What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a procedure that involves the removal (aspiration) of fat from various parts of the body. The goal of liposuction is to remove excess collections of fat from persistent or tough to target areas of the body.

Areas commonly treated with liposuction include the abdomen (tummy), flanks (love handles), thighs, buttocks, back, arms, and chin.

Who is a suitable candidate for liposuction?

While liposuction is a very effective procedure for removing difficult or persistent collections of fat, it is not intended to be a weight loss tool. The ideal liposuction candidate should have maintained a stable weight and should have a normal body mass index (BMI).

Furthermore, skin quality has a direct impact on the success of the procedure. The ideal candidate should have good skin quality, which means minimal stretch marks and minimal skin laxity or excess. Patients who have concerns with their skin quality may not see the benefits from this procedure, but may be candidates for other procedures (i.e. tummy tuck, arm lift, thigh lift).

What are the goals of liposuction surgery?

In combination with a healthy lifestyle, liposuction will help contour areas of the body that contain fat deposits that are tough to lose.

What is done during liposuction surgery?

Your surgeon will meet with you before the procedure to confirm the target areas for the liposuction. The surgeon may mark these areas prior to being taken into the operating room. Liposuction is typically performed under general anesthesia, though in certain cases it can be done with sedation. This will be up to the discretion of your surgeon and anesthetist.

During surgery, the target areas are infiltrated with a fluid solution that assists with fat removal while, at the same time, limiting pain and bleeding. Following infiltration, the next step is the removal of the fat. Using a series of metal cannulas, multiple controlled passes are made through each target area(s) to break down the connections of the fat below the skin, remove the fat from those areas, and contour the remaining skin and fatty tissue.

Will there be scars?

Liposuction is performed through multiple small (4 to 5 mm) incisions that are strategically placed to allow maximal fat removal while optimizing the contour and making the scars inconspicuous. These incisions typically heal very well with minimal scarring.

Where is the surgery performed?

All surgeries are performed at Women’s College Hospital as day surgery by the plastic surgery senior resident under the supervision of a faculty plastic surgeon.

What to expect in the recovery? How long will I be off work? When can I resume exercise?

The procedure itself can take from 1 to 3 hours depending on how much work is required. This is typically a day surgery procedure, and as such you will be sent home on the day of your procedure. Your surgeon will provide you with a prescription for pain medication, as well as instructions in regards to dressings, activity, and showering.

For the best results, you should plan on resting and taking it easy after surgery. For the first few days following the procedure, you may notice some drainage from the surgical areas. This is normal and expected. Bruising is an expected side-effect of this procedure, and it may spread beyond the treated areas. This bruising typically lasts 2 to 3 weeks, and it will slowly fade over that time. Swelling of the liposuctioned areas can persist for 4 to 6 weeks, and sometimes longer. As such, the final result of the procedure may not be known for 3 to 6 months.

Most patients find that they return to light activity (eg. walking) within a few days of the procedure, and are back to work within a week or so. You should refrain from strenuous activity (eg. exercise, heavy lifting) for a period of 4 weeks following surgery.

For the first few days after surgery, most patients experience some discomfort at the surgical site. After which you will starting feeling better and returning to your normal self. You should plan on being off work for 2 weeks. During your recovery, you should refrain from strenuous physical activity including lifting and pulling for 6 weeks following surgery.

What are some common complications of surgery?

Following your surgery, you will see swelling and bruising which is normal and will resolve. You might initially gain weight due to water and fluid retention. Tightness and pain along your scar line and along the muscles of your abdomen can also occur. No surgical procedure is without risk. These can vary from the simplest complication to more serious and we will discuss potential risks with you during our meeting. Complications of liposuction, like those of other cosmetic procedures, are uncommon but may include unfavorable scarring, asymmetries, contour irregularities, bleeding, infection, swelling, numbness, and blood clots in the leg. These may require additional treatment. Problems such as infection or bleeding may require additional surgery.

When will I see the final results of the surgery?

You will begin to see some of the results of the surgery once the swelling has gone down which takes about 2 months. Final results after surgery including healing of the scar will be seen at 1 year following liposuction.