Liposuction is a procedure used to remove fat deposits and improve cosmetic appearance.
For a liposuction procedure, a surgeon prepares the area requiring treatment by injecting a mixture of anesthetic, saline solution and epinephrine. This helps to reduce the swelling, bruising and blood loss caused by the operation.
A small incision is then made in the area and a tube called a microcannula is inserted. More than one incision may be required in cases where large body areas are being treated. This cannula is moved back and forth to break up the fat cells, which are then removed through suction using a vacuum device attached to the cannula.
After the fat deposits have been removed, the elastic skin can potentially retract, particularly in areas such as the stomach, breasts and arms. The extent to which the skin retracts is influenced by factors such as age of the patient (younger patients have greater skin elasticity than older ones), skin quality, smoking status, the presence of underlying health conditions and previous skin damage caused by surgery or childbirth, for example.
Patients who have a severe loss of elasticity before a liposuction procedure may need their redundant skin surgically removed after the operation. Other examples of procedures that can be used to address sagging skin include mastopexy (breast lift), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), rhytidectomy (facelift), thigh lift and buttock lift.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc