Liposuction, or suction-assisted lipectomy, is a popular technique used to remove unwanted fat deposits. Dr. Coville removes this undesirable subcutaneous fat from specific areas – sculpting your body and resulting in a more pleasing overall shape.
The unsightly distribution of body fat is usually due to an inborn tendency to deposit fat in one particular area of the body, most commonly the hips. Other areas where this may occur include the neck, back, arms, tummy, flanks, loins, thighs, inner side of the knees and the ankles. Even if you maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly, you may still have problem areas where unwanted fat refuses to come off. For many people, liposuction is the ideal solution for fine-tuning their abdomen, hips, buttocks, ankles, calves, knees, thighs, upper arms, chin, cheeks, and neck.
Liposuction is a process that can help restore a more pleasing shape to specific areas of your body by removing the unwanted fat and leaving you with a more gratifying, sculpted form. At Cornerstone Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine, we find the areas that most typically concern our patients comprise the tummy (abdomen), back and brassiere line, the flanks (waistline), the outer part of the thighs, the hips, and the insides of the knees. Often, Dr. Coville combines the procedure with a tummy tuck. By doing so, he can remove excess skin from the abdominal area as well as repair the damaged, or “separated” abdominal muscles.
Although liposuction can help to eliminate fat deposits which have proven stubborn despite exercise and a healthy diet, this procedure is not a treatment for obesity; and should not be seen as a substitute for following a healthy lifestyle. Eating a healthy diet and following a regular exercise regimen are still the best solutions for looking your best. Nevertheless, liposuction can prove beneficial in helping remove those persistent areas of unattractive fat that refuse to respond to your best efforts.
We invite you to look over the following informational paragraphs to learn more about liposuction, and then contact us at Cornerstone Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine to arrange a consultation with Dr. Frederick A. Coville. Together, you and Dr. Fred will determine what can, and should be done in your particular situation.
The Liposuction Procedure:
The techniques used for liposuction have been refined considerably in the last ten to fifteen years. With these improvements, Dr. Coville’s methods have continued to evolve as well. Throughout his career, Dr. Fred has been fortunate to exchange ideas and techniques with surgeons from all around the world. He incorporates these influences into his current liposuction and body sculpting procedures. These developments, over the recent past mean that those who choose today’s liposuction enjoy much less bruising, substantially faster recovery times, and more natural-looking results.
Essentially, your surgeon inserts a hollow metal tube (or cannula) through a tiny incision near the treatment area and the fat is then gently removed through suction. The incision sites will be carefully chosen so that scarring is as inconspicuous as possible. Naturally, fluid is lost along with the fat. To prevent any sort of complications, we monitor our patients carefully and give intravenous fluids during and immediately after surgery.
Liposuction, also known as liposculpture or suction assisted lipectomy, removes tunnels of fat, leaving the small blood vessels and nerves intact. Your skin will then retract leaving behind a more pleasing shape to the area that has been sculpted. There are some minor variations in the techniques. Some surgeons inject the area to be treated with solutions (wet or tumescent technique) others do not. Dr. Coville prefers to use a wet technique. He feels this method delivers results that are more pleasing – as well as safer for the patient. He will be happy to discuss his reasoning for his chosen techniques with you during your consultation.
Suction is usually applied with a powerful vacuum machine, but it is perfectly adequate to use a simple syringe for small areas. In fact, this is the method Dr. Fred chooses when he harvests fat for transfer to other areas such as the face or buttocks.
If only a small amount of fat and a limited number of body sites are involved, liposuction can be performed under a local anesthetic. To help you relax completely during the procedure, intravenous sedation may be added. For operations that are more extensive, regional anesthesia such as the epidural block used in childbirth can be a good choice. If a large volume of fat is to be removed, a general anesthetic may be preferable and safest.
The amount of time the procedure takes depends on how much fat is to be removed, and the areas of the body which are being treated. When you wake up, you will have a firmly fitting garment like a girdle applied, plus small dressings over the wounds. The sutures used to close the wounds are the kind that absorb on their own – there is no need to have them removed.
Is Liposuction right for me?
You should be realistic in your expectations before deciding on liposuction. It can enhance your appearance and, therefore, your self-confidence, but it will not necessarily achieve your ideal dream shape, or change the way other people treat you.
The most suitable candidates for liposuction are average weight people with firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in specific areas. They should also be physically healthy and psychologically stable. Age is not a major consideration but older patients with less elastic skin should not expect the same results as younger patients with firmer bodies.
There is greater risk for individuals who have medical problems such as diabetes, significant heart or lung disease, poor circulation, or who have recently had surgery near the area to be contoured. You should discuss your particular medical and surgical history with Dr. Fred Coville to determine if you are a candidate for this procedure.
Will it last?
The fat cells that are removed during liposuction do not come back. Consequently, their removal by liposuction will give a permanent change in contour. In other words, the shape that Dr. Coville creates for you will remain essentially unchanged. However, if you gain a significant amount of weight, the remaining fat cells in those areas can enlarge. This can give you a larger version of the form and contour that you had after liposuction.
What is liposuction aftercare like?
- Liposuction is regularly done by Dr. Coville as an outpatient procedure at one of the fully accredited Surgery Centers on the Southern New Jersey Shore.
