Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that uses a thin, hollow tube called a cannula to remove localized areas of body fat. The cannula is inserted through extremely small incisions classically behind the ears and under the chin, and then moved back and forth to loosen excess fat, which is suctioned out using a vacuum or a cannula-attached syringe. The under chin area becomes slimmer and more contoured, and in better overall proportion to the rest of the face. However, liposuction is not a method for losing weight, and is not effective in tightening loose and sagging skin.
The ideal candidate for liposuction is in good overall health, do not smoke and has stubborn submental (under chin) fat. Liposuction can be performed alone, or in conjunction with other cosmetic procedures, such as facelift/neck lift, rhinoplasty and chin implant.
One of the most common liposuction techniques is tumescent liposuction, it is most commonly performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia.
During tumescent liposuction, a solution comprising saline solution, lidocaine (an anesthetic) and epinephrine (a blood-vessel contractor) is injected into the area being treated. The solution causes the targeted tissue swell and become firm, which makes it easier to remove via the cannula. The advantages to this technique are that the anesthetic is built in for post-operative comfort and blood loss is minimized because the epinephrine constricts blood vessels.
After liposuction, patients experience swelling, bruising and some discomfort in the treated area. Compression garments or elastic bandages are typically worn to help reduce these symptoms as the area heals. Patients can return to work and other regular activities as soon as they feel comfortable, which is usually after 3 to 5 days. Exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for a few weeks.
In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery, risks associated with liposuction include the following:
Results of the liposuction procedure may not be apparent until swelling and bruising subside, which usually takes a week or two; swelling should completely subside within a few months. Scarring is almost nonexistent, because the incisions used for the cannula are so small. The results of liposuction are long-lasting, unless a substantial amount of weight is gained.