The History & Risks of Liposuction

by Ben on February 23, 2010

Liposuction, or lipo, is a fat sucking surgical technique. A surgeon uses a small steel tube connected to a suction device. The tube creates small tunnels in the layers of fatty tissue. These tunnels collapse and are suctioned out of the body, resulting in a smaller, more contoured body shape. Some common areas to be liposuctioned are the abdomen, thighs, arms, breasts (male and female), buttocks, hips, face and neck.

Liposuction as we know it today was invented in 1974 by Doctors Giorgio and Arpad Fischer in Rome, Italy. Fat removal, however, was a procedure that began in France in the early 1920s. High risks, gangrene, and even death slowed the popularity of similar procedures. During the 1980s, it was common for plastic surgeons to experiment and try to invent new methods of liposuction.

The “Illouz Method” created by Dr Yves-Gerard Illouz infused fluid into tissues. The “tumescent technique” from Dr. Klein and Dr. Lillis used a local anesthetic in more of an office setting and pumped large amounts of liquid into fatty areas. This early “super wet” method was considered too dangerous and was quickly nearly obsolete.

Later, it developed into a procedure using general anesthesia and smaller amounts of liquids and again became more popular. In the ’90s, ultrasonic energy liquified fat, but again, numerous complications caused the popularity of the procedure to die out. Today a modified procedure of the ultrasound-assisted method is used and while it takes longer, it causes less blood loss and often fewer complications. Laser assisted liposuction uses thermal energy to break down fatty tissue.

Recovery time usually ranges from two days to two weeks, depending on which part of the body the liposuction was performed on and which procedure was performed. Most patients will return home on the day of their surgery, barring any medical complications.

Today, it is common for a local anesthetic such as lidocaine and a sedative to be given through an IV. This cuts down on a patient’s time in the recovery room. Bruising, swelling, scarring, pain, and numbness are all very common side effects and usually improve over time. If a  patient has received numerous liposuction procedures recently, it is common for their skin to appear lumpy or dented.

Removal of large amounts of fat can be dangerous and even potentially life threatening. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “large” is constituted as being more than 5 liters. As with any procedure using anesthetic, there are risks of cardio problems, breathing problems, and possible even death. Surgeons suggest that patients not smoke for several months leading to their surgery and be in general good health.

A liposuction procedure can range in price from $1500 to $7000 depending on the procedure done and the skill and popularity of the surgeon. While important, customers who chose a doctor solely on the low price of a procedure generally end up paying for it in the long run. Incomplete or excessive liposuction, uneven results, skin depressions and large scars generally result from the “cheap” doctors.

For more information on liposuction, visit Sono Bello or subscribe to the Sono Bello blog!

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