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Liposculpture

Published:
17/02/2017
Author:
Dr Sawjin Tew

Commonly, liposculpture refers to the operation, while liposuction is the technique. 

The liposuction technique is very straightforward. Tiny incisions are made at the site where fat is to be removed from, and a solution is infused to provide anaesthesia, reduce bleeding, and improve fat extraction. Hollow tubular instruments of various sizes are used to extract the fat. The cannula is attached to suction tubing through which the fat is then removed. Knowing how much to leave behind is a guide to how much fat should be removed, and this is a joint decision between the patient and the surgeon and what is achievable based on the surgeon’s aesthetic judgement and experience. 

Indications

The common reasons for liposuction are bulges of fat in the legs, especially in the outer thigh areas known as ‘saddle bags’, buttocks, waist and abdomen, breast, lateral chest wall, back, upper arms, neck and overdeveloped male breasts.

Liposuction is also used to improve the body contour at sites of previous trauma and as an adjunct to other plastic surgery operations such as abdominoplasty and breast reduction.

The benefit of liposuction is the achievement of change in body shape with minimal incision sites.

It is important to have realistic expectations of the results of liposuction. Older patients who have skin that has lost its elasticity are more prone to rippling, dimpling and loose skin after liposuction. Liposuction does not improve muscle tone either, as muscle tone can be improved by exercise. If a patient gains weight after liposuction, the procedure may need to be repeated. If the patient loses weight, excess skin may need to be trimmed in a subsequent procedure. Other factors that impact on body shape include fluid retention caused by other medical problems, so that may need to be investigated first. Also, sometimes a large abdomen is male patients is due to intestinal fat deep in the abdomen, rather than superficial fat in the tummy wall, so it cannot be treated by liposuction.

Recovery

The recovery phase takes several weeks. In the first week after liposuction, the patient would experience bruising and ooze from the incisions. It is important to wear the compression garment for several weeks to help shape the areas that have been treated by liposuction. The garment also helps to control swelling which settles slowly over several weeks. The discomfort from liposuction is moderate and usually settles in the first fortnight. 

Liposuction is not without risks. There are general risks associated with any surgery such as wound infection, excessive bleeding, blood clot in the legs, chest problems or sore throat associated with anaesthesia. Specific to liposuction is loose skin after liposuction, differential weight gain affecting the result of liposuction in the future, temporary loss of sensation, and extremely rarely fat globules travelling to the lungs. Hence good general health is important before proceeding with liposuction.

Overall, liposuction is a useful surgical technique and is a niche in plastic surgery practice.

Cost

Varies from $4000 to $8000 depending on areas to be treated.

Sawjin Tew

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