Removal of stubborn areas of fat to improve body shape
Liposuction is a procedure whereby fat is removed by suction through tubes that are inserted through the skin via small incisions. It is useful for removing stubborn areas of fat that have not responded to weight loss and improving body contour of the abdomen, buttocks, arms and thighs. It is not an effective means of weight loss. It is often combined with procedures that remove excess skin such as tummy tucks and thigh lifts.
A standalone liposuction procedure is often performed as a day case but a night’s stay is usual if it’s combined with other procedures or a particularly large volume of fat is removed (5 litres is the maximum volume). You will have some pain and bruising for the first week and you will need to take painkillers. It’s important to get on your feet as soon as possible after surgery to minimise the risk of blood clots in your legs. I recommend wearing the stockings you’re given in hospital for the first week for this reason. You may not be able to drive for the first week and you may need some help with your activities of daily living and domestic chores. If you have young children, you will need somebody to help with their care. I recommend you take one week off work, longer if you have extensive surgery or have a physical strenuous job. Walking for exercise is acceptable from 2 weeks but wait until 6 weeks for anything more vigorous.
The risks of liposuction are bleeding, infection, fluid collection under the skin (seroma), sensation disturbances, scarring, pigmentation of the skin, contour irregularity of the skin (dips and bumps), loss of patches of overlying skin, asymmetry in terms of volume and blood clots. Changes in your body weight will alter the aesthetic result. Liposuction does cause some contraction of the overlying skin but it is not possible to guarantee that the skin tightens enough to be satisfactory. Liposuction is not a treatment for loose skin or cellulite.