Liposuction, popularly referred to simply as lipo, is the most common type of cosmetic surgery, performed quite routinely on thousands of patients worldwide. The procedure removes excess fat, most commonly from the stomach area, hips, thighs and buttocks, although many opt for fat removal in the areas of the neck and the chin as well.
Because it is so popular, medical experts dedicated a lot of time and effort into the perfecting of the procedure. The research resulted in the creation of a new technique called SmartLipo, which is an innovative approach to liposuction, utilizing a laser. If you’re considering undergoing liposuction, it’s important to be able to make an informed decision about the approach you will want to take.
What Do I Get Out of Liposuction?
Liposuction is a procedure that gets rid of unwanted fat in certain areas of the body by sucking out the fat from beneath the skin. The goal of liposuction is to re-shape the body, give it a slimmer appearance and accentuate certain curves. The procedure is popular among both men and women, and it is seen as a way to get rid of “stubborn fat,” which can often be resistant to diet and exercise, and it is a popular option for women after giving birth.
Liposuction is a purely cosmetic surgery and doesn’t replace diet or exercise when it comes to their health implications. If you have health issues which result from a poor and unbalanced lifestyle, liposuction might hide this fact on the surface, but it won’t solve any of the problems you have, which are not purely aesthetical!
Both traditional liposuction and SmartLipo should be seen as a helping hand, but not a permanent solution or a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. The procedure helps you reach your body goals faster, but it doesn’t magically replace the work that has to be put in to maintain a slim and fit look.
On average, liposuction affects your weight for up to six months, after which you will gain all the weight back unless you stick to a diet and exercise regimen, especially in the face. What’s also very important to note is that liposuction does not get rid of cellulite, which is something many hope for.
Liposuction Vs. SmartLipo: Procedure and Recovery
Both of the procedures can be performed either under local anesthesia (meaning you are awake but numb) or general anesthesia (which means you’re “put to sleep” and are unconscious during the entire surgery), depending on the extent of the surgery and your own preferences. Both surgeries result in the disappearance of “stubborn fat,” which gives your body a different shape and a more slender contour.
What differs between the two options are the technique and, subsequently, the recovery period.
Regular liposuction uses a cannula: it is inserted between the skin and the muscle, and the unwanted fat is then sucked out, either with a syringe or a suction pump. The length of the procedure depends on the amount of the fat deposits that are to be removed, meaning the number of incisions that are to be made, but it takes about three hours on average.
Depending on your age and weight, you might have to have an additional procedure that would get rid of excess skin, which could be left sagging after the fat has been removed. The quality of the skin is very important when it comes to liposuction, which is why you have to disclose any previous dermatological problems you might have had while discussing the procedure with your doctor.
The ideal candidate is said to have firm and elastic skin, is a non-smoker and is within the limits of their ideal weight (within roughly 30 percent).
After the surgery, you should expect soreness, swelling and bruising around the incision areas, which can last anywhere from one week to up to a month – again depending largely on the amount of fat that was removed, the area it was removed from, your age, weight and the condition of your skin. Make sure you discuss your own personal case with the doctor before undergoing the surgery, so you can know what to expect.
You will have stitches on your incision, which will be covered by bandages. You are allowed to shower, but not soak in baths until the stitches are removed. You might be given a drainage tube, which is a small tube inserted into the incision on one end and ending with a suction bulb on the other, with the purpose of draining any unwanted liquids that may build up in the wound.
You will also be given compression garments. Compression garments provide pressure on the wound, prevent bleeding and help maintain the body contour that the surgery creates.
As with every surgery, each incision made will leave a scar. Good surgeons, however, find ways to strategically place the incisions so that the scarring is both hidden and minimal. How your skin will react to the scars, how visible and how persistent they will be, depends solely on the quality of your skin. Treating the scars with ointments will help the recovery, but the only proper indicator of the nature of your scars are the scars you already have.
Different skin types react to scarring differently, and while some may have their scars fade away quite quickly, others are left with permanent and more visible scarring, redness or irritation of the scarred tissue.
SmartLipo uses a cannula in order to suction out the fat, just as regular liposuction does, with one major difference: the prior use of laser technology. In SmartLipo, the targeted fat deposits are first liquefied by laser heat. During a minimally invasive procedure, a small probe containing low-energy laser fiber is inserted into the area, and the fat is then melted. The liquefied fat is thus much easier to remove through the cannula.
One of the major benefits of SmartLipo is the effect of skin tightening, which liposuction does not offer. The heat from the laser provides skin-tightening benefits, which minimize the possibility of sagging, and is therefore recommended to older patients, obese patients or those with dry or problematic skin.
As the surgery is less invasive, recovery from SmartLipo is significantly faster. Full recovery can be realized in less than a week, and most patients are not in need of compression garments. If there is drainage, in most cases, the majority of the liquid is expected to be drained within the first 24 hours after surgery. The stitches are mostly absorbable, and in cases when they are not, they are to be removed within a week after the procedure.
Minor bruising and swelling are to be expected, but with the help of prescribed painkillers, all discomfort should be gone within several days. Two to three days immediately after surgery, patients are advised to be on bed rest and to avoid movement or heavy lifting, but they are expected to be able to resume normal activity within a week.
The scarring after SmartLipo is minimal or even non-existent. Any laser procedure leaves a small scar at the incision point, and the pace at which this scar will heal depends solely on your skin type and your general reaction to scarring.
Keep in mind that the laser fiber is only 1/8” in size, and if you are left with a scar, it will be about that size itself.