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What is liposuction?

Liposuction, sometimes referred to as "lipo" by patients, slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by eliminating unwanted pockets of exercise and diet-resistant fat and improving your body contours and proportion, being one of the safest and most popular cosmetic procedures. Liposuction can treat thighs, hips, buttocks abdomen, waist, upper arms, back, inner knee, chest area (male and female), cheeks, chin, neck, calves, and ankles.

Some traditional liposuction methods such as suction-assisted liposuction (SAL) have been used for some time, while there are laser- or ultrasound-assisted liposuction technology methods that are relatively new. You should be aware that there are few studies to prove that the results of these techniques are better than traditional liposuction. Dr Ricardo will determine what is best for you based on his experience, your body type, and your cosmetic goals.

Liposuction can be performed alone or along with other plastic surgery procedures, such as a facelift, neck lift, tummy tuck, buttock enhancement, breast lift, breast augmentation, arm lift, or thigh lift. Liposuction is often part of a mommy makeover surgery.

“Liposuction is a highly individualized procedure. You should do it for yourself, not to fulfil someone else's desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image, especially those coming from social media. Choosing a procedure based on “what’s new” is never a medically sound decision. Hearing about brand name procedures such as Smart Lipo or CoolLipo on television, through an advertisement or online does not necessarily mean it is the best procedure for you".

Who is a good candidate for liposuction?

In general, you may be a good candidate for liposuction if you have a minimal amount of excess skin and good skin elasticity (liposuction removes fat, but does not tighten skin), have localized deposits of fat in your abdomen, arms, thighs, and/or neck, which may be the result of heredity and do not disappear with exercise and diet, would like more definition or a sleeker contour in certain areas of your body, want to look better in clothes and swimwear, you are physically fit, nonsmoker or have stopped smoking recently and if you have realistic expectations.

What liposuction can't treat?

Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise. It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite, the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips, and buttocks, or loose saggy skin and cannot tighten loose skin.

What should I expect during a consultation for liposuction?

During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss your cosmetic goals. Dr Ricardo will evaluate you as a candidate for liposuction and clarify what approach is best for you. Alternative and additional treatments may be considered, once he understands your goals and medical condition. It is important to be completely honest during the consultation and be prepared to discuss your surgical goals, medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments, current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, and previous surgeries.

Dr Ricardo will also evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors, evaluate the elasticity of your skin, take photographs, discuss the approach to your surgery, including the type of procedure or combination of procedures and tell you whether your expectations are in line with typical results, discuss any risks or potential complications and share before-and-after photos of cases similar to yours.

The success and safety of your liposuction depend very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. It's very important to understand all aspects of your procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement about your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with Dr Ricardo.

How should I prepare for liposuction?

In preparing for liposuction, you may be asked to get lab testing or a medical evaluation, take certain medications or adjust your current medications, stop smoking in advance of surgery and avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding.

Your surgery will be performed in an accredited hospital and is usually performed on an outpatient basis unless you and Dr Ricardo have made other plans for your immediate postoperative recovery. You must arrange for a friend or family member to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you the first night following surgery.

Dr Ricardo and the entire staff will provide thorough preoperative instructions and answer any questions you may have. The goal is to help you achieve the most beautiful and natural-looking results, as well as to make your surgical experience as easy, comfortable, and safe as possible.

What are the steps of a liposuction procedure?

Step 1 – Anaesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anaesthesia. Dr Ricardo will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – Surgical procedure

Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions and removes fat from your body using suction. In this procedure, small, thin, blunt-tipped tubes (cannula) are inserted through small cuts in the skin. Dr Ricardo moves these tubes under your skin to target fat deposits and then suction them out. From traditional liposuction procedures to new laser liposuction technologies such as Smart Lipo, there are a variety of techniques that facilitate liposuction:

  • Tumescent liposuction describes a “wetting solution” with a local anaesthetic, such as lidocaine and another medication in IV fluids, which is injected before surgery, causing blood vessels to shrink down or constrict. This minimizes blood loss and reduces postsurgical pain and bleeding.

  • Suction-assisted liposuction (SAL), the most traditional form of liposuction, draws fat out with a vacuum.

  • Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) is a traditional SAL with the addition of a tool to increase the motion of the cannula, which speeds up fat removal.

  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) transmits energy through a special handpiece that helps to loosen and melt fat, enabling a greater volume of fat to be removed. This is best for larger areas, dense fat, and male patients.

  • VASER, a variation of UAL, is an ultrasonic cannula with several grooves that evenly disperse the energy, improving fat disruption and removal.

  • Laser-assisted liposuction (LAL), such as Smartlipo and Slimlipo, is a relatively new technology. The theory is that the laser will work like ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty to disrupt the fat cells and make fat removal more efficient and less traumatic.

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Sutures, skin adhesives (glues) or tapes close the skin incisions.

Step 4 – See the results

Your improved body contour will be apparent once the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside.

What should I expect during my liposuction recovery?

During your liposuction recovery, a compression garment or elastic bandages may cover treatment areas once your procedure is completed. These help to control swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours.

You will be given specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with Dr Ricardo. Remember to always follow his instructions to ensure the success of your surgery.

Initial wound healing may take 10 to 14 days. Sutures will be removed when it is appropriate. You should be ready to return to work and normal activity after 4-7 days. It may take several months for the swelling to fully dissipate. As it does, your new contours and enhanced self-image should continue to develop. However, you must realize that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.

What results should I expect after my liposuction?

Your improved body contour will be apparent when the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside. The results of your liposuction will be long-lasting, provided you maintain a stable weight and general fitness.  As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.

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