The roots of liposuction can be traced back as far as the 1920s when French surgeon Charles Dujarier first introduced the concept of body contouring and fat removal. However, after a procedure performed by Dujarier caused gangrene in the leg of model, interest in the concept of body contouring was lost in the decades following.
Interest in liposuction was reignited after European surgeons used primitive curettage techniques, although these were also eventually ignored due to the inconsistency of results. It was in 1974 that doctors Arpad and Giorgio Fischer working in Rome, Italy, developed the blunt tunnelling technique from which modern liposuction evolved.
Liposuction became popular in 1982 when a French surgeon called Dr Yves-Gerard Illouz presented the “Illouz Method,” which demonstrated a suction-assisted method for removing fat cells. Yves-Gerard used cannulas to inject fluid into tissue to break up the fat deposits which were removed using the suction device. The results of this technique demonstrated high reproducibility and were associated wit low morbidity.
Following this, another surgeon called Pierre Fournier, introduced the use of lidocaine as a local anesthetic, as well as modifying the surgical incision method and using compression techniques after surgery. In the 1980s, American physicians started to experiment with the technique and developed various sedation methods that eliminated the need for general anesthesia.
Towards the end of the 1990s, doctors introduced the use of ultrasound for liquefying fat so that it could be removed more easily. Developments such as this have led to improvements in the liposuction technique over the decades that mean fat can now be removed more easily and with less pain, blood loss and other associated complications.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc