Liposuction (Suction-Assisted Lipoplasty)
Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. in Minnesota was the first plastic surgical practice in the upper Midwest to perform liposuction, teaching these techniques in the mid-1980’s to other plastic surgeons prior to it being introduced elsewhere, including the Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota. Being first does not automatically confer excellence, however, and our plastic surgeons continue to offer refinements and evaluate other techniques to help achieve better fat removal results for our patients.
Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. was also the first clinic in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area to offer ultrasonic liposuction for body contouring, which uses sound waves to liquefy fat for removal from the body. The new procedure, developed in Italy in the 1990s, differs from traditional liposuction in that it is a true “sculpting” technique for the body. Patients benefit from ultrasonic body contouring because it is more precise and controlled, causing less bleeding and bruising, as well as allowing more thorough fat removal with smaller cannulas. This, in turn, reduces swelling and irregularities during the healing process, giving a more smooth result with less likelihood for touch-up or revisionary surgery being necessary.
Much has been written and publicized about Mesotherapy, Lipodissolve, and laser, light, or other energy-based “new and advanced” fat-elimination techniques. Some of these may be harmless ways to reduce your wallet more than your fat, others may ultimately prove to be of some value in limited situations, or some may simply be unsafe as well as totally worthless.
We have always felt that the key to excellent results lies not solely with the tools, but more with the sculptor who wields them!
Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, LTD. does not offer all of these techniques for a reason—our plastic surgeons are not interested in unproven procedures or techniques that have not withstood the scrutiny of reputable, board-certified plastic surgeon/scientists in the peer-reviewed literature. Neither are we interested in doing “new” for newness’ sake alone, even if there are no advantages (other than marketing) over present state-of-the-art techniques that yield the best obtainable results. Our curiosity and awareness about these things have not overwhelmed our training, experience, and personal scientific approach to “New and Improved.” Although you may know of someone who has undergone one of these procedures elsewhere and is happy with their result, we have seen numerous patients who have had unsatisfactory results and irreversible damage after undergoing some unproven techniques or “new” technology utilized by a doctor who is more interested in marketing than patient safety or maximum effectiveness.
A word about liposculpture. Liposculpture is commonly used to market what sounds like a super-specialized, “new and improved,” more delicate and precise, (and of course, quicker-healing, less-bruising, and smoother result) liposuction. Yet, what every liposuction practitioner performs in the operating room as actually a form of liposculpture, which is why the term “liposculpture” is most commonly used purely for marketing! Just like regular sculpture, the tools are universal, but the true artists are rare. Think about how easy it is for anyone to use a hammer and chisel to put marble chips on the floor, and just how rare it is for a statue like Michaelangelo’s David to be left behind by an artistic sculptor.
With liposuction (or liposculpture), the fat removed is so often the (incorrect) focus—what is important are the improved contours that remain!
Candidates for Liposuction Surgery
Ultrasonic liposuction for body contouring is an excellent option for people of healthy weight who have one or several stubborn pockets of fat. Excess fat in the love handles, thighs, abdomen, or other areas can be removed with this procedure. The ultrasonic liposuction procedure performed at our Minneapolis Plastic Surgery differs from traditional liposuction, or suction-assisted lipoplasty, which uses mechanical suction to break up and remove fat by avulsion of fat globules. This old, large-cannula technique resulted in significant blood loss, dramatic bruising, and was plagued by more contour irregularities than we see with our present technology.
Our surgeons combine ultrasonic techniques with “tumescent” or “super-wet” lipoplasty, depending upon the individual case. Smaller cannulas allow more precise fat removal and true sculpting technique. With ultrasonic body contouring, patients can often return to work within a few days, depending upon the extent of the surgery and the nature of their occupation. All patients are up walking and carrying out normal daily activities within a day or so after surgery, though strenuous activities and exercise is prohibited for 2-3 weeks. As with traditional liposuction, fat cells are removed permanently.
