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Body Contouring Liposuction

Liposuction Body Contouring

Reduce Areas of Stubborn Fat with Birmingham, Alabama Cosmetic Surgery

Liposuction slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess deposits of fat that fail to respond to diet and exercise, improving the contours and proportions of your body and ultimately enhancing your self-image.

Liposuction can be used to remove excess fat from the thighs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, arms, back, chest, legs and face.

Liposuction with Birmingham, Alabama plastic surgeons William J. Hedden, M.D. and Christopher J. Schaffer, M.D. provides long-lasting results as long as patients maintain their weight and a good overall level of fitness. Many patients choose body contouring with our board-certified plastic surgeons because of their commitment to outstanding results and a high level of patient safety and satisfaction.

Liposuction Candidates

If you are bothered by excess deposits of fat that don't respond to diet or exercise located anywhere on your body, liposuction may be right for you. Liposuction may be used to reduce localized fat deposits of the:

  • Thighs, hips and buttocks.
  • Abdomen and waist.
  • Upper arms.
  • Back.
  • Chest area.
  • Cheeks, chin and neck.
  • Inner knee, calves and ankles.

Problem areas that can be addressed with liposuction:

Liposuction problem areas diagram

Ideal candidates for liposuction are:

  • Adults within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone.
  • Healthy people who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing.
  • Non-smokers with a positive outlook and specific goals for body contouring.

Liposuction can be performed alone or along with other plastic surgery procedures, such as a Facelift, Breast Reduction or Tummy Tuck.

Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise. It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite (the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips and buttocks) or loose, saggy skin.

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Your Liposuction Consultation

By choosing a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) for your liposuction procedure, you can be assured that you are choosing a highly-trained, board-certified plastic surgeon. ASPS Member Surgeons must meet rigorous standards for training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.

During your liposuction consultation, be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals.
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments.
  • Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.
  • Previous surgeries.

Your liposuction surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors.
  • Take photographs.
  • Discuss your body contouring options and recommend a course of treatment.
  • Discuss the likely outcomes of liposuction and any risks or potential complications.

Be sure to ask questions at your consultation. It is very important to understand all aspects of your liposuction procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether preoperative stress or excitement about your anticipated new look. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.

Secondary procedures are sometimes recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts of fat (usually more than 5 liters) are suctioned.

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Liposuction Risks and Safety Information

The decision to have liposuction surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits of liposuction will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.

The risks of liposuction include:

  • Anesthesia risks.
  • Bruising.
  • Change in skin sensation that may persist.
  • Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs and abdominal organs.
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications.
  • Fluid accumulation.
  • Infection.
  • Irregular contours or asymmetries.
  • Irregular pigmentation.
  • Need for revision surgery.
  • Persistent swelling.
  • Poor wound healing.
  • Rippling or loose skin, worsening of cellulite.
  • Swelling.
  • Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound during ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty.

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all of your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.

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Preparing for Liposuction

In preparing for liposuction surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation.
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, as they can increase bleeding.

Your liposuction procedure should be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, licensed ambulatory surgical center or hospital. Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and stay with you for at least the first night.

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Liposuction Procedure

Anesthesia choices for liposuction surgery include local anesthesia, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Liposuction Incisions

Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions.

First, diluted local anesthesia is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. A thin hollow tube, or cannula, is then inserted through the incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. The dislodged fat is suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.

Laser and Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction

Liposuction assisted with laser or ultrasound liquefies the fat before it is removed from the body.

Laser Assisted Liposuction focuses low-energy waves delivered by a thin laser fiber that is inserted through small incisions. The laser energy is focused on the part of the body where you would like to have a fatty pocket removed. After the fat is melted, a small cannula is used to suck out the liquefied fat.

Ultrasound Assisted Liposuction uses a special cannula that vibrates very rapidly and gives off ultrasound energy. As the cannula passes through the fat cells, the ultrasonic waves liquefy the fat cells, which are then suctioned out. The ultrasound can be administered either above the skin (with a special emitter) or below the surface of the skin (with an ultrasound cannula).

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Liposuction Recovery

Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself. Following your physician's instructions is key to the success of your liposuction procedure. These instructions may include:

  • How to care for the surgical site and drains.
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection.
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health.
  • When to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

During your liposuction recovery, a compression garment or elastic bandages may cover treatment areas to help control swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours. Small temporary drains may be placed in existing incisions beneath the skin to remove any excess blood or fluids.

It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion or motion during the time of healing.

Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your liposuction recovery period:

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
  • How long will I wear the compression garment?
  • Are stitches removed, and when?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

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Liposuction Results

It may take several months for the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside. As it does, your new improved body contours and enhanced self-image should continue to develop.

Liposuction results diagram

The results of liposuction will be long-lasting provided you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it's natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.

Although good results are expected from your liposuction surgery, there is no guarantee. In some situations it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single procedure and another surgery may be necessary.

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Liposuction Words to Know

  • Breast reduction: Also known as reduction mammaplasty, reduction of breast size by surgery.
  • Cannula: A thin, hollow tube used during liposuction to loosen excess fat.
  • Facelift: A surgical procedure, also known as rhytidectomy, to reduce sagging of the mid-face, jowls and neck.
  • General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection to help you relax.
  • Lipoplasty: Another term for liposuction.
  • Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, a procedure which vacuums out fat from beneath the skin's surface to reduce fullness.
  • Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision to relieve pain during an operation.
  • Suction lipectomy: Another term for liposuction.
  • Sutures: Stitches used to hold skin and tissue together.
  • Tumescent liposuction: Also known as super-wet liposuction, involves an infusion of saline solution with adrenaline and possibly anesthetic prior to removal of excess fat.
  • Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure, also known as abdominoplasty, to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
  • Ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty: Also known as ultrasonic liposuction, uses ultrasonic energy to liquefy excess fat prior to surgical suctioning.

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Procedure Information © American Society of Plastic Surgeons

To find out more about contouring your body with Liposuction, please contact Hedden Plastic Surgery in Birmingham, Alabama today.