Liposuction is a procedure, which removes excess fat deposits, and is one of the most popular forms of cosmetic surgery performed. The procedure itself is considered relatively straightforward and safe. Fifteen to twenty small incisions are made in the targeted area into which a number of small tubes called cannula are then inserted. The cannula is aggressively pushed through and around the fat deposits, breaking up the fat cells for easy removal with a vacuum technique. There are several types of liposuction procedures which are defined by the amount of fluid injected into the body before the start of surgery.
Dry liposuction was the earliest form of this procedure and was developed in the 1970s. This method injects no fluid into the body. This is more painful for the patient and therefore a general anesthesia is required. Dry liposuction is considered a much riskier procedure than newer techniques. It often results in severe blood loss and complications such as denting of the skin. The use of the dry technique is rare and is usually replaced by the more popular wet methods of liposuction.
Wet and Super Wet Liposuction
A safer technique was developed in the 1980s and is referred to as wet liposuction.
During wet liposuction, six to eight ounces of fluid is injected under the skin prior to the procedure. Before the surgery begins, the surgeon will flush the area of the body being targeted with a solution consisting of lidocaine, saline, and epinephrine. This solution will act as a local anesthesia and will help constrict the blood vessels decreasing the blood lost during liposuction. The injection is done regardless of the volume of total fat being extracted.
Doctors soon discovered that the more fluid that was injected the less blood was lost, up to a point. This is because the fat deposits become easier to break up, and the addition of the fluid reduces overall trauma to the surrounding tissues, decreasing swelling and making recovery less painful in most cases. With this knowledge came the development of the super wet technique.
Using this technique one cubic centimeter of solution is injected for every one cubic centimeter of total volume of aspirate removed. Aspirate being defined as tissue and fluid. During wet and super wet liposuction most patients will receive a general anesthesia or even an epidural, despite the fact that lidocaine is usually present in the solution.
Often time’s adrenaline is included in the injected fluids. Adrenaline also aids in the reduction of bleeding and promotes faster recovery and healing times.
Another popular technique is the tumescent technique. During tumescent liposuction surgery much more solution is injected. There is often five times more fluid than aspirate removed. Since the fluid contains large amounts of lidocaine, only local anesthesia is usually needed, unlike with other liposuction techniques.
The popularity of wet liposuction has led to technological advances resulting in innovative techniques to perform the surgery.
Laser assisted liposuction uses a concentrated laser tuned to a specific frequency to break up fat cells for easy extraction. In addition ultrasound assisted liposuction is becoming increasingly popular. This technique uses a special cannula that rapidly vibrates and uses ultrasonic waves to liquefy the fat cells to be removed. The ultrasound waves can be administered above or below the skin, and the motorized cannula is forty percent faster than their manual counterparts are.
As with all surgeries, the decision to have liposuction is a personal one. Patients should do plenty of research to pick a technique that is right for them.