Liposuction (any variety) is not a treatment for cellulite. Cellulaze™ is the latest technology offered at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery, Ltd. for the treatment of cellulite. In patients with both excess localized fatty tissue (for which liposuction is advised) and cellulite treated by Cellulaze, ultrasonic liposuction is best done first, especially if multiple areas are being addressed. After an appropriate time of healing, Cellulaze can then be performed at another operation for treatment of cellulite as well as to further enhance the results from previous liposuction. In some cases of localized fatty excess and cellulite, both can be performed together. Our plastic surgeons have the experience to advise you what surgical plan would be best in your individual circumstance.
Markings are made in the pre-operative area by your surgeon, and these markings are made in the upright position to determine the precise areas for fat removal and contouring. When asleep on the operating table, these markings are utilized to direct placement of tumescent fluid to constrict blood vessels within the fat, and plump-up the excess-fat areas for contact with an ultrasonic probe, or cannula, inserted through one or more short hidden incisions.
Ultrasonic liposuction works by delivering ultrasonic energy (sound waves at 33kHz, above normal hearing range) to the fat tissues beneath the skin. Ultrasonic liposuction does not “melt” fat cells—the energy is not thermal at all; rather it vibrates and ruptures the fragile cell membranes of the fat cells and fibrous areas adjacent to the ultrasonic cannula tip, allowing more efficient and smooth removal with smaller cannulas. The sound wave energy emulsifies the fat, which is aspirated through the cannula and removed from the body. The number of incisions made depends on the locations and amount of fat to be removed. Each incision is short and discreetly concealed, resulting in small scars that are usually inconspicuous and barely visible when healed.
After the tiny incisions are closed, foam pads and elastic garment(s) are applied to provide compression to the areas that have just had fat removed. The tunnels and pockets created by the removal of fat with liposuction cannulas will swell and collect blood and fluid if not compressed, so continuous compression is essential to close off these potential “spaces” so they can heal with as little internal scarring as possible. This reduces irregularity and lumpiness in the treated areas, and is why it is critical that you leave your garment in place for a full 5-7 days after surgery. During this time you will not shower or take a bath, but you can sponge-bathe. Even if there is drainage from the incisions (this is NORMAL for the first day or so after surgery), or you get urine or sweat on the garment, you must leave it in place to keep the operative site(s) compressed. Patients who feel compelled to ignore this instruction, even “for just a few minutes,” find that swelling is immediate and severe enough that they cannot get the garment back on, compromising their cosmetic result.
While liposuction can remove localized pockets of fat permanently, it should not be used as a weight loss technique, nor should it be used when skin tone is poor. For large abdominal fat deposits or loose skin, abdominoplasty, also known as tummy tuck surgery, may be preferable. Complimentary consultation with our experienced plastic surgeons can determine what recommendation is best for you.
Recovery and Results
Liposuction involves a similar recovery period to most cosmetic surgery procedures. Patients can carry out normal daily activities within a day or two after surgery, but should avoid strenuous activities or exercise for a full two weeks after surgery. During the first week, the compression garments are left in place, and the patient sponge-bathes. Sutures are removed after one week, and the garment(s) can now be removed and laundered (and the patient gently shower), after which compression is reapplied full-time (except when bathing) for a total of two weeks or until bruising is gone. Most patients wear compression for about three weeks total, after which a body shaper, or similar commercially-available elastic garment is worn as the tissues return to their new shape. During this time you may be referred to our massage therapist for external ultrasound and massage techniques to help reduce swelling and hasten healing.
Liposuction patient are typically able to return to non-strenuous work one week or less after the surgery, and it is normal to experience some discomfort or twinge-like sensations as the tissues and skin nerves heal. It is advisable to be up and moving immediately after surgery, continuing normal daily-life activities, but avoiding strenuous activity, lifting, or exercise. Some improvements can be seen immediately, but final results will take 4-6 months to emerge as the skin tightens over the treated areas. Careful adherence to diet and exercise are critical to obtaining your best result. The fat cells removed through liposuction are removed permanently.
Cost for Liposuction
The cost for liposuction is determined by the area(s) to be treated, as well as operating room, anesthesia, length of surgery, and post-operative garment required. Typically, treatment of one area of the body (such as lower abdomen) will cost around $4000. More areas of fat removal will require more time and increased total costs. Exact cost quotes are available after your complimentary consultation with one of our American Board of Plastic Surgery-certified plastic surgeons. Cash discounts and financing options are available. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation.