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Liposuction, also referred to as lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, is the surgical procedure designed to sculpt or recontour one or more parts of the body through the removal of localized fat deposits. The abdomen, back, buttocks, cheeks, chin, hips, knees, neck, thighs and upper arms are all commonly treated areas of the body.
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This procedure can take place in a hospital, surgical center, or office using either local anesthesia, local anesthesia combined with sedation, regional anesthesia, or general anesthesia. The traditional form of liposuction begins with small incisions being made on the skin of the areas being treated. A narrow, blunt-tipped tube called a cannula is then inserted into the incisions. This instrument is then pushed back and forth beneath the skin in order to target and disrupt specific fat deposits which are then suctioned out.
There are a few more recent methods which can be performed along with traditional liposuction, including Power-Assisted Liposuction, Tumescent Liposuction, and Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction. Power-Assisted Liposuction, also known as PAL, has done away with the manually manipulated cannula, using instead a reciprocating cannula. Tumescent Liposuction requires the use of a large volume of fluid containing a local anesthetic and epinephrine which is injected into the fatty tissue, enabling it to become swollen and firm before being removed. Ultrasound energy is used in Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL) to liquefy the fat before removing it.
After undergoing the surgery, patients are typically able to return to their normal activities when they feel comfortable doing so, which can be anywhere from several days to several weeks, though more strenuous activities will need to be put off for at least a month. Potential complications which can occur with liposuction can include the following: allergic drug reactions, anesthesia reactions, aspiration pneumonia, brain damage, blood clots, cardiac arrest, excessive blood loss, excessive fluid loss, focal skin necrosis (skin death), hematomas, hypothermia, infection, perforation injury, permanent nerve damage, permanent pigment (color) changes, post-liposuction syncope (fainting), pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, scarring, seizure, seromas, uneven skin, and unfavorable drug reactions.
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