- You will have some bruising over the area that has been treated. Sometimes this can be extensive, and can last for three weeks or more.
- The treated area will be swollen and may feel lumpy and very tender. This will take several months to completely settle and you may not see the full benefit of your surgery for four to six months. Surface imperfections and skin dimpling (cellulite) may remain.
- You are likely to need painkillers for several days after the operation. We will give prescriptions for any pain medication or antibiotics you will need before your surgery so that you can have them ready for you after the procedure.
- Healing takes time, and patience will be required. Dr. Fred will probably urge you to walk around as soon as possible to reduce swelling and to help prevent any blood clots that may form in your legs. You should be able to return to work within a few days and you will begin to feel better after a week or two. The stitches will dissolve on their own after 7 to 10 days.
- You should avoid strenuous activity for about a month. Although most of the bruising and swelling usually disappears within three weeks, some may remain for six months or more. Our office will schedule follow-up visits to monitor your progress and to assess whether you will need any additional procedures. If you have any unusual symptoms between visits, or you wish to ask any questions about what you can and cannot do, always check with us at our office.
- You will need to wear your support garment day and night for 4 to 5 weeks and during the day for a further 4 weeks. Dr. Coville may feel that less time might be adequate in your case. This is something you will want to discuss with him during your consultation.
- You may experience water retention or swelling. If your abdomen has been treated, this may occur in your genitals; if your legs have been treated, it can occur in your ankles. Ankle liposuction can result in swollen ankles for several months.
- As Dr. Coville treats patients from all over the world, he has a large experience with patients who need to travel after their surgery. Air travel immediately afterwards is not recommended, as your swelling will be very increased. This is due to the cabin pressure at high altitudes. Dr. Fred will strongly recommend waiting at least two weeks after surgery before flying after a large liposuction. Please discuss this in detail with him prior to your operation.
- You will need to completely rest for at least 48 hours after the operation. After that, gradually build up your activities, as you feel able over the next 2 weeks, avoiding anything too strenuous.
- Depending on your occupation and the size of the area treated, you may consider returning to work in 7 to 14 days, depending on how comfortable you feel.
- There may be numbness in the skin over the treated area and you may experience the very occasional ‘stabbing-like’ discomfort while the area is healing (3 to 6 months).
- Realistically, the scars will take 12 to 18 months to fully fade. Some can become lumpy and remain raised for this time. Their final appearance varies from person to person. Dr. Coville may recommend some additional therapeutic measures for you if you are prone to poor scarring.
Are there any potential Complications or Risks with liposuction?
- In some cases, permanent sagging of the skin can occur when the amount of fat removed exceeds the capacity of the skin to contract.
- Although we aim to make you as even and symmetrical as possible, you should expect some difference between the two sides of your body after the operation. This is likely due to normal asymmetries in the shape of our bodies that exist before the surgery. You and Dr. Coville will go over your pre-surgery pictures together so that you both can be aware of any pre-existing asymmetry that may persist after your procedure.
- Infection after surgery is extremely uncommon, but in some patients blood collections underneath the skin can develop, and these may need to be drained. Infection is very rare and we take all precautions to avoid this. Skin loss and other major complications are very rare.
- You can expect considerable bruising which will be uncomfortable and at times painful. The larger the area treated, the greater it will be. Some people bruise more easily than do others. The discoloration of this bruising will usually last for about a month, but the lumpiness and swelling of deep bruising can take up to six months to disappear, particularly when the abdomen or ankles have been treated.
- As swelling can take a long time to settle you may not see the full benefit of the operation for up to six months. If you are having treatment to your legs, you may find that your ankles are swollen for a few weeks and if your ankles themselves have been treated, they may stay swollen for a few months. A snug pressure garment is worn after surgery to help reduce swelling.
What can I really expect in terms of results?
Your body shape will be noticeably different quite soon after surgery, and the improvement will become even more apparent after about four to six weeks when most of the swelling will have subsided. After about three months, any persistent mild swelling will usually have disappeared and the final contour will be visible.
It is important for you to understand that liposuction is not a treatment for obesity. The amount of fat that can be removed from a localized area is limited by what is safe, (a maximum of 3 liters), and a natural limitation when no further fat can be removed. Therefore, it may not be possible to slim down an area as much as you might like. Dr. Coville can carry out further treatments in the same area after six months. In certain situations, the skin may not be very elastic and it may not shrink back. Dr. Fred has a great deal of experience in evaluating your skin beforehand so that you can understand any limitations your skin elasticity may present. In some cases, he might suggest a skin excision to correct any laxity in your skin. This can be done, either at the same time as the liposuction, or as a second procedure. This is most likely in the abdomen, after pregnancy or weight loss, the buttocks, or the neck. Dimples and wrinkles of the skin, sometimes called cellulite, usually will not be improved by liposuction.
If your expectations were realistic in the first place, you will most likely be very pleased with the results – most people are. You may find that you are more comfortable in a wider variety of clothes, and generally feel more at ease with your body. By eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you can help to maintain and even improve your new shape. Be sure to ask Dr. Coville for helpful diet, nutrition, and exercise tips. This would also be a great time to discuss any other concerns you might have.