According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were a total of 202,000 liposuctions performed in the United States in 2012, making the procedure the fourth most popular, behind breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (nose job), and eyelid surgery.
Given the popularity of the procedure, it should not be a surprise that advanced techniques have been developed to remove body fat more quickly and efficiently. The advent of ultrasonic-assisted liposuction is just one example of one of these cutting-edge techniques.
What Makes Ultrasound-assisted Lipo Different from Standard Liposuction?
With traditional liposuction, a series of small incisions are made in the areas of the body targeted for fat removal. A thin metal tube, called a cannula is then inserted into the body at these incision sites, and the excess fat is gently suctioned out of the body.
Prior to any type of liposuction, a technique called tumescent liposuction is used. The patient receives injections of a combination of lidocaine (a local anesthetic), saline solution, and epinephrine into the areas where fat is to be removed. This not only numbs the area but causes the fat tissues to swell up, making them easier to remove.
With ultrasonic-assisted liposuction, high-frequency ultrasonic waves are administered, via the tip of the cannula, to help remove the fat. Traditional cannulas are simply fat removal devices that suction fat out of the body; more specialized cannulas, such as the ultrasonic-assisted cannula, emit some type of energy to make it easier to remove fat, reducing trauma to surrounding tissues. The ultrasonic waves help to break up fat, collagen, and tough, fibrous tissue, thus making them easier to remove. Dr. Vincent Marin has found that the ultrasonic-assisted liposuction technique allows for the removal of more fat from the body, in a shorter amount of time and with less discomfort for the patient.
Recovery, Risks, and Results
During the first one to two weeks of recovery, patients experience bruising, swelling, and discomfort. By the third week of surgery, these side effects have faded significantly. In most cases, patients will only need extra strength acetaminophen for pain. Dr. Marin will give patients special compression garments to wear to reduce the amount and duration of bruising and swelling. Taking the herb Arnica montana may also reduce bruising. After the initial one to two week recovery period, patients can resume most normal daily activities, such as driving or going to work or school. However, patients should wait until three to four weeks after the procedure to resume a light exercise routine.
The risks from an ultrasonic-assisted liposuction procedure are relatively mild. The most common risks will be infection and bleeding at the incision sites. Antibiotics may also be given for seven to 10 days following the procedure to reduce the risk of infection. Avoiding strenuous activity and certain medications will reduce the risk of bleeding.
Most patients should see the final results of the procedure starting at two to three weeks following the procedure, once the initial swelling and bruising has begun to subside. Patients may still see some changes in their body contour as much as six weeks following the procedure.
*The content in this blog is developed to spread the awareness towards plastic surgery. Our blog is not intended to serve as a replacement for an actual in-office consultation with Dr. Marin. As such, the information within this blog reflects the unique cases of our individual patients.