Liposuction, also known as "lipoplasty" or "suction lipectomy", is a cosmetic surgery that helps shape the body by extracting unwanted fat from certain "trouble spots" - such as the abdomen, waist, hips, buttocks, upper arms, thighs, knees, cheeks, chin and the neck.
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Liposuction is one of the most popular plastic surgeries performed in North America because it removes obstinate areas of fat that don't respond to traditional weight-loss methods. Despite its success, the best way to approach liposuction is with realistic expectations. It's a common myth that obese people can easily undergo liposuction surgery to shed half of their weight. In reality successful liposuction candidates are individuals at or very close to their ideal weights with firm, elastic skin and pockets of excess fat only in certain trouble areas.
If only a small amount of fat is being removed, liposuction is performed under local anesthesia, which numbs only the fatty deposits. If a large amount of fat is being removed patients are put to sleep with a general anesthetic. During the liposuction procedure an inconspicuous incision is made to the fatty area and a narrow tube (called a "cannula") is inserted. The cannula vacuums and breaks down the fat layers deep beneath the skin. Once the fat is broken down a vacuum pump or a large syringe is used to suck it out. The incisions require stitches. Normally, the stitches will dissolve on their own within 10 days post-surgery.
Although liposuction is a relatively safe procedure when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon, minor risks do exist. For example, as fluids and fat are sucked out of the body, patients need to receive adequate intravenous fluids to prevent shock. In addition, even though age isn't a major concern when undergoing liposuction, elderly patients may have difficulties achieving the same results and healing times of young patient due to skin elasticity. Individuals with medical problems including diabetes, heart or lung disease and poor blood circulation are risky candidates for liposuction.