Both men and women can accumulate excess fat which cannot easily be reduced by exercise and diet. Prior to the 1980s, extensive surgery was required to remove such stubborn fatty deposits. In addition, treatment was limited to a few areas of the body, such as the abdomen and buttocks and involved substantial risks and a long convalescence. There were also no safe procedures generally available for removal of fat from the knees, thighs, ankles and other body areas.
In the early 1980s, dermatologic surgeons pioneered liposuction techniques to safely and effectively remove undesired fat from nearly all body area, including the face, neck, chin, breast, back, arms, abdomen, hips, flanks (love handles), inner and outer thighs, buttocks, knees and ankles. Liposuction also emerged as an effective treatment for many non-cosmetic fat accumulations, such as lipomas (benign fatty tumors) and gynecomastia (fatty male breasts), and to decrease sweating under the arms.
WHAT IS TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION?
Developed by dermatologic surgeons in the 1980's, a major advancement called the tumescent technique of liposuction completely revolutionized the procedure. Based on the use of local anesthesia, tumescent liposuction performed by a dermatologic surgeon can safely and successfully remove fat deposits with relatively little discomfort, virtually no complications and improved cosmetic results. It also is designed to be performed in the privacy of an outpatient surgical facility, omitting the need for hospitalization. Tumescent liposuction offers the benefits of fewer skin irregularities, less bleeding and reduced bruising.
Tumescent liposuction is not generally intended for weight loss but rather is a contouring procedure. It is best utilized in a program of exercise and optimal weight maintenance.
HOW IS TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION PERFORMED?
The procedure involves injecting large volumes of a solution directly into areas of excessive fatty deposits. The solution usually contains an anesthetic and adrenalin to shrink capillaries and prevent blood loss.
A small incision is made in the skin and a small, straw-like tube connected to a vacuum is inserted by the dermatologic surgeon into the fatty layer. Using to and fro movements, the fat is drawn through the tube into a collection system.
Tumescent liposuction performed by dermatologic surgeons is usually an office-based outpatient procedure. Potential complications from general anesthesia in a hospital setting can be avoided by the use of local anesthesia via the tumescent technique. Since the patient is awake, he or she is able to be optimally positioned throughout the procedure for accurate and thorough treatment. In addition, a costly hospital stay is not necessary.
IS TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION SAFE?
When performed by a board-certified dermatologic surgeon, tumescent liposuction using local anesthesia is a remarkably safe procedure with few significant side effects. Studies in the journal Dermatologic Surgery and other medical specialty journals and publications have demonstrated the following findings.
Physicians performing liposuction should avoid:
- Extracting excessively large amounts of fat
- Performing multiple surgeries in addition to liposuction
- Using general anesthesia or a combination of local and general anesthesia
The favorable safety record of dermatologic surgeons, who perform more than one-third of the liposuction procedures in the U.S., reflects their specialized training and sound approach to this surgery.
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND REFERRALS
For more information on skin conditions and treatments, along with a list of ASDS members in your state, please visit the Find a dermatologic surgeon section of our Web site.