Liposuction is also called liposculpture or suction assisted lipectomy (SAL).
Liposuction is a surgical procedure used to remove fat accumulations from specific sites of the body.
The procedure can be performed alone for body contouring or it can be combined with other surgical procedures like abdominoplasty, thigh/buttock lift or facelift.
The best candidates for liposuction are individuals of relatively normal weight (or no more than 10 kilograms overweight) who have localised excess fat deposits in particular body areas. Liposuction may be an option for men and women who want to reduce localised bulges of fat that have resisted dieting and exercise and it by itself is not a way of losing weight.
Liposuction works best for those who exercise and control their diet on a regular basis. A stable diet should be maintained prior to and following liposuction to achieve long lasting results.
Those people who are younger in age and have firm, elastic skin will see a better final contour after liposuction.
The less than ideal patient is older, overweight (more than 10 kilograms) and has loose, inelastic skin.
Loose skin will not reshape itself to the new contours and may require additional surgical techniques to remove and tighten excess skin.
