Liposuction, also known as lipoplasty ("fat modeling"), liposculpture or suction lipectomy ("suction-assisted fat removal") is a surgical procedure which removes fat from many different sites on the human body. The fat is usually removed via a cannula (a hollow tube) and aspirator (a suction device). This technique was perfected in France in 1977 by the Dr. G Illouz and completely revolutionised Plastic Surgery.
Nowadays it is the most commonly performed Plastic Surgery in the world. Until now, in order to correct any deformities due to excess fat, the practitioner had only one technique in Cosmetic Surgery at his disposal. This was to surgically remove the body parts that were judged to be superfluous. These operations were traumatising and usually restricted to the stomach and thighs.
As soon as it was possible to reach the fatty areas through tiny incisions, a whole new perspective laid open to surgeons and patients alike. At long last it was possible to practically remodel the silhouette, soften the thighs, redefine a waistline, hips or knees, and even remove the excess fat in the buttocks and in the arms.
Nevertheless, there are some areas that do not respond well to aspiration and remain impossible or difficult (i.e. the inner thighs or the ankles). But, this procedure’s success has come up with new materials: thinner cannulas, aspiration through a syringe.
With the arrival of ultrasound, Liposuction technique is once more revolutionised.
Ultrasound is an acoustic wave (sound) with a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing, this limit being approximately 20 kHz (20,000 Hertz). Therefore, the human ear cannot perceive it. Ultrasound has been in use in medicine now for some time. This procedure involves the use of ultrasound vibrations for diagnosis and visualisation of what is inside the body. For example in ultrasound scans that are used in pregnancies.
A specialized cannula is used which transmits ultrasound vibrations within the body. This vibration bursts the walls of the fat cells, emulsifying the fat, in other words liquefying it, and making it easier to suction out.
After ultrasonic liposuction, it is necessary to perform suction-assisted liposuction with injected serum which then controls heat diffusion and the fat cells are suctioned out. There is limited bruising and little blood loss.
Suction is weaker than with the standard procedure (0,2 Atmospheres against 0,9) and the cannula movement is more subtle.
This procedure therefore allows surgeons to treat certain areas that would not respond favourable to the standard liposuction.
Ultrasound Liposuction has become very popular amongst Plastic Surgeons and their patients. This is mainly due to the many flattering articles featured in women’s magazines.
Like for everything, one must be careful. The decision to have an operation should not be dictated because of fashion.
The ultrasound procedure requires an anaesthesia which is longer than that used during standard liposuction. When the area that is to be treated can be operated on with the ultrasound technique the longer anaesthesia is not a problem, though if the standard liposuction can also give the same positive results, then there is no real reason to submit the patient to more drugs when the aesthetic results are the same. Here the surgeon’s experience is primordial as is the quality of the patient’s skin.