Surgical Fat Reduction in St. Louis
One of the most popular body-contouring procedures performed at West County Plastic Surgeons is tumescent liposuction. St. Louis-area women and men routinely choose it for fat reduction—and for good reason. Tumescent liposuction is the cornerstone of all modern liposuction techniques, with a history stretching back decades and marked by rigorous medical research.
Tumescent liposuction is marked by the practice of introducing a "wetting solution" into the area targeted for contouring. This solution is mostly a sterile saline solution, though it also contains an anesthetic. Together, these elements cause the tissue to firm up, restrict blood flow, and reduce sensation. These combined effects make it easier to remove fat cells, as well as reduce trauma and discomfort. Once the wetting solution has had several minutes to take effect, the fat either can be suctioned out immediately or treated first by an intermediate step using ultrasonic (ultrasonic-assisted lipo) or laser (SMART™ lipo) energy that liquefies fat and may have a skin-tightening effect.
When performed on the appropriate candidate, liposuction is a powerful body-contouring procedure. Potential patients should always remember that this strategy is not an alternative to diet, exercise, or weight-loss surgery. The best candidates have discrete areas of excess fatty tissue surrounded by areas of good skin tone.
Click here to view a video on liposuction.
The Liposuction Procedure
To remove the unwanted fat cells, a plastic surgeon will make an incision in the firm tissue, then insert a specialized wand known as a cannula, which is a hollow tube. The cannula can be moved back and forth to loosen fat cells, then used to suction the freed fat out of the body.
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) is used to improve the efficiency of the procedure and can be combined with standard tumescent liposuction, VASER LipoSelection, or SMART lipo. It makes use of a rapidly oscillating handpiece that serves to rapidly move the cannula through the fatty tissue, as opposed to manual effort. The end result is that the surgeon can concentrate on the task at hand: fat removal.
Anesthesia: Liposuction can be performed with the patient under local anesthesia in the office or under general anesthesia in the operating room.
Length of procedure: 1 to 5 hours, depending on the location and volume of fat to be removed.
Estimated recovery time: You can return to work after 2 to 14 days depending on the volume removed, and should avoid vigorous activities for 1 to 3 weeks. Visible bruising or swelling should clear up within 7 to 10 days. To learn how to prepare for the surgery and what to expect afterwards, click here to download our patient instructions.
Side effects: Common side effects include bruising, swelling, tiny well-hidden scars, and some numbness and itching in the treated areas. Click here to download a detailed consent form from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that lists the risks and benefits of liposuction.
To view before-and-after photos of liposuction results, click here.
Procedures to Complement Liposuction
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Frequently, patients wishing to improve the contour of their abdomen debate between a tummy tuck and liposuction. Some individuals can be candidates for either procedure, depending on their goals. An abdominoplasty is best for people with loose skin and lack of abdominal muscle tone who have undergone significant weight loss or for women who are dissatisfied with their shape after having had children and are looking for a so-called "Mommy Makeover." For these people, the abdominoplasty can be an ideal procedure for contouring the abdomen and is complemented by reducing fat on the sides, bra strap roll region, and thighs.
Short-scar facelift surgery. These procedures can be performed with the patient awake in the office or under general anesthesia and are designed to rejuvenate loose tissues in the lower two thirds of the face, from the jawline to the upper cheek. Combined with SMART liposuction of the neck, these procedures can effectively rejuvenate the neck and face without the patient undergoing a standard facelift.
Fat grafting. The fat that is removed via certain surgical procedures can be re-injected to replace lost volume in the face, including the lower cheekbone area, the folds between the cheeks and the upper lips, and between the jowl and the chin. The fat can also be used to correct other depressions or divots from previous surgery or injury.
Buttock augmentation with fat grafting. Fat carefully removed during liposuction can be re-injected into the buttock area to provide more projection and volume for individuals who are dissatisfied with their current buttock shape and size.