lengthy recovery periods.
Liposuction, although technically still surgery, is almost non-invasive in comparison. The incisions used to introduce the cannula to suction out the fat are tiny and usually don’t even require stitches. Liposuction removes pockets of unwanted fat, but doesn’t address separated muscles. It also doesn’t trim away excess sagging skin.
Liposuction is great for patients who only have minimal sagging skin because the skin will need to tighten down to the new slimmer contours. Tummy tucks are better procedures for patients with lots of sagging skin and possibly separated muscles in the abdomen.
What happens if I gain weight after liposuction? »
Liposuction permanently removes fat cells. They are gone for good. If you don’t gain a ton of weight, you will not build new fat cells and you will maintain your results for the remainder of your life. It’s important to mind your eating and lifestyle choices if you want to truly benefit from your new slimmer contour for the long haul. If you gain weight, the weight doesn’t usually initially build in the areas treated, as many of the fat cells have been removed. But other fat cells can expand and if you gain enough weight new fat cells can be created.Once most patients see their new slimmer contour, they want to make the necessary lifestyle changes to maintain them.
- Trussler AP, Tabbal GN. Patient Safety in Plastic Surgery. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Sep;130(3): 470e-8e.