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What's it like: To get liposuction

Liposuction can be helpful in shaping a person's chin, abdomen, hips and ankle areas.
by Jaclyn Cosgrove Modified: December 22, 2012 at 12:43 am •  Published: December 24, 2012

Why get liposuction?

Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery to remove stubborn and/or unwanted fat. People who live healthy lifestyles but continue to have body fat in certain areas of their bodies might get liposuction. Liposuction can be helpful in shaping a person's chin, abdomen, hips and ankle areas.

If you have several pounds to lose, your doctor might recommend diet and exercise if you haven't yet tried it. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity.

What happens when you get liposuction?

Liposuction is generally an outpatient procedure. Before the procedure, you and your plastic surgeon will discuss whether you will be placed under general or local anesthesia. If it is under general anesthesia, an anesthesiologist will put you to sleep for the operation.

There are multiple ways liposuction can be performed, including suction-assisted liposuction, power-assisted liposuction and ultrasound-assisted liposuction. It's best to walk with your doctor about which procedure he or she prefers and which might work best for you.

Sometimes to perform the surgery, your surgeon will insert a sterile solution into the liposuction site and then suction it out along with the fat. Next, the surgeon will make a few stab incisions that are about one-quarter of an inch long. These incisions will be small and not easy to see after about six months. In many cases, a surgeon will then use a cannula, a hollow metal tube, attached to a vacuum to suction out fat under the skin.

Does it hurt?

You will be sore after the procedure, but the amount of pain varies from person to person. You might also experience some bruising. In general, people take pain medications for up to one week.

What are the risk factors?

With surgery, there's generally a risk of bleeding, infection and wound healing. But with liposuction, those risks are pretty minimal. Infection is rare in liposuction, but a severe skin infection is serious if it does occur.

Fluid buildup is one concern with liposuction. This occurs when seromas, or temporary fluid pockets, form under the skin.

Contour irregularities, where your skin appears lumpy or uneven, could appear if the surgeon causes damage when using the cannula.

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by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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