Liposuction is a procedure that removes pockets of fat from the body to improve the proportions and shape of the body.
The liposuction procedure was first invented in the 1920s by two Italian-American surgeons and has steadily grown in popularity since. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 210,552 liposuction procedures performed in 2014 in the United States.
Patients may choose liposuction if they want to:
- Change the shape of the body
- Reduce fat deposits on the body and appear slimmer
- Get rid of fat pockets on the body that do not respond to exercise and diet
Liposuction is not meant as a major weight loss procedure. Patients who want to lose weight should consider procedures like gastric bypass surgery or sleeve gastrectomy.
Liposuction is most commonly performed on fatty deposits in the:
- Buttocks and hips
- Lower back
- Cheeks and chin
Liposuctions may be done as a single procedure or may be part of a larger procedure to redistribute fat into the face, buttocks, or other part of the body.
Liposuction is not an effective treatment for cellulite. Patients with cellulite will experience uneven skin textures after liposuction.
Patients considering this procedure will need to have insignificant amounts of excess skin and good skin elasticity in order for the procedure to be effective and to produce the desired results.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, in 2014 the average cost of liposuction procedures in the United States was $2,971. Most insurance companies will not cover the costs of liposuction because it is a cosmetic procedure.
Liposuction removes fat stores from the body using thin, hollow tubes called cannula. The surgeon will insert the tubes through small incisions in the skin and suction out fat deposits. While the basics of the procedure remain the same, there are many different techniques surgeons can use during liposuction process.
These techniques include:
Laser-Assisted Liposuction (LAL): This is a newer technique that uses laser beam light to break down and liquefy fat before suctioning it out. LAL reduces the inflammation and scarring that other liposuction procedures produce. There are many patented brands of LAL, including SmartLipo, CoolLipo, and SlimLipo.
Tumescent Liposuction: A specific type of tumescent liquid or “wetting solution” is injected into the fatty tissue causing blood vessels to contract. This allows the surgeon to remove fat with minimal blood loss and scarring. This procedure is usually done under a local anesthetic.
Suction-Assisted Liposuction (SAL): SAL is the most traditional form of liposuction and uses a cannula connected to a small vacuum to extract fat cells.
Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL): UAL is similar to laser-assisted liposuction but uses energy waves instead of laser beam light to break down and liquefy fat. UAL is better than other liposuction procedures at tightening the skin while removing fat.
VASER: VASER, or LipoSelection, is a slight alternative to UAL. It provides a more nuanced technology that will differentiate between layers of fat and surrounding tissues so it will not cause as much damage and bruising to surrounding blood vessels and nerves.
Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL): The PAL technique is similar to the traditional SAL technique but uses a specific type of cannula that vacillates at a rate of about 3,000 strokes per minute, speeding up the process and causing less trauma.
Twin Cannula-Assisted Liposuction (TCAL): TCAL uses a cannula with an inner tube (a tube within a tube) that both eliminates extra labor for the surgeon by replicating the surgeon's movements (and allowing the surgeon to focus and work longer), and eliminates excessive burning and bruising by reducing tissue damage from overheated cannulas.
Patients should discuss their liposuction options with their surgeon to determine the best technique for them.
The average recovery time for liposuction procedures is between three and ten days. Results of liposuction vary. While, the procedure permanently removes fat cells, but patients have unique responses depending on their body type.
Risks of Liposuction
- Change in sensitivity of skin
- Damage to surrounding anatomy like nerves, blood vessels, and organs
- Hematoma or seroma, accumulation of blood or fluid under the ski
- Change in texture or pigmentation of skin
- Skin necrosis, loss of blood and subsequent death of skin
- Unsatisfactory results
- Complications of anesthesia
Surgeons should discuss all material risks of the procedure with their patients before allowing patients to agree to surgery.
Medical Malpractice and Liposuction Procedures
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the death rates associated with liposuction vary between 3 and 100 for every 100,000 procedures. The FDA compares the mortality rates for this procedure with the mortality rates in car accidents. Regardless of the exact number, liposuction remains one of the more dangerous cosmetic surgeries.
The state of Maryland recently moved to join 27 other states that regulate where liposuction procedures can be performed to help reduce injury and death rates associated with the procedure. The procedure used to be allowed in medical spas or “medspas”. There are no national standards that govern the operation of medspas, including the level and amount of training needed by those who operate them.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injury as a result of medical negligence during a liposuction procedure, call the offices of Gilman & Bedigian today to schedule a free consultation. Our experienced attorneys understand the intricacies of medical malpractice cases and know how to best protect your legal rights as a patient.