Sometimes it just seems impossible to lose body fat by any of the normal methods. We have tried exercise, but it seems like so much effort for such small results. We have tried dieting, but the weight goes right back on as soon as we stop.
Or we may have some problem area where we just cannot shift the fat. It could be around the belly, or the hips and thighs.
In these circumstances, some people turn to liposuction to lose body fat. But what is liposuction? Does it help you to lose body fat permanently, or is it just a temporary solution? Does it leave a scar, and what happens if things go wrong?
Liposuction is a short way of saying "suction-assisted fat removal". It is often called lipo for short. Lipo just means fat. There are also other names you may see, that may sound more technical. For example, lipoplasty (meaning "fat modeling") or suction lipectomy ("fat removal by suction"). As you can see, they all mean pretty much the same thing: sucking out that fat to model our bodies into a better shape.
Liposuction may be done on either local or general anesthetic. As usual with surgery, it's safer to have the local anesthetic, but that is not possible in all cases. It mostly depends on the areas or areas where you want to lose body fat, and how much they plan to take.
Liposuction was first done in the 1920s but at that time there were no antibiotics to deal with infections from surgical processes. One patient died, not from the liposuction itself but from gangrene that developed in the wound. There was a lot of bad publicity and liposuction was not practiced again until the 1980s.
Now, of course, it is a lot safer. It is also very popular, being the most common plastic surgery procedure performed in the USA in recent years. In most cases, it is performed under local anesthetic. The areas to be treated are agreed with the patient before the anesthetic and will be drawn onto the body while the patient is standing up (fat is more visible then).
Assuming the procedure is successful, patients who had a local anesthetic can usually go home the same day. Bandages and a compression garment must be worn for a while. There may be some swelling, bruising and scarring, all of which will gradually subside.
When a person wants to lose body fat, liposuction offers a quick and easy solution. Sometimes a doctor will even move fat around the body. It can be taken from one area such as the belly, cleaned, and then small amounts put into the face to reduce wrinkles.
As with all surgery, there are risks. There may be complications from the anesthetic, infection of the wound or an allergic reaction to medication. Occasionally, the instrument used to suck out the fat may damage an internal organ or there may be other complications.
Most plastic surgeons will only perform lipo on patients who have already tried to lose weight with diet and exercise, and only have around 10-15 pounds to lose. One reason for this is that somebody who is more overweight than that will have fat deposits all over the body, so taking fat from one area will not help them to lose body fat in the best way.