Since its introduction into the United States in 1982, liposuction surgery has rapidly become the most commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedure. An effective means of fat transplantation and autologous collagen preparation have emerged as well from liposuction technology.

The technology was first developed by Italian Physicians, the Fischers, in the early 1970s. They developed an instrument, a cannula, to remove fat cells that were suctioned out by the use of a mechanical pump. Later on, Fournier, a French physician, refined this technique, and invented the method of syringe liposuction as an alternative to suction pumps.

In the early days, patients were required to undergo general anesthesia for the liposuction surgery, however, in 1987, Klein, an American physician, introduced a new technique, “tumescent” whereby only local anesthesia is required for liposuction surgery. In this technique, patients are able to walk immediately after surgery and have a more rapid recovery. Thus, the liposuction surgery evolved into an elegant and safe cosmetic surgery.

Currently, most plastic surgeons still use the general anesthesia approach, however, most dermatologist prefer the local, much safer anesthesia.

Why the need for liposuction?

Many people are plagued with the problem of excessive fat accumulation in unattractive areas. In women, the fat deposits occur most commonly form the waist down, on hips, buttocks, outer thighs (“saddlebags”), and lower abdomen. Men usually accumulate fat above the waist, on the abdomen, and around the waist (“live handles”). The fat stored in these areas are notoriously stubborn, they are resistant to removal by dieting or by a vigorous exercise program. Additionally, hereditary predispositions to storing fat in these specific areas are difficult to overcome.

It is interesting to note that recent research has shown that obesity in the male with the typical distribution pattern described above, is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, hardening of the arteries, and diabetes.

Liposuction surgery allows both men and women to improve the contours of their body through this relatively safe and simple technique. Although this is not a procedure to correct general obesity, it can be used in areas such as the chin, neck, jowls.

Generally, it does not improve the appearance of cellulite (dimpled appearance).

It does nothing to improve muscle tone.

It cannot make a perfect body contour, but rather, liposuction can offer excellent improvement of existing contours.

Where is the surgery performed?

Nowadays, liposuction is easily performed in the comfort of the dermatologist office. Patient may require some preoperative blood tests. Premedication is often employed to help relax the patient prior to the procedure.

What are the common complications of liposuction?

Just like any surgical procedure, liposuction carries the risk of complications. The most common complications are not serious and generally resolve on their own; they include, bruising, swelling, persistent swelling, tenderness, fatigue, numbness, and small redness at the incision sites. Dents or waviness over the treated areas are seen frequently, but they often spontaneously resolve. Infection,collection of blood or serum are other very rare complications.

To reiterate, there are always certain inherent risks with every surgical procedure which should be discussed with the physician.

Patients can minimize complications by carefully following the physician’s directions and recommendations.

In summary, liposuction surgery while not a cure for general obesity, is an excellent technique to remove unsightly localized fat accumulation. Furthermore, the recent use of syringe liposuction instead of the suction pump, and the replacement of general anesthesia by local anesthesia has made this procedure much more refined and much more safer than ever before.