A Guide to Liposuction Surgery
Liposuction is one of the most common cosmetic operations in Australia as well as in America and the United Kingdom. In our brief guide to the procedure, we highlight several important things to think about when you are considering liposuction for body contouring.
Introduction to Liposuction for fat reduction or removal
Liposuction has been around for decades and remains an incredibly popular cosmetic procedure.
Liposuction is also continually evolving and has been called by several descriptive names including:
- suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL) or suction-assisted body contouring
- liposuction fat removal
- liposuction fat transfer (when used as part of Autologous Fat Transfer)
There are also different styles or versions of liposuction depending on whether a lot of fat is going to be removed (bulk removal) OR whether the aim is, instead, simply to sculpt or refine the contours of the body such as might be done in conjunction with surgery or other procedures.
Common areas where Liposuction can help the removal of excess fat deposits or ‘fat stores’
Liposuction is often preferred by patients for particular areas of the body that are prone to stubborn fat deposits (see infographic below).
The most commonly requested areas for Liposuction include:
- Upper body including areas on the back
- Abdomen, hips
- Middle torso area
- Inner or Outer Thighs
Liposuction is also sometimes requested for:
- Breast or sides of breast
Sometimes you’ll have only one area that you want treated (such as your abdomen or thighs). Alternatively, you may want multiple areas to be treated with Liposuction during your surgery session. Your Surgeon will help to guide you as to what’s best for your particular concerns and the outcomes you are wanting to achieve through Liposuction or combined procedures.
Get the Liposuction Guide
Limitations to Liposuction that you should consider early in your explorations of the procedure
There are limitations as to WHICH areas of the body or face that Liposuction contouring can be used for.
Liposuction is NOT a cure all or ‘go everywhere’ procedure
- A good Surgeon will help you understand WHAT might be the best surgical technique to meet your body contouring goals.
- Your Surgeon will take into account WHERE you are now in terms of:
- your existing body shape
- your typical fat distribution patterns
- your BMI
- your lifestyle
- your overall physique
- your skin’s elasticity levels
- numerous other factors that might impact on the suitability of the procedure and your recovery processes
Your Surgeon will also help you know how to best prepare for Liposuction if that’s the ideal option for what you’re aiming to achieve.
- It is possible that your Surgeon will recommend a different technique or a combined procedure that might suit your needs better than liposuction.
- This is because some parts of your body will tend to respond better to different surgical procedures or techniques rather than liposuction.
- In addition, some areas of the body or face might not be suitable for certain types of liposuction (or the cannulas) due to potential for injury to important tissues or structures including vessels or nerves.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure where a Surgeon uses a cannula to remove unwanted fat accumulations from various sites of the body. It can be performed on its own as a singular procedure for body contouring or body re-shaping. It can also be combined with a number of surgical procedures including:
- Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck or Belt Lipectomy)
- Body Lift Surgery
- Hip area body contouring
- Breast Reduction
- Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
- Thigh Lift
- Buttock Lift or Buttock Augmentation
- Face Lifts
- Neck Lift
It’s important to remember that Liposuction, whilst popular, has pros and cons just like any other surgical or non-surgical technique.
Be sure to discuss ALL of your options with your Specialist Surgeon and do your homework on the pros and cons of Liposuction, BEFORE you decide that’s the best procedure for what you’re wanting to achieve.
How does Liposuction work?
- During liposuction, a surgical cannula (see illustration) is inserted into certain areas of the body through small incisions.
- Because the cannula is small, these incisions are sometimes called ‘key hole’ incisions.
- The cannula is then used to, essentially, ‘vacuum up’ or remove fat cells.
- This technique reduces the total number of fat cells in that area – often broadly – and hence, reduces the tissue volume related to these excess fat cells.
- The result is less body fat beneath the tissues of the skin where the fat cells were reduced.
- This often results in a smoother, tighter and more contoured appearance in that area of the body or face.
What’s important to know:
To maintain the results, weight should be stable – and ‘Lipo’ doesn’t tend to work well where there is also excess skin or saggy, drooping folds of skin (e.g., skin that lacks sufficient collagen OR has been extensively stretched through weight gain or pregnancy).
Some Surgeons Use Surgical Excision and Other Surgeons Combine Liposuction with Excisions – but it depends on the patient and what your Surgeon believes will get you the best overall contouring result
Not all Surgeons use Liposuction and not all procedures or patients are suitable for lipo.
Is Lipo for everyone?
Liposuction, like other surgical procedures, is definitely not suitable for everyone. You’ll want to ask a Liposuction Surgeon, or your Body Lift Surgeon or Plastic Surgeon for their professional opinions as to whether liposuction is suitable for your body.
The questions to ask about Lipo are:
- Is LIPO the best option for what you are trying to achieve?
- Does your Surgeon believe you will get the BEST results from liposuction, liposculpture – or an entirely different procedure?
- What combined procedures will get you where you’re trying to go in regards to removing stubborn fat deposits?
- Are you a suitable candidate for this procedure or is there more bodywork to do beforehand?
So not all Surgeons prefer LIPO for body contouring, and not all contouring procedures involve liposuction.
But for some patients and selected surgeries, liposuction may assist in getting a better-contoured result or in finely sculpting areas of the body.
Who is a suitable candidate for getting a good result from Liposuction?
The BEST patient candidates for liposuction procedures are individuals who meet these criteria:
- Relatively healthy weight (ideally this means less than 10 kilos overweight)
- Dedicated NON smoker
- Stable weight over a long period of time
- Ability to maintain the same weight without significant fluctuations for at least 12 months
- Good nutritional intake
- Ability to absorb good nutrients such as minerals and essential food sources so as to maximise post-op healing
- Healthy and active (good cardio health/good circulation is often helpful)
- Regular exercise
- Not having significant excess fat or loose, saggy skin
- Skin with good elasticity (collagen) and which is resilient
- No residual excess skin folds
- Body fat only in those areas that are suitable for liposuction or liposculpture method
Ideal candidates should also be exploring the Liposuction or Lipo-sculpture solution due to having:
- Unwanted localised fat deposits (excess or cumulative fat stores) in certain areas of the body
- Lower Body & Abdominal area
- Unwanted fat is often distributed on the lower body
- “Love” handles or body fat around the middle is the most common complaint
- The Abdominal (belly) and Hip areas can resist efforts to reshape the body through exercise & good nutrition alone
- Arms and thighs
- Liposuction alone may be enough for some thigh (outer thigh) areas but not for all areas
- Lipo will NOT reduce excess, saggy or baggy skin on arms or thighs
- Often, surgery may be required rather than liposuction alone
- Some candidates may need a combined approach
- Lower Body & Abdominal area
- Breast area, back or bra strap area
- Upper back area often accumulates fat which can be uncomfortable or unsightly in certain styles of clothing
- Upper back fat can also cause bra strap indentations to form in the skin (as can carrying large, heavy breasts)
- Some people have ‘side breasts’ or mild asymmetry that might be remedied with lipo – but there are some specific risks with lipo in these areas
- Some breast reduction procedures and breast-lift procedures will benefit from some added liposuction or liposculpture
- Male breasts
- Some men find themselves with enlarged male breast tissue (Gynaecomastia/Gynecomastia)
- if they are good candidates for these procedures, liposuction may be a great solution for a male to get a flatter looking chest if that’s what they are wanting to achieve
What is Liposuction a great solution for in view of other available body contouring procedures?
Liposuction can be an excellent solution for SHIFTING, RELEASING or REDUCING unwanted fat stores in certain parts of the body in an otherwise healthy & weight-stable individual who has tried other measures to contour or shape their body.
Liposuction may be an ideal option for people who want to shift, release or reduce:
- Localised distributions (bulges) of excess body fat that don’t seem shiftable by other measures
- Fat stores that are resistant to exercise and good nutrition
- Unwanted fat accumulation
- Fat distribution patterns that result partially from genetic factors (inherited patterns of fat distribution)
Liposuction is not a substitute for getting a great body by being healthy.
Liposuction or Liposculpture, by itself, is not a way of losing weight (nor is it a substitute)
Other possibilities for reshaping your body should be explored thoroughly BEFORE you decide on a surgical procedure to help reshape your body for better contours.
Here’s what tends to work best for patients who are seeking Liposuction and wanting to be well prepared.
- Liposuction works best if you exercise regularly and control your diet on a regular basis
- Liposuction is NOT an alternative to a healthy lifestyle and you should keep your expectations REALISTIC and relative to where you are now
- You should ideally follow a relatively stable pattern of food intake (e.g. a healthy, nutritious diet) prior to and following liposuction to achieve long-lasting results.
- If you’re YOUNGER in age and have firm, elastic skin, you’ll tend to see a better final contour result after liposuction than if you have a lot of excess skin or skin with a lot of laxity, such as occurs with age
- You might be a less than ideal candidate for the Liposuction option if you are overweight (more than 10 kilograms) or have loose, inelastic skin
- Loose skin will not automatically reshape itself to your new contours (it doesn’t always ‘bounce back’) so you may require additional surgical techniques to remove and tighten your excess skin
- Body contour irregularities related to structures OTHER than fat, may not be able to be remedied or improved by Liposuction techniques
- Cellulite is not fixable with Liposuction on its own – don’t expect a significant improvement to areas of dimpled skin with cellulite
Liposuction techniques commonly used in Australia
Tumescent technique (SAL) also called the ‘WET’ technique or “WET” liposuction
- Your Surgeon injects a significant volume of saline (salt) water, local anaesthetic & adrenaline under your skin (in the area or areas being treated)
- This method may help to make fat removal easier
- This type of liposuction may also help to reduce post-op pain or minimise bleeding
Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction Technique (UAL and EUAL)
- Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) or external ultrasound-assisted liposuction (EUAL) are other lipo techniques that may be used by some Surgeons
- This technique may benefit removal of FAT that is considered ‘more fibrous’ – it may be more suitable for certain areas of the body
- UAL or EUAL is not necessarily great for all areas of the body and has not been proven to be MORE beneficial than other forms of lipo, liposuction or liposculpture such as the WET technique of Liposuction
The Procedure – Liposuction techniques: how fat deposits are removed using a cannula
- A sterile cannula (thin tube usually made of metal) is inserted by your Surgeon into the layer of superficial fat or deep fat
- The cannula will be connected to a clear plastic hose
- The hose is connected to a source of suction (somewhat akin to ‘vacuum’ technology)
- The surgeon skillfully manoeuvres the cannula through the deeper fat tissues as well as the superficial fat tissues in order to decrease the fat in that area
- this varies according to what part or parts of the body are being treated and to how much fat there is to be removed
- Your Surgeon will do so in a specific way or ‘pattern’ for best results
Liposuction is essentially DECREASING fat in certain areas, not REMOVING it entirely.
Fat is necessary for skin to maintain it’s shape or firmness. In fact, ageing faces often appear older due to a loss of volume that includes a loss of bone tissue as well as facial fat.
Removing too much fat from ANY area of the body or face/neck is a risk with less experienced Surgeons.
If too much fat is removed during Lipo, you could end up with loose skin – or with irregularities on your skin’s surface, e.g. noticeable indents or uneven distribution of fat.
Risks include that there could be damage to nerves and blood vessels during the procedure (there is typically minor damage, and your Surgeon will do everything he or she can to minimise this. However, you’ll want to consider this risk with Liposuction, as well as any other risks of having surgery. Be sure to get this information during your confidential consultation.
How Liposuction Helps contour (sculpt) your body
The sculpting effects of liposuction can be considered permanent but requires maintaining stable body weight. Fat cells can increase or decrease in size, but liposuction actually changes how many of the cells there are in that part of your body.
The area treated by your liposuction surgery is somewhat less likely to increase to its former size, even with weight gain, because it ends up having FEWER fat cells.
However, weight gain after liposuction surgery is quite RISKY.
This is because, when you gain weight AFTER your liposuction procedure, it is likely to occur in body areas NOT suctioned – as well as those that were treated. But it might be distributed differently in the treated versus non-treated areas.
So if your weight DOES change, you could end up with uneven fat distribution. So the key is to maintain a healthy, stable weight & a nutritional/exercise regime not only before, but AFTER, your operation in order to get the best results.
What to expect with Lipo (Liposuction)
Your Surgeon will tell you what to expect and where your surgery will be performed.
- Expect LIPOSUCTION to be performed under GENERAL Anaesthetic in a Surgical Facility
- PRESSURE garments should be recommended and ideally supplied for you for after your surgery
- PRESSURE (surgical support) garments should be worn AFTER liposuction for the period of time your Surgeon designates
It’s important to follow your Surgeon’s post-op instructions carefully – so be sure to ask any and all questions you have about what helps you make the best recovery from your procedure.
POST-OP CARE after LIPO
- You’ll have surgical dressings after your procedure
- Your FIRST change of your surgical dressings (and FIRST removal of your post-op support/pressure garment) is typically when you get your sutures or ‘stitches’ removed.
- You’ll still need to wear your pressure GARMENT for several weeks (2 to 6 weeks or more) AFTER your liposuction surgery
- This really helps contour the body shape and gives support during healing
- Ask your Surgeon how long is ideal for you to wear your garments, including how many hours a day you’ll need to wear them
- Watch out for dizziness on standing – as there will be some fluid loss during the procedure (blood & other body fluids) – be sure you have the “Seven C’s of Post-Op Care” in order before you have your surgery
- COLD – You’ll want to try to keep warm because some patients do feel cold after surgery due to having fluid loss and other surgery-related factors
- Whilst feeling a bit colder than normal – or even dizzy on occasion – is typically temporary, transient and normal after Liposuction, you need to be sure to let your Surgeon know ALL of your post-op symptoms and especially anything concerning you or your post-op care team
SWELLING, BRUISING AND WAITING TO SEE YOUR RESULTS
- SWELLING & bruising can be significant after liposuction
- Swelling & bruises tend to resolve over several weeks post-surgery
- Swelling is typically normal
- Bruising can also be extensive for some individuals
- Acute swelling & bruising DOES tend to subside within the first few weeks (2 to 3 weeks) after surgery for most patients
- Residual swelling can take a LOT longer to fully subside – hence you’ll want to be PATIENT with seeing your final results (this may take months)
- Be sure to take it easy after your surgery and treat yourself gently – nurture yourself and have a good care team ready to support you
- Post-Op treatments such as peri-operative antibiotics, postoperative massage or even ultrasound treatments may be recommended by your Surgeon
- There is no SET recovery time, just parameters that vary greatly from person to person – that said, don’t try to do too much too soon – and follow your Surgeon’s instructions carefully
- Returning to work and normal activities should not be done without your Surgeon’s approval and you’ll want to be very honest with your Surgeon about how physically taxing your work is – or whether it might impact your healing processes.
- Many patients CAN actually return to work after a few days or after a week – some take longer before they feel ready – it all depends on factors to do with healing, some of which are unpredictable
- You might need to wait several months before you can see the treated area reveal it’s final shape and contour after your liposuction experience.
You’ll need to stay healthy and maintain a stable weight for best results over the longer term.
Options other than Liposuction
Do investigate other options before choosing Liposuction, as it is a surgical procedure and all surgical procedures have risks.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s a replacement for losing weight or following good nutrition.
- Get fit in advance – and once you heal, get back into your fitness regime
Good nutrition and exercise regimes WILL help with overall reduction of excess body fat and with maintaining your newly contoured body.
- Depending on your skin and the areas being treated, excision of excess skin or fat may also be necessary to get the results, either in lieu of or in addition to liposuction
- Investigate the surgical options and if you do need excess skin removed after liposuction, be prepared for that
- Ask every question you have BEFORE you embark on the surgery or choose a Surgeon
All surgery carries risks. The majority of people who undertake liposuction surgery do not experience any serious complications; however, a minority of patients do. Remember there cannot be any guarantees in surgery and that because every patient is so individual, and every surgery procedure so unique, there will be factors involved with the healing process that can’t be controlled or predicted.
The importance of having a highly qualified Surgeon that you trust and are comfortable communicating with, along with a surgical team or organisation is known for offering long-term patient care excellence, should not be overestimated.
Also, your overall health and lifestyle WILL impact on the possible surgical risks and healing processes. Most of the risks associated with surgery can be managed, minimised or predicted. Some can’t, however. So your health and lifestyle are pivotal to the outcome of your surgery.
