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Liposuction is the most-performed cosmetic surgery procedure world-wide. Also known as Suction-Assisted Lipectomy (SAL), excellent results can be achieved with minimal down-time and minimal scarring. Liposuction is also used as an adjunct to surgery in generally overweight patients.

Liposuction Candidates
The liposuction procedure is very popular and effective because it can be tailored to meet each patient’s individual needs. Liposuction can be performed on any area of the body where fat deposits have accumulated. Common targets include the jowls and under the chin ('submental'), the hips, outer thighs, buttocks and inner knees, and the breasts in males with gynaecomastia. These are all areas which are very resistant to dieting. The best results are achieved when the fat deposits are localised, the skin is still somewhat elastic, and the patient is close to his/her ideal body weight. The younger the patient the better the chance that the skin excess will 'take up', so that surgical removal of the excess skin will not be required. Conversely, I see many patients for abdominal liposuction who really need removal of fat and skin i.e. an abdominoplasty procedure.

The Liposuction Procedure
The length of the liposuction procedure and the type of anesthesia used depend upon the number of areas being treated. Multiple areas can be treated in the same treatment session. Liposuction on its own is generally performed as a day stay procedure in hospital, either under sedation or full general anaesthetic. Smaller areas can be treated as an office procedure.

To begin treatment, very small (1cm) incisions are made over the area where the fat cells are to be removed. A surgical instrument called a cannula is then inserted into the layer of fat underneath the skin. The fat cells deposits are broken up and are removed by suction through the cannula. Liposuction is often performed in conjunction with other plastic surgery procedures, including the tummy tuck, body lift, thigh lift, buttock lift and arm reduction. Particular attention is given to prevention of clotting of the blood in the leg veins by means of below-knee compression stockings, external foot or calf compression, and thinning of the blood.

After Liposuction
Bruising and swelling occur immediately after the procedure and firm compression of the suctioned areas by way of a garment worn for 6 weeks is critical to the success of the procedure. Some of the small incisions for the cannula may be left open to allow blood to drain out rather than accumulate inside resulting in fibrosis (scarring) which makes for a poorer result. Most patients are able to return to work after only a few days.