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Liposuction (or lipoplasty/liposculpture)

  • Last modified date:
    8 February 2007

Purpose:

To reshape areas of the body with fatty deposits that are resistant to a healthy diet and exercise

The treatment:

This procedure should be carried out by a surgeon with relevant skills and experience in an establishment registered with the Healthcare Commission

Liposuction is a surgical procedure that can take place under either a local or general anaesthetic. The length of the treatment will depend on the technique chosen and the amount of fat to be removed - but it can take up to two hours.

With basic liposuction, the surgeon will make a small incision in the skin, and then use a hollow metal tube called a cannula to break up the fat cells beneath the skin. The fat is then sucked out with a syringe or a vacuum pump.  

Alternatively, there are several other techniques they may use. These include the injection of fluid or use of ultrasonic rays to break up the fat before it is sucked out. Once the desired amount of fat has been sucked out the incisions are stitched up.

There may be temporary bruising, swelling and pain following surgery.  You will need to wear a special elastic garment for about a week after surgery. You may be required to take a few days off work to rest and the sutures will probably be removed after 7 days.

The results:

Liposuction permanently removes fat cells to alter body shape

The risks:

General risks associated with surgery - see Considering cosmetic surgery?

Liposuction can lead to numbness, nerve damage, unevenness in the area treated and scarring. Patients who have ultrasound-assisted liposuction also risk internal and external burning.

Before you start:

You may wish to dry diet and exercise before considering liposuction. Liposuction does not stop you gaining weight in the future, so is not an alternative to dieting and exercise. Liposuction is also not a treatment for cellulite.

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