Two Common Methods
Two of the more common methods of lipoplasty are:
Tumescent liposuction (Fluid injection): Considered the safest and most effective method with the quickest recovery time, a medicated saline solution of lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine (a drug that constricts blood vessels) is injected into fatty tissue before liposuction. The solution makes the fat expand and become more firm, allowing the cannula to move more smoothly under the skin. The medicated solution also greatly reduces blood loss and provides anesthesia during and after the surgery, thereby cutting down on the risks associated with traditional liposuction. This form of liposuction also cuts down on bruising, swelling, and pain after the procedure.
Ultrasound-assisted (ultrasonic) liposuction (UAL): This technique uses a special cannula that produces ultrasonic energy. (This is called "internal" UAL.) The energy explodes the walls of fats cells, liquefying the fat before it is removed. Once fat has been liquefied, the cannula can move around more easily. This technique may be particularly useful for areas where fat is very firm or fibrous (for example, the sides, back, and the area around the navel; also, male breasts). "External" UAL, performed with a vibrating machine applied to the outside of the skin before liposuction, may also be used.
Pain Level/Recovery Time: Following surgery, the part of the body that was treated is tightly wrapped to help reduce bruising, swelling, and pain. Elastic bandages and tape or tight-fitting garments may also be used. Patients may have to wear these compression garments for a week or more. Following tumescent liposuction, fluid may drain from the incision sites for several days. Antibiotics may be used to fight infection. Some patients experience pain, burning, swelling, bleeding, and temporary numbness. Stitches are removed or will dissolve within a week to 10 days. Scars are usually small and hidden from view. Most people can return to their normal routines within one to two weeks. Larger procedures require longer recovery periods. Some results may be noticeable right away after surgery, but improvement will continue for weeks or months as swelling subsides.
Skin may be loose in treated areas after fat has been removed. It may take six months for the skin to tighten or retract. The skin of younger people tends to have more elasticity than older skin and "bounces back" more quickly. However, the skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric, or even "baggy," especially in older patients. Sometimes additional surgery is recommended.
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