161007 asktheexpert mainWe’re often asked about liposuction—what it is, is it safe, recovery time and the like—so we got in touch with CosMedicList and Dr. Shady Hayek to offer up the most authoritative answers.

Liposuction has been among the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery procedures for many years. Factors that contribute to its popularity include a fast recovery time, demand for a healthy, lean look and the relative safety of the procedure. Here are the most commonly asked questions and what you need to know about liposuction from an expert.

How is liposuction performed?

The procedure is usually performed by injecting a liquid solution into the subcutaneous tissues (innermost layers of the skin) of the area being treated. This solution contains an anesthetic to ease pain following the procedure and a vasoconstrictor to constrict blood vessels, helping decrease the blood loss. Because anesthetic is present in the injected solution, the procedure can be performed under local anesthesia if desired. The solution is injected through small openings of three to four millimeters that are placed in skin creases to hide them. After the injections are done, thin tubes called cannulas are inserted into the openings to suction out the fat.

Does liposuction hurt?

There will be pain following the procedure but it can be very well tolerated. However, certain areas might hurt more than others following liposuction. For example, if you have the procedure performed on your thighs, you’re likely to experience more pain compared to liposuction on your abdomen or arms. Most patients describe the pain as equivalent to a muscle spasm or a bruise. The local anesthetic in the solution injected prior to the procedure will help control the pain during the first few hours post-procedure, so you’ll be able to move around during that time.

What's involved in the recovery process?

During the recovery period, it is important to stay well hydrated, to move and walk around (don’t overexert yourself though) and to wear a compression garment over the treated areas. These steps will help minimize any potential complications, as well as decrease swelling and ease pain.

Are there any follow-up appointments required after liposuction?

Like any other surgical procedure, follow-up appointments are as important as the pre-operative planning and the surgical execution. Generally speaking, the first three appointments are meant to check for any possible immediate complications, such as infection or fluid buildup. Later follow-up appointments are made to check for patient satisfaction and potential late-appearing complications, such as asymmetry or residual fat collections. I usually see my patients at weeks one, two and six following an operation, with a final visit six months post-surgery.

How long is the recovery period on average?

In liposuction, the areas undergoing treatment as well as the amount of fat harvested play a major role in a patient’s recovery period. The most painful period during recovery will be the first 72 hours. After that, your level of pain will begin to decrease gradually so that by the second week after surgery, you can expect to go back to your normal activities. Swelling will noticeably decrease during the first six weeks post-surgery and will disappear completely in six months.

Do the fat cells that are removed ever return?

The fat cells removed during liposuction do not return. However, it is important to maintain a balanced diet and an exercise program after the procedure to prevent the recurrence of fat deposits in those areas treated, as well as other areas of the body.

Am I a good candidate for liposuction?

The main goal of liposuction is to remove abnormal fat deposits in certain areas that are resistant to dieting and exercise. For this reason, the ideal candidate for liposuction is someone who maintains healthy nutrition and exercise habits but has specific areas of fat deposits they’d like to have removed.

About Dr. Shady Hayek

161003 asktheexpert drDr. Hayek is a well-rounded cosmetic surgeon with a unique combination of skills that enable him to give his clients a natural and well-enhanced image for their face and body. Dr. Hayek has authored many articles and book chapters, has been a keynote speaker in several national and international meetings and is a reviewer and member of the editorial boards for several national and international medical journals. For a listing of his society memberships and the procedures he performs, please visit his profile at www.cosmediclist.com.