Liposuction and Liposculpture

What is it?

Liposuction is a surgical procedure reshapes the body by removing fatty tissue from specific body areas. It is not an alternative to exercise or dieting, but can be effective when these measures do not produce the desired results. Areas of the body that tend to be most commonly liposucked are the tummy, hips, buttocks, thighs, inner knees and chin. Liposculpture is a method of fat transfer whereby fat is removed from one part of the body and then re-injected in another to reshape it.

What to expect

Liposuction is most commonly performed under general anaesthetic and very occasionally under local anaesthetic. The operation can last between one and two hours.
A fluid mixture is injected which makes it easier to remove fat and helps reduce post-operative bleeding, bruising, swelling and pain.

A small incision is made in the skin into which the cannula (a needle about 3mm in diameter) is inserted. This is pushed under skin until it reaches the part of body for treatment. Fat is removed using suction. Once treated, the extracted fat volume is measured and the incision closed. The procedure is repeated in different directions and for other areas, as needed.

Simple dressings are placed over the incision sites and you will be given a pressure garment to wear. Once you have recovered from the anaesthetic, you will be discharged home and asked to re-attend clinic, for a wound review.

What results can be achieved?

Where simple weight loss and exercise have failed to produce the desired results, liposuction can help to resculpt the body. For the vast majority of patients, the results are very pleasing and it can contribute to improvements in confidence and self-esteem. Liposuction is an effective procedure that is tolerated well by the majority of people. Ageing and changes in weight will affect the final result and may necessitate the need for revision surgery in the future.

Possible risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. Fortunately, there are rarely any significant complications associated with liposuction and liposculpture, both of which are commonly performed procedures.

After surgery

After treatment you will experience swelling and bruising. This is most noticeable in the first week and may take up to eight weeks to subside. You will be advised to wear your pressure garment day and night during this time. All dressings should be kept dry for the first week to help wound healing. You will undergo a review after two weeks to assess your progress.

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Common risks

The risk of most types of cosmetic surgery is similar and these will be discussed with you during your consultation.

You can help to minimise certain risks by following your surgeon’s advice and instructions after surgery. Some of the common risks include:

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  • Minor discomfort – this can be treated with over the counter painkillers.
  • Minor swelling and bruising – your surgeon will advise you how long this will last based upon your individual procedure.
  • Scarring – initially the scars will be red but they will fade over time to be virtually invisible.
  • Dissolving skin stitches not holding properly – if this occurs the stitches may need to be removed under local anaesthetic.
  • Stitch granuloma – sometimes a tender lump or abscess can occur at the stitch site. This is generally more common where the skin is thinner, such as in front of or behind the ear. The stitch may need to be removed or it may be treated with antibiotics.
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Your surgeon will give you aftercare advice to help you to mitigate any symptoms and promote more rapid recovery.

More serious risks
The symptoms listed above are normally temporary or without serious consequences. There are some more serious risks associated with cosmetic surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon as part of the initial consultation.

Tummy Tuck

What is it?

An abdominoplasty or tummy-tuck can be an effective way of removing extra skin and fat around the tummy and tightening the muscles.

What to expect

A tummy tuck is usually performed under general anaesthetic. Your surgeon will make an incision from hip bone to hip bone. Depending on the type of tummy-tuck you need, a further incision may also be made around your tummy button. This allows the skin and fatty tissue to be lifted from the underlying muscle, as far up as the rib cage. Folds of loose skin and fat are then repositioned to achieve a flatter look and slightly tighter feel in the tummy. Extra skin is removed and the tummy-button is repositioned. Sometimes you may only require a mini-abdominoplasty. Sometimes, too, liposuction (sucking out fat), can be combined with abdominoplasty surgery to enhance the effects of the tummy-tuck. Your surgeon will advise you about both of these at your initial consultation.

After surgery dressings are placed on the lower longer incision and around the tummy button. Drains (tubes that drain tissue fluid by connection to suction bottles) are placed in each side of the abdomen during surgery, and remain in place until you leave hospital. This will normally be three to four days.

What results can be achieved?

Folds of skin and fat can build up around the tummy after pregnancy, major weight loss or surgery (eg. Caesarian section). It can be difficult to shift this with exercise and diet alone. Damage to the abdominal muscles can create weakness in the region, adding to the problems. A tummy tuck can restore tone and shape to the tummy, creating a smoother profile and a flatter tummy. This can help to improve confidence and self-esteem issues and offer a broader range of fashion choices.

A tummy tuck does not mean you can’t have a normal pregnancy. However, the results of tummy tuck are likely to change irreversibly after pregnancy so we normally advise having surgery once you have no further plans to have children.

Possible Risks

All surgery carries risks and cosmetic surgery is no exception. Fortunately, there are rarely any significant complications associated with tummy tuck surgery, which is a commonly performed procedure.

After surgery

After tummy tuck surgery you are likely to experience slight discomfort, especially when coughing or straining. For the first few weeks, the tummy will feel tight and some patients find it easier to walk about with a slight stoop to alleviate this. The tightness lessens as the tissues adjust. A binder is placed around your tummy, to support you in this time and is worn day and night for six weeks. You will be invited to the clinic a week after surgery for a wound check. Your surgeon will advise you about showering and getting the incision sites wet. You should refrain from physical activity exercise) for at least six weeks after surgery. Scar moisturising and massage can help to minimise scarring.

Common risks

The risk of most types of cosmetic surgery is similar and these will be discussed with you during your consultation. You can help to minimize certain risks by following your surgeon’s advice and instructions after surgery. Chest infection, problems with wound healing and tissue damage are particular complications in smokers. For this reason, you may be asked to quit smoking prior to surgery.

Some of the common risks of tummy tuck surgery include:

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  • Minor discomfort – this can be treated with over the counter painkillers.
  • Minor swelling and bruising – your surgeon will advise you how long this will last based upon your individual procedure.
  • Scarring – Scars will be positioned so they are hidden within normal clothing as much as possible. Scars fade over months to become paler and less obvious. However, they will always be present and visible when you are undressed. In most people they will be thin and silvery, but in some they can stretch, move or become red and sensitive. In some cases you may need scar revision surgery.
  • Dissolving skin stitches not holding properly – if this occurs the stitches may need to be removed under local anaesthetic.
  • Stitch granuloma – sometimes a tender lump or abscess can occur at the stitch site. This is generally more common where the skin is thinner, such as in front of or behind the ear. The stitch may need to be removed or it may be treated with antibiotics.
  • Asymmetry – No paired structures in the human body are perfectly symmetrical and you should not expect your tummy tuck surgery to achieve total symmetry. Abdominoplasty surgery relies on the surgeon’s artistic eye. It should look the same, but may not measure exactly the same. Your surgeon will discuss this with you at your initial consultation.
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Your surgeon will give you aftercare advice to help you to mitigate any symptoms and promote more rapid recovery.

More serious risks
The symptoms listed above are normally temporary or without serious consequences. There are some more serious risks associated with cosmetic surgery, which will be discussed with your surgeon as part of the initial consultation.

Plastic surgery alone cannot change your life but it can give you the confidence to make those changes for yourself.

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