Once you (and your doctor) have decided that liposuction is right for you, you may have questions about what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. While, of course, every patient is different there are some things that almost every patient can expect.
Before the Liposuction Procedure
What you do before the procedure can really help you with the ‘after’ part of the procedure. Ensure you are as healthy as you can be; eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep; a healthy before = a healthy after.
Discuss the procedure thoroughly with your physician. Make sure you understand everything and have realistic expectations as to what the outcome will be. Share any concerns you have with your doctor so that you can feel entirely comfortable about the procedure.
Pick up any prescriptions for medications that your doctor may have prescribed. You may need to take antibiotics before your procedure (to help keep infection at bay) and your doctor may also prescribe pain-killers for after. It’s best to have these at hand rather than trying to pick them up when you may be feeling uncomfortable later.
Arrange to have someone drive you to, and home from, the procedure. You will be groggy and bandaged so it’s best to have someone take care of you for at least the first few hours after surgery.
During the Liposuction Procedure
You will see your physician on the day of the procedure; he will give you any last minute instructions and will mark the area of fat removal with a marker to better guide him during the procedure.
Depending on the type of procedure you and your doctor decide on, and the size of the area to be removed, you may be awake during the procedure (with a local anesthetic), or you may not be (with a general anesthetic).
Once you are anesthetized, an incision will be made where the fat is to be removed. Depending on the procedure, but most often, a mixture of saline, anesthetic, and epinephrine (used to limit bleeding) will be injected into the area. This helps swell, and dislodge the fat cells. A cannula (a small tube filled with holes and attached to a vacuum device) is then inserted and moved around the area with fat to be removed. Fat and saline are collected and measured by volume and weight to ensure that too much tissue is not removed.
The procedure can be very quick, or make take an hour or two; it depends on the area of the body, the amount of fat to be removed, and the body type of the patient.
After the Liposuction Procedure
Immediately following the procedure drains may be placed in the incision site, the wounds dressed, and a compression garment will be donned.
The drains are to remove any excess fluid that may remain in the cavity. They are typically left in place for 2-3 days to help alleviate any swelling and fluid build up that may occur.
Compression garments are designed to keep the skin and flesh compressed while healing occurs. While these may be tight and slightly uncomfortable, it’s important to remember that the best results are seen by those patients who wear them as prescribed.
Once the anesthetic completely wears off you may experience some pain. Take the prescribed pain medication and ice the area if the pain persists.
While there is excitement about the results of the procedure and what you look like, remember that there will be swelling and wounds for some time after the procedure. Results are not instantaneous; your body has just endured a surgery and will likely look worse before it looks better.
It will look better though; as your body heals and contracts you will be able to easily see your new shape.
Dr. Usha Rajagopal is an expert in the liposuction field. Call her office at the San Francisco Plastic Surgery and Laser Center for more information about whether liposuction is right for you.