Liposuction is one of the most common cosmetic surgeries in the United States, with more than 400,000 performed annually. The procedure involves eliminating fat deposits from localized areas of the body, such as the abdomen, thighs, backside and hips, through a small opening attached to a vacuum machine. Tumescent liposuction, a type of liposuction that involves first infusing the treatment area with large volumes of saline water, is especially popular due to its safety and fast recovery period. A newer type of liposuction, SmartLipo, uses a wire-sized laser to liquefy fat and tighten skin, leading to an even quicker, less painful recovery. Liposuction is proven to be effective. Like all procedures, there are certain risks and complications involved, but when performed by an experienced, board-certified cosmetic surgeon, it is considered a safe method for unwanted fat removal.
With the popularity of liposuction, we have seen an onslaught of unqualified physicians or unlicensed individuals with no medical experience offering liposuction in specialized “practices,” or day spas. These facilities often offer steep discounts or “lunchtime lipo,” to entice patients, but the results can be painful or even deadly.
The most common complication from cheap liposuction is contour irregularity. Fat removal may appear uneven, or the skin may look bumpy or wavy. Skin may also be damaged from cannula placement, resulting in a permanent scar. Temporary or permanent numbness from nerve damage is common. More serious complications include life-threatening skin infections, the puncturing of an internal organ or fat embolism, a condition that occurs when loosened fat becomes trapped in blood vessels and gathers in the lungs. Shifts in fluid levels as areas are being injected and suctioned can lead to fatal heart and kidney problems, and inexpert anesthesia administration can prove toxic and result in death. Studies have shown that when more than one cosmetic procedure is performed during liposuction, the risk factor for all complications increases significantly.
It can sometimes be difficult to determine the legitimacy of establishments offering cosmetic surgery, but there are several factors to take into account. First, take a look around the facilities. They should be clean, sterile and secure. Never opt for a day spa, a getaway spa or fly-by-night “liposuction center.” Instead, choose a well-equipped clinic with not only an office, but a state-accredited operating room.
There is no such thing as “lunchtime lipo.” If the establishment advertises a liposuction procedure that takes an hour or less over one’s lunchbreak with no recovery time or prices that seem too good to be true, they are not offering honest, quality care. The time commitment for a liposuction procedure can vary greatly by individual depending on elected areas and type of surgery. The average patient will be at the facility for three to seven hours, with a recovery period of one to three days. Results can also vary by individual. Liposuction is not a miracle cure for unwanted fat, and it is not recommended for jumpstarting a healthy diet and exercise plan. The procedure will not improve the look of skin. Any stretch marks, dimples or ripples will still be visible after your procedure.
The individual performing your liposuction procedure should be able to readily provide all degrees and certifications. They should also be able to talk at length about the procedure, its risks and its success rates and provide in-house before and after photos. Remember, experience counts. There are many physicians with prestigious degrees, but little to no liposuction training or hands-on experience. Liposuction is a serious procedure that requires finesse: anyone can wield liposuction equipment, but it takes a truly experienced professional to achieve optimal results. You’ll want to choose a board-certified cosmetic surgeon with the skills, knowledge and expertise to provide you with the highest quality care.
Dr. Schlessinger trained extensively with the inventor of tumescent liposuction, Dr. Jeffrey Klein, and has performed thousands of procedures at his Omaha, Nebraska practice since 1996. His state-accredited ambulatory surgery center is furnished with the most up-to-date equipment, and he and his staff are well-prepared to meet your individual needs.
Do you have a question about liposuction? Let us know in the comments below.