Liposuction was introduced into the United States in 1982 and has now overtaken breast augmentation as the most sought after cosmetic surgery procedure in America. Over 400,000 procedures are performed each year, with that number growing.
What makes it so popular is the simplicity of the technique. A small hollow tube, or cannula, is introduced just under the skin into an area of excess fat. The surgeon moves the cannula back and forth breaking up the fat into small globules that can be suctioned out of the body.
Early forms of liposuction were risky due to blood loss and other factors. In 1985 a California dermatologic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey Klein developed a much safer method called tumescent liposuction. This is the preferred method used by board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Sean Younai.
As one of the top liposuction specialists practicing in Beverly Hills & Los Angeles, patient safety and comfort is his number one concern while performing any cosmetic procedure.
The original liposuction method, which was called the dry technique, caused a great deal of blood loss and could only be done under a general anesthetic. Patients were advised to store their own blood for a few months before their surgery so that it could be transferred back during and after the surgery. It is no longer done because of the risks involved and the development of safer methods.
Preferred Liposuction Method
Dr. Younai prefers to use the Tumescent method of Liposuction.
Tumescent means ‘swollen’ and in this technique, a very dilute mixture of an anesthetic (lidocaine), and a vaso constrictor (epinephrine) is infused into the target area. This causes the area to become swollen and firm and much easier for the surgeon to work with. The addition of lidocaine provides such profound anesthesia that patients usually do not need a general anesthetic. This removes one of the risks of surgery. The other benefit is in the addition of epinephrine, which causes the capillaries to contract thereby eliminating most of the blood loss that patients were formerly subjected to.
Today, liposuction is extremely safe and comfortable for patients. With improved techniques, the recovery time is greatly reduced. In some procedures patients can return to work and light activities within a few days as long as they are mindful that they are still recovering and must allow time to fully resume all activities.
There are several forms of liposuction that have gained popularity:
- Tumescent Method
- Laser Assisted (Smart Lipo)
- Ultrasonic Assisted Liposuction
- Power Assisted Liposuction
In all of these methods, the fat is broken up and removed from the body in a different way. Ultrasonic-assisted liposuction uses ultra sound energy to break up the fat, laser assisted methods use laser energy and the power-assisted liposuction method uses an electric-powered cannula intended to quickly remove fat.
Dr. Younai believes the safest method, and the method that consistently produces beautiful results is the tumescent method. There is a danger of permanently damaging skin tissue and a risk of tissue burns using exterior energy. The vibrations of the power-assisted liposuction machines remove the surgeon’s ability to use finesse when sculpting delicate areas.
There are health benefits to liposuction. Removing excess fat from the body, particularly in cases of obesity, can decrease LDL cholesterol, lower blood pressure and reduce the dosage of insulin. Reduction of body fat is also a factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. Feeling lighter encourages more movement and enables people to increase exercise and further improve their overall health.
The number of fat cells in the body is usually stable by the time puberty is reached. Individual cells store more fat as we gain weight, and release it as we reduce. When fat cells are removed from an area, the fat cannot return to that particular area. However, weight gain will be stored in other parts of the body which can create disproportion. Patients should ensure they do not gain a significant amount of weight after undergoing liposuction.
Cellulite And Stretch Marks
Cellulite is a fatty deposit that causes the skin to pucker and look uneven.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not caused by being overweight. Cellulite is stubborn and does not respond to lotions, laser treatment, massage or liposuction.
The appearance of cellulite can be worsened by liposuction in patients who have poor skin elasticity.
Stretch marks are the result of damage to the deep layers of the skin.
After liposuction, areas with stretch marks can become more evident as the plumping effect of fat is removed.
Both of these conditions can be treated in other ways. Dr. Younai will review all treatment options with his patients during the initial consultation.