Advancing age also increases surgery risks, as well as smoking or being overweight. carries Conditions including high cholesterol, diabetes, heart and lung disease or high blood pressure can also increase your risks and impact or impede your healing. Be honest with your Surgeon about what conditions you have, and your lifestyle, so that you can prepare for the best results and help minimise your risks. Plus, with the right approach and good nutrition, you can even help follow and improve your ‘rapid recovery’ protocol that our Team provides you with.
Consent and wait time for Liposuction
Before you consent, you want to know what’s involved and the surgery pro’s and cons as well as potential complications or risks.
- Your Surgeon should offer you detailed information on the procedure and the risks
- You should have adequate discussion time and informative answers concerning potential risks of any liposuction or liposculpture procedure
- Your Surgeon should talk with you about possible complications – and how they would handle any complications that might occur
You’ll want to make a FULLY informed decision before CONSENTING to surgery. So if you have any questions whatsoever, be sure you ASK your Surgeon about these well in advance of your procedure date.
As of October 2016, there will also be new mandatory wait times for most cosmetic procedures. Even without those, you’ll want to be FULLY prepared for your surgery. So make sure there’s a suitable amount of time between your consult and information gathering and your surgery date. This can vary from patient to patient. That’s because each patient processes information differently and makes decisions differently. Just be sure you feel comfortable, respected and well informed before proceeding with any Surgeon Second consultations can also sometimes help you better understand the procedure in more detail; so don’t be afraid to meet with more than one of our Team.
Ask our team for general pricing information – or visit a Surgeon for a consultation to learn what specific treatment will get you the results you’re seeking and how much this will cost.
Liposuction Costs and Prices: Does your surgery include the post-op support garments and other post-op care? Ours does.
Key Risks of Liposuction include:
- Burst vessels in the skin telangiectasia
- Sensory disturbances
- Skin Surface distortion or residual irregularities (grooves or areas of depression or skin indentations)
- Cellulite and other modified fat distribution
- Post liposuction skin distortion or alterations of skin folds
One of the potential issues that might occur after liposuction is asymmetry. Before any procedure, if you pay close attention, you’ll notice that the two sides of your body are rarely ever symmetric anyway. The face and breasts are never perfectly symmetric. This is also likely to be the case after surgery. But the main difference is that as a patient, you’ll suddenly be highly focused on how your body looks after the body contouring. You’ll tend to notice every little nuance as you heal.
That noted, despite excellent surgical care, sometimes uneven amounts of fat might be removed from opposite sides of the body, face or neck during liposuction.
If so, there’s also the chance that early swelling or skin distortion can initially seem to disguise or hide the asymmetry. This can then becomes more apparent over the longer term healing period after your operation, when the swelling more fully subsides. Should this occur, you may require Revisional Surgery to help correct any highly visible imbalances or significant post-op asymmetry.
It’s also highly important for you to know that NO type or form of surgery can actually get you a perfect result. That’s partially because where you are NOW will impact your surgery results AND because there are factors in surgery and healing that are beyond control or predictability. We do all we can to ensure a great result, and to ensure you have realistic expectations, but there are no guarantees of perfection in anything that involves the human body, either before, during or after surgery.
Some other possible complications of the Liposuction surgery include:
Tissue Injury or structural injuries
- Blood vessels, nerves, the abdominal cavity and muscles of the body can all be injured during the liposuction procedure.
- Damage to internal organs is also possible; and has been reported by Surgeons, although these incidences are typically quite rare.
Skin laxity or skin redundancy
- Not all skin will firmly hug the body after the fat is removed through liposuction.
- How well your skin lies on the contoured body part after the swelling subsides will depend mostly on your skin’s laxity
- Elasticity is usually compromised by age and by what the skin may have endured in terms of excessive stretching such as during weight changes or during pregnancy
Solution: revisional surgery can excise the excess, saggy skin
Get the Liposuction Guide
Alternate Procedure if excess skin is a known problem: Tummy Tuck, Belt Lipectomy or Body Lift
Skin slough (skin loss)
- More of a risk when superficial liposuction is performed
- Results in a small area or patch of “full thickness skin loss”
- Skin slough problems can delay healing
- Or, if additional surgery is decided upon as a solution, a larger scar can result
- Might most often occur at, or relate to, the incision site (entry point for the cannula) or other entry-point traumas, including potential skin burns during ultrasound assisted liposuction
Seroma or pseudobursa
- The definition of a Seroma is a collection of fluid in the deep tissue layer; it is often light beige or ‘straw-like’ in colour.
- Seromas can resolve on their own at times (spontaneously)
- Large seromas can cause a lot of discomfort, however, and will require needle aspiration (draining) or even a surgical drainage procedure.
- If a seroma becomes a permanent pseudobursa, which is a fluid filled cavity, then it can actually cause a visible lump under your skin.
- A pseudobursa will tend to require additional revisional surgery to be removed, and this usually results in more surgical scars.
Less than Desirable Result
Some Liposuction patients report undesirable results due to having unrealistic expectations about having a greater change to their body after liposuction. Others note visible indentations or uneven results (asymmetry) or changes to the appearance or texture of their skin in the area being treated.
Fat embolism (lungs)
Fat embolisms are rare, but they can result from a fat particle entering into the bloodstream and then lodging in the tissues of the lungs, impacting lung function.
After Your Surgery
You will have dressings and a garment if you have had liposuction to the abdomen and lower body.
You can expect to have some discomfort when you wake up after liposuction. The discomfort will feel like bruising and will be worse with movement.
You will need to remember to move your legs to keep the circulation flowing and to take deep breaths to expand the lungs.
You will wake up wearing a garment. The garment may be a girdle, an abdominal binder or other support garment. The garment provides support for the abdomen, buttocks and thighs and helps to reduce swelling, bruising and pain post-surgery. The garment should be worn day and night for about 2 weeks after surgery.
It may be removed to allow you to have a shower. Depending on the advice of your surgeon, the garment may have to be worn during the day for 4 to 6 weeks following your operation.
You will need to take painkillers as provided. It is recommended that you avoid aspirin or aspirin based products, as they will promote bruising and bleeding.
The usual medications given in the postoperative period consist of panadol, panadeine, panadeine forte, panamax, digesic, and endone. These medications may be combined with anti-inflammatory medications such as vioxx, celebrex, or brufen.
Make sure that you have a postoperative pain regime at the time of discharge and that you understand the medications that you are taking and what they are designed to do for you.
One or two sleeping tablets (normison, temazepam, ativan) may be taken at night, if necessary, to help with sleeping in the first few days after surgery.
Your surgeon may prescribe a course of prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics.
Nausea and vomiting may be due to the anaesthetic or post-operative medication (like pain killers or antibiotics).
Medication to prevent nausea and vomiting may be required. If prolonged, nausea and vomiting may be related to a complication like infection and may cause dehydration. You need to inform your surgeon of prolonged nausea and vomiting.
Bruising of the skin in the areas of liposuction is usually maximal at approximately 48 hours after surgery. Most bruises will resolve by 2 weeks. Gentle massage with a moisturising lotion (sorbolene), or arnica cream may help to dissipate bruising.
Bleeding or ooze
There may be ooze of blood from any of the suture lines. Any ooze should resolve within 24 to 48 hours. Persistent or offensive ooze should be reported to your surgeon.
Swelling can occur for 6 to 12 weeks liposuction and sometimes, intermittent swelling may take up to 12 months to settle. Please ask your surgeon how long swelling should take to resolve. Swelling lasting longer than this time may be due to a complication and should be reported to your surgeon.
At home a mouldable cold pack or a small bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel may help to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain.
Cold packs can be applied to the areas of liposuction (for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours) in the first 48 hours after surgery to help minimise swelling and bruising. The cold packs should not hurt.
If cold packs are uncomfortable, don’t use them as often. After a few days gentle daily massage with a bland moisturising cream after your shower will help to resolve bruising and any lumpiness.
Dressings following liposuction are small may be removed as early as 24 to 48 hours after your surgery. Please ask your surgeon how long the dressings need to stay on.
Steri-strips or tapes may be present on the suture line and will need to be changed regularly. Check with your surgeon if you are able to shower.
Sutures may be beneath the skin and will absorb with time. The aim of absorbable sutures beneath the skin is to provide wound support for a longer time than skin sutures, so that scar stretch can be minimised.
Occasionally the body will want to extrude these sutures. A sore or a pimple on the suture line may indicate an underlying suture trying to break through the skin.
This suture can be removed as soon as it breaks through the skin. Antibiotic ointment or betadine may be required along with a small dressing until the area heals. Infrequently a lump forms related to a suture that has not dissolved (a stitch granuloma). This stitch granuloma may need to be excised as a local anaesthetic procedure.
Sutures may be present in the skin. These sutures will require removal at some stage after your surgery. The normal time frame is anywhere between 5 days to 14 days depending on the liposuction and the location on the body. Suture removal is usually arranged with the surgeon.
Some surgeons place Steri-strips over the suture line. Steri-strips are meant to stay intact and are usually removed one week after surgery. You may be able to shower.
Blistering from Steri-strips may occur. If this happens the Steri-strips will be removed and an alternative dressing will be applied.
Some surgeons prefer that the garment is not removed for the first week after liposuction. In this case you will have to shower whilst wearing your garment.
In other cases having a shower and getting your sutures wet may be permitted by your surgeon. You may be allowed to removed your garment for a shower.
An antibacterial soap (sapoderm, gamophen) may be recommended.
You will need to pay attention to washing the suture line . Suture lines should be carefully dried with a clean towel. If your suture line has steri-strips or tape, wash over the tape and dry it.
Occasionally the suture line may become red and ooze. If this occurs tapes are usually removed and antibiotic ointment or betadeine may be required. Your surgeon may prescribe antibiotics as well.
Some surgeons will prefer you to keep your sutures dry. Please check with your surgeon and ensure you follow your surgeon’s instructions about wound care.
Liposuction is performed under general anaesthesia and can be performed as day surgery.
If you are going home after day surgery a family member or friend must drive you because you have had an anaesthetic and someone should stay overnight with you for the same reason. You may need help from a relative or friend at home during the first few days after your liposuction.
If you have any questions about these matters, please speak to your surgeon.
The effects of an anaesthetic may still be present 24 hours after your procedure, even if you do not feel them. Your reflexes will be slower and you are at risk of injury. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of a drug (even a prescribed one) and you could be charged. Do not make important decisions or sign legal documents for 24 hours after an anaesthetic. Take care with alcohol intake after surgery because medications and alcohol may interact with the residual anaesthetic. Discuss your normal medications with the anaesthetist.
Readmission to hospital
Rarely you may need to be re-admitted unexpectedly to hospital. The most common cause is persistent nausea and vomiting, anxiety, the need for unexpected additional pain relief or for treatment of unexpected complications of surgery such as bleeding, wound problems or infection.
Limit Your Activity
Too much activity too soon will risk delays in healing or increase the risk of complications. Try to walk around slowly and avoid any straining or rushing around.
You may go to the bathroom, walk around the house sit and watch TV, etc., but no matter how good you feel do not clean the house, engage in heavy manual work, go to the gym etc. for 4 weeks following your surgery. This also applies to sexual activity.
Exercise and Sport
Slow walking on the flat for exercise is often therapeutic in the early post-operative period. Your body will dictate whether you are able to safely recommence your exercise program. More strenuous exercise like fast walking, running or swimming may commence after 4 to 6 weeks.
More strenuous exercise like tennis or contact sports can commence after 6 to 8 weeks. As a general rule: if it hurts, don’t do it.
Please ask your surgeon when you can start exercising.
Localised sore areas are not uncommon after liposuction. Massage may resolve bruising, lumpiness and any localised sore areas after liposuction.
Avoid sun exposure
If fresh scars are exposed to the sun, they will tend to become darker and take longer to fade. Sunscreen on sun-exposed scars can help to fade scars. Take extra care and precautions if you are planning to tan, as some areas of your body may be temporarily numb after surgery and you will not “feel” a sunburn developing.
Watch your Diet
Your post-operative diet should consist of fluids initially then soft food that is easy to prepare. If you have any postoperative nausea, carbonated drinks and dry crackers may settle the stomach. Small frequent meals will be more suitable and comfortable.
Although not proven, there is some suggestion that multivitamins prior to and after surgery may aid in wound healing. Avoid mega dosing on vitamins prior to surgery.
Smoking reduces capillary blood flow to the skin and may result in delays to wound healing or complications of your liposuction.
Smoking not only affects wound healing; it also increases the risk of bleeding, wound infections, post-operative chest infections. Smoking also increases the risk of developing a blood clot in the legs that can travel to the lungs. It is recommended that you cease smoking at least 4 weeks prior to your surgery and for 4 weeks after.
Medications and alcohol may interact with residual anaesthetic and prescription pain medicine.
Alcohol also dilates blood vessels and may increase the risk of postoperative bleeding.
It is recommended that you avoid alcohol for the first three days after surgery and restrict your alcohol intake for the first month.
It is recommended that you do not drive for a certain period of time after liposuction. To be able to drive safely you must have full use of your reflexes to drive, and any post-operative discomfort will inhibit your reflexes.
If pain will inhibit them, don’t drive. In the interest of safety whilst driving, and legally, you must wear a seat belt across the chest.
You may resume driving when you feel you are able, but it is advisable to discuss this with your surgeon or check with the road traffic authority first.
You must allow yourself adequate recovery time. You will have restriction to mobility for up to one week. Too much activity too soon will increase the risk of complications such as bleeding, infection and delayed healing. It would be wise to ensure you have adequate time off work. You must also allow sufficient time for your body to recover from the effects of anaesthesia and surgery. Discuss the expected time for recovery with your surgeon prior to your surgery and allow plenty of time for adequate recovery.
Everyone heals at a different rate. The ability to heal is variable and depends upon a number of factors such as your genetic background, your weight, your overall state of health and lifestyle (exercise, diet, smoking, drinking, etc.). Your attention to preparing yourself for surgery will be manifest in your post-operative recovery. Many people believe the surgeon “heals” the patient. Not one person can make another heal. Your cooperation and close attention to pre and postoperative instructions is extremely important and is in your best interest.
A major factor in the course of healing is whether you follow the instructions given by your surgeon and the nurses in the surgery.
Such guidelines are designed to promote the healing process and to prevent the occurrence of anything that may interfere with your recovery.
It is imperative that you recognise that you are a partner in this process and have a responsibility to follow instructions carefully.
The instructions, based on broad experience, are designed to give you the best opportunity for healing without delay or surprise.
Depression is a normal reaction to surgery. The third day following your surgery may be the worst. You may be teary. It is not uncommon to experience a brief period of “let-down” or depression after any surgery.
You may subconsciously have expected to look and feel better “instantly,” even though you rationally understood that this would not be the case.
Day 3 post-surgery may be the worst. As healing occurs, these thoughts usually disappear quickly.
If you feel depressed, understanding that this is a “natural” phase of the healing process may help you to cope with this emotional state.
Support from family and friends
Support from family and friends can be very helpful, but because they may not understand what constitutes a normal postoperative course, their comments may unintentionally create emotional turmoil for you.
The staff at the surgery and your surgeon will tell you honestly how you are doing and what to expect.
Please trust in your surgeon’s knowledge and experience when your progress is discussed with you.
Complications are infrequent. When complications occur, it is seldom a consequence of poor surgery or poor postoperative care. Complications are more likely to be a result of the variable healing capacity or a failure to follow post-operative instructions. You will be assisted in every way possible if a complication occurs.
Should the unexpected occur, please understand that it is important to follow the advice of your surgeon and nursing staff in order to treat it as effectively as possible. Your surgeon and the nursing staff will ensure that you have support and assistance during this difficult time.
Your Surgeon can explain what potential alternatives are available to you when you attend your consultation. OR, if you want to discuss your liposuction questions preliminary with a Patient Care Coordinator, they can often answer questions of a general nature. Just send an enquiry to: email@example.com. For Liposuction or Surgical information specific to YOU and YOUR body, you’ll want to schedule an in-person consultation with Dr Rohit Kumar fro his Melbourne clinic.