What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a technique to reshape the body by permanently removing localized fatty deposits. It is a surgical procedure that uses a suction technique to remove fat from specific areas of the body. Areas that are suitable for treatment include abdomen, buttocks, thighs, upper arms, under chin, neck, chest and back.
It is important to know that liposuction is not a cure for obesity. It should not be regarded as a tool for weight loss as it only targets specific areas for treatment. Liposuction will also not improve skin surface irregularities such as cellulite dimpling or stretch marks.
Types of Liposuction
There are many different liposuction techniques available today. The main difference between each type of liposuction is the technology used to assist the fat removal process. Different practitioners will prefer a certain technique depending on the nature of the procedure. It is important to know that the skills and experience of the doctor performing liposuction will make the biggest difference in your results.
Below are some of the types of liposuction more commonly used today:
This is a simple liposuction technique used to remove small areas of fat under local anaesthesia, such as the neck and chin. This technique is also used to harvest fat for processing and re-injection as fat grafting as it is the known method where fat cells are least damaged.
This is a power-assisted liposuction technique and uses suction cannula which has a small motor, which is similar to a blender. The cannula is inserted into the areas to be treated through small incisions. This motor causes the cannula to move forward and back (reciprocating motion) breaking the fat deposits and making it easier to perform liposuction.
This technique utilises ultrasound energy to liquefy fat cells allowing for easier removal of fat with less trauma caused to the patient and less physical effort involved by the surgeon. This results in more targeted and precise body contouring ensuring a more defined and aesthetically pleasing body shape.
How is the procedure performed?
Liposuction is an outpatient procedure and can be safely performed using local anesthesia. Though liposuction is performed through different techniques, the procedural steps remain the same.
The liposuction procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 – Administering Anesthesia
Before the procedure, the Doctor will mark the precise areas of the body where the fats are to be removed.
A local anesthetic such as, lidocaine is diluted and injected into the targeted areas, also known as tumescence anaesthesia. The targeted tissue becomes firm and easy to remove. This technique reduces risk and prevents blood loss. However, patients who are allergic to lidocaine may not be suitable for this technique.
Step 2 – Placement of Incisions
After anesthesia is administered, tiny incisions are made in the targeted area. The size of these incisions typically ranges between a quarter or third of an inch. The aim to keep the incisions discreet in the natural skin creases or other hidden sites to minimise any future scarring.
Step 3 – Removal of Excess Fat
A thin, narrow tube known as a cannula is inserted into the deeper layers of fat through the incisions to break up stubborn fatty deposits and sculpt the area to the desired proportions. The unwanted fats are then suctioned out of the body with a high-pressure vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula. Sometimes, techniques such as ultrasound, laser or RF energy are used at this stage to make the process of fat removal more targeted and less invasive.
On average, the procedure takes 45-60 mins per area treated.
Step 4 – Incision Closure
Upon completion of the procedure, the incisions are closed with absorbable sutures. The sutures will typically be removed in around seven to ten days after the procedure.
What to expect after liposuction?
Bruising and swelling is normal following liposuction and should start to subside after 7-10 days. However, every patient heals differently, therefore, recovery can take 12 weeks or longer. Because of this it can take several weeks to months to see the full extent of the results of the procedure.
When a person gains weight, each fat cell increases in size. During liposuction, the fat cells in a specific area are permanently removed and this alters the shape of the body. It is important to note, however, if a patient does not maintain a healthy lifestyle after liposuction, the remaining fat cells will grow bigger.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a good candidate for liposuction?
The ideal patient for liposuction is someone who has a stable body weight below the obese range (Body Mass Index, BMI <30) but has stubborn fatty deposits in particular areas that have not responded to diet and exercise.
Will the fats removed during liposuction return somewhere else in my body at a later stage?
The fats that have been removed will not return at the same location or somewhere else. However, if you do not maintain your diet or exercise regime, the remaining fat cells can increase in size and you could lose the effect from the liposuction.
Is liposuction safe?
Generally, liposuction is considered a safe procedure. However, like all surgical procedures, there are risks associated with liposuction-. The potential complications may include bruising, swelling, numbness, asymmetry (of the area where liposuction was performed).
How long will recovery take?
Each person’s recovery is different, depending on how much fat is removed and from which area. This can take anywhere from 5 to 7 days before being able to return to work and 4 to 6 weeks before resuming physical activities, such as exercise.
How much fat can be removed with liposuction?
The amount of fat that can be removed in an area during a single procedure will vary depending on a variety of factors, including the assessment of the patient’s health and his or her aesthetic goals.
Does liposuction leave loose skin?
Liposuction itself generally does not cause sagging skin. The final results of liposuction may not take place until months after the procedure. In fact, some liposuction techniques can lead to some skin tightening and contracture.
Is liposuction painful?
Local anesthetic is used to ensure comfort throughout the procedure. During the immediate recovery following liposuction, there may be some swelling, pain and discomfort. Most people report feeling sore in the areas treated and this will be most intense 2-4 days after the procedure. The area can feel tender for up to 4 weeks but this will gradually subside.
Are there any alternatives to liposuction?
While liposuction remains the gold-standard surgical treatment for excess subcutaneous fat, nonsurgical treatment options, such as cryolipolysis, continue to gain popularity among patients seeking less invasive measures. Patients undergoing cryolipolysis procedure should note that multiple treatment sessions may be necessary to achieve the best results.
Before and After Photos
In compliance with MOH guidelines in Singapore, we are not allowed to post before-and-after images on our website and social media platforms. However, we are more than willing to share such images for your perusal during your in-clinic consultation with us.