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Liposuction - What You Should Know
If you're thinking that liposuction is a great way to lose weight, forget about it. Liposuction isn't about weight loss at all. It's all about sculpturing and contouring the body to remove excess fat deposits that aren't willing to go away with diet and exercise no matter how hard you try. It's about looking good in that swimsuit AFTER you've lost all the weight that you're going to lose.
Women love liposuction, but men dabble in it too. Women tend to have it done on their abdomen, thighs, knees, hips, chin or neck while men usually treat their neck, chest, abdomen, and "love handles."
In all but a very few isolated instances liposuction is strictly cosmetic which means your insurance company won't be footing the bill for your new belly or butt. Your insurance company MAY get involved, however, if your treatment is prescribed for certain medical conditions including enlarged male breasts in men and certain fat deposits, such as "buffalo hump" which is caused by a hormone imbalance.
Liposuction is a procedure whereby fatty tissue is literally sucked from under the skin using a hollow wand which is attached to a suction device. Local anesthetics and other compounds including saline, and epinephrine are administered to control swelling and bleeding.
Once the patient is prepared the doctor inserts the wand, called a "cannula" through small incisions which are made in the skin. They push and pull the wand through the fatty cells causing them to break up and to be suctioned off along with other body fluids. That's about as complicated as liposuction gets from the actual procedural point of view.
There are several different types of liposuction procedures in use. Each procedure is based upon the amount of fluid which is (or isn't) injected during the procedure. "Dry Liposuction" uses no fluid and is rapidly falling from favor. Next is "wet" where the doctor injects six to eight ounces of ephinephrine, and "superwet" which uses the most fluid. Basically, the more fluid that is injected during the procedure, the less blood that is lost.
While the liposuction procedure is relatively safe when performed by a Cosmetic or Plastic Surgeon, it is not without its risks and side effects up to, and including, death in very rare instances (about 20 out of 100,000). Infections have been reported in some cases as well as "seroma" which is a pooling or oozing of body fluid.
Swelling, bruising and locally painful areas are almost a guaranteed side effect of liposuction and you can expect to lose a week or more from work during recovery. In almost all instances the procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and you'll be home the same day.
An unexpected side effect of liposuction is that the fat can return and, often times, it returns to a different area from where it was removed. This is believed to be caused by drops in leptin levels. Leptin is a hormone that is made in fat. When the levels drop it signals the body to take in more food so that it can increase its fat levels to what it "thinks" is normal. This condition is most likely to occur in people who were overweight to begin with yet still sought liposuction as a hopeful "cure".
Any doctor can perform liposuction with as little as 30 minutes "training" on the equipment. However, since there is so much at stake, and the health risks are real, you should only consider treatment by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon or Board Certified Cosmetic Surgeon who has additional specialized training in liposuction.
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