Weight Loss With Liposuction

Liposuction is more of a body sculpting procedure than a weight loss procedure, but it can be used for weight loss to some extent.  You will definitely lose weight by having fat removed from your body, and you will also have a higher muscle to fat ratio at the end of the procedure which will help you lose weight since muscle burns more calories than fat.  Over the past few years, there have been several different forms of liposuction,  but the longest standing liposuction procedure has used tumescent solution.

With the traditional tumescent solution liposuction procedure, the provider will introduce the tumescent solution into the area(s) that is (are) to be suctioned.  The tumescent solution consists of xylocaine (a local anesthetic), epinephrine (which constricts vessels to reduce bleeding), and sodium bicarbonate mixed in normal saline.  The provider will inject a small amount of xylocaine in the skin overlying the area he intends to suction, and will then make a small stab incision in the skin.  This will allow him to place a long, fine, blunt needle into the fat underlying the skin.  The provider will allow the tumescent solution to mix with the fat for a few minutes, and then introduce a cannula to suction the fat.  The cannulas come in different sizes and have different tips on the ends.  The provider will use the cannula suited to your body and to your expected results.  The procedure can be done under conscious sedation so general anesthesia can be avoided.

A variation on the traditional liposuction procedure is the ultrasound assisted liposuction which can be used to liquefy the fat.  The fat is then suctioned with a cannula.  Laser assisted liposuction can also be used which again liquefies the fat and prepares the fat for liposuction.

Of the above procedures, the traditional liposuction using tumescent solution is the least expensive, and has excellent results.  The stab incisions are left open at the end of the liposuction procedure so that the tumescent solution mixed with fat will continue to drain over the next few days.  Your provider may suggest using large plastic garbage bags or plastic sheets to cover your bed or car seat in order to avoid getting the drainage on these items.

There will be some bruising associated with the procedure.  This is an important point to note if you are having liposuction in the neck area as you may not want to immediately appear in public.  Bruising in other areas like the abdomen, back, legs, and arms can be covered with clothing.  Your provider will place you in a compression garment at the end of the procedure so that the skin will reattach itself to the underlying tissue.  You might consider having an extra compression garment so that you can wear one while washing the other.  Incidentally, hydrogen peroxide works quite well in removing blood stains.

LIposuction will immediately change your body contour, but the final results will not be visible for a few weeks.  It takes several weeks for the inflammation associated with the procedure to dissipate.

As with all surgical procedures, discuss the risks and benefits of liposuction carefully with your provider.  The traditional risks of hemorrhage, infection, injury to another organ system, and death apply although the risks are small with this procedure.  Still, I have heard of deaths occurring from liposuction due to bleeding.  In one case, a major vessel was penetrated.  Major vessels should not be affected with liposuction because liposuction is a relatively superficial procedure, but there is a slim possibility.  I have also heard of the intestines being perforated due to the cannula entering the abdomen.  Again, this should not happen.  There is also the risk of the skin overlying the liposuction area to slough off due to extensive interruption of the blood supply.  Again, this risk is rare.

Exercise and sensible eating are still the cornerstones for weight loss.  But liposuction may be convenient for those areas where the fat simply refuses to go away.

Wishing you continued success with your weight loss and maintenance, Pablo

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