In my last post, I discussed the dramatic effect that liposuction can have on shedding (or transferring) excess fat. Here, I’ll get into what exactly the procedure entails, what the recovery’s like, and how long you can expect the results from liposuction to last.
How it works
There are several variations on the technique, each aimed at reducing tissue damage and shortening recovery time, but the most traditional—and widely-performed—form of liposuction is called tumescent liposuction. With this particular technique, the plastic surgeon makes one or more small incisions (a quarter inch or less) in the targeted area and injects a mixture of saline, lidocaine, and epinephrine into the tissue. The fluid will make the fat easier to remove. It also will constrict the blood vessels, which will help minimize bruising, blood loss, and recovery time.
From there, the board-certified plastic surgeon will insert a thin tube called a cannula through the same incision and pass it back and forth under the skin to break up the fat before suctioning it out.
The procedure can last anywhere from a half-hour for a very small area to up to four hours when it includes much of the torso. “Does it hurt?” is a question that comes up often during the consultation. Depending on the extent of your liposuction, you’ll either be under general anesthesia or sedated, so you shouldn’t feel a thing during the procedure itself.
What the recovery’s like
You can expect to feel sore for the first few days after the surgery. There may also be some swelling or bruising. Generally, it’s a good idea to set aside about a week to rest before heading back to work. You’ll be prescribed a pain medication, but ibuprofen is often more than enough to remedy any discomfort.
As the swelling subsides, the treated area (or areas) may appear a little lumpy. That will improve after a few weeks. Many plastic surgeons will recommend that you wear a compression garment as you recover, which can not only help prevent any lumps from forming it’ll also help minimize the swelling and bruising and speed up the healing process.
When you’ll see the results
You should be able to notice the improvement in your silhouette right after the procedure, even with the swelling. As you heal, the results will continue to improve for up to a year after the procedure.
What often starts as a humble desire to simply fit better in their pants, for many, evolves into the impetus to kickstart a healthier lifestyle, once the dramatic results become evident. And, as long as that new weight is maintained, the results will last.
Even in cases where some or all of the weight is gained back, the treated area will still look better than if you’d never had liposuction. In a recent study of people who underwent the procedure and gained the weight back, they still reported being very happy with their results.