Liposuction is an operation to remove unwanted body fat to change the shape of the body.
What is Liposuction
Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty or liposculpture, is an operation that sucks excess fat out from under your skin. It can remove small amounts of fat that you haven’t been able to shift with diet and exercise. Liposuction is not a treatment for weight control or obesity, and it can’t remove cellulite or stretch marks.
Liposuction can be done on your abdomen (tummy), hips, buttocks, neck, arms, thighs, knees and ankles.
There is a limit to the amount of fat that can be safely removed from any area of your body, so it may not be possible to reduce an area as much as you would like. Your body won’t replace the fat cells, so you should have a long-lasting change in your body shape, especially if you exercise, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy weight after liposuction. However, putting on weight can cause the remaining fat cells to change.
Getting advice before surgery
It’s important not to rush into the decision to have cosmetic surgery. You should discuss your options with your GP or book at appointment at our Private GP service.
Our GPs can refer you on to a cosmetic Consultant surgeon at Kingsbridge Private Hospital Belfast who will be able to provide you with information about the procedure and discuss your concerns and expectations. Before opting to have Tummy Tuck surgery, it is important to understand what sort of results you can realistically expect.
What should I do to prepare for Liposuction?
Your surgeon at Kingsbridge Private Hospital Belfast will explain how to prepare for your operation before you attend.
If you smoke you will be asked to stop, as smoking increases your risk of getting a chest and wound infection, which can slow your recovery time. Your surgeon may choose not to carry out the procedure if you smoke and they feel there is a risk.
Liposuction is usually carried out under general anaesthesia, which means you will be asleep during the procedure. If you’re having a general anaesthetic, you will be asked to follow fasting instructions. This means not eating or drinking, typically for about six hours beforehand. However, it’s important to follow your surgeon’s advice before the procedure.
You can have an epidural for surgery and pain relief if you’re only having your lower body treated. If you’re having a small area treated, liposuction may be carried out under local anaesthesia. This completely blocks pain from the area that is being treated and you will stay awake during the procedure. You may also be given a sedative to help you relax.
Your surgeon at Kingsbridge Private Hospital will discuss with you during your consultation what will happen before, during and after your procedure, and any pain you might have. This is a good time to understand what will happen, and you can help yourself by preparing questions to ask about the risk, benefits and alternatives to the procedure. This will help you to be informed, so you can give your consent for the procedure to go ahead, which you may be asked to do so by signing a consent form.
During consultation prior to surgery at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, your surgeon will discuss with you the areas you want treated. They will then mark the treatment area on your body before surgery. Photographs may be taken, so that the results of the liposuction can be compared with your original appearance.
Liposuction is often done as a day case procedure, but you may need to stay in hospital overnight if you’re having large areas treated. You may be asked to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots forming in the veins in your legs. You may need to have an injection of an anticlotting medicine called heparin as well as, or instead of, wearing compression stockings.
What happens during Liposuction?
There are several different techniques available at Kingsbridge Private Hospital. Your surgeon will explain the options available to you.
Depending on how much fat you’re having removed and the technique your surgeon is using, the operation usually takes between one and three hours.
Your surgeon will inject a mixture of salty water, local anaesthetic and adrenaline into the fatty area being treated. This helps to reduce bleeding, bruising and swelling and make it easier to remove the fat.
Your surgeon at Kingsbridge Private Hospital will make a cut in your skin and insert a thin metal tube. This is attached to a vacuum pump or a syringe. The tube is moved inside the fatty tissue to help break it up which is then removed. Depending on the size of the area you are having treated, multiple cuts may be required to reach all fatty deposits.
Your surgeon uses a metal tube with suction, without fluid injection, to remove the fat.
Dry liposuction can cause more bleeding and bruising than wet liposuction, so it’s not often used.
If the fat is very dense, for example on a man’s torso or if there is a lot of fat, ultrasound can be used to break up the fat before it’s removed.
What to expect afterwards
After the procedure the area is firmly strapped with bandages. You will usually be fitted with an elasticated support garment. This will help to reduce swelling and improve your body shape.
If you had a general anaesthetic, you may need to rest until the effects of the anaesthetic have passed. You will need to arrange for someone to drive you home. It is recommended that you have a friend or relative stay with you for the first 24 hours following the procedure.
General anaesthesia temporarily affects your co-ordination and reasoning skills, so you must not drive, drink alcohol, operate machinery or sign legal documents for 24 hours afterwards. If you’re in any doubt about driving, contact your motor insurer so that you’re aware of their recommendations, and always follow your surgeon’s advice.
If you had the procedure under local anaesthetic, it may take several hours before the feeling comes back to the treated area. It is advised that you take extra care not to injury yourself or bump and knock the area where you have had the procedure. Once sensation has returned you will usually be able to go home when you feel ready.
You may need pain relief to help with any discomfort as the anaesthesia wears off. Your surgeon or nurse at Kingsbridge Private Hospital will provide pain relief where needed and advise which pain relief you should use after leaving the hospital.
Before you return home, a Kingsbridge Private Hospital nurse will advise you about caring for your stitches, hygiene and bathing the wound.
Recovering from liposuction
It can take around two weeks to make a full recovery from liposuction surgery, but this can vary between individuals, the type of treatment you had and the area treated. It’s important to follow your surgeon’s advice following surgery at Kingsbridge Private Hospital.
If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen. Always read the patient information leaflet that comes with the medicine and if you have any questions, ask your pharmacist for advice.
You will usually need to wear your elasticated garments or bandages for about three weeks after your operation. Walking and gentle exercises are encouraged but you should not do any strenuous exercise for up to four weeks. If you had Liposuction treatment on a large area, it can take longer to recover and you may need to take up to 10 days off work.
If you had dissolvable stitches, the amount of time they will take to disappear depends on the type of stitches you have. However, mostly they should disappear in around two weeks. If non-dissolvable stitches are used, these are usually removed about a week after liposuction.
Risks of Tummy Tuck surgery
As with every type of surgical procedure, there are some risks. Risks are evaluated on an individual basis by your surgeon and you will be advised before you decide to have the procedure.
Side-effects are the unwanted but mostly temporary effects you may get following your procedure at Kingsbridge Private Hospital.
Side-effects of a Tummy Tuck may include:
- pain and bruising – usually lasting at least a few days
- swelling – this may take several months to subside fully
- scarring – scars will usually fade over time, but won't completely disappear
- numbness of your skin over your abdomen – the skin below your new belly button may be numb for several months, but this numbness will gradually disappear as the nerves regrow in the area where surgery was performed.
Complications are when problems occur during or after your operation. In most cases they are rare but it is important that you are aware of risks before deciding to have your procedure.
Risks will be discussed in full with your Consultant at Kingsbridge Private Hospital. Often these risks are assessed on an individual basis so certain risks may be specific to you.
The possible complications of any operation include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (DVT).
Other complications to liposuction may include:
- lumpy, uneven results, that may need another operation
- fat getting into the blood vessel and travelling to your lungs – this can cause a blockage, called a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal
- build-up of fluid in your lungs (pulmonary oedema) as a result of fluid injected into your body
- damage to your internal organs – this may require further surgery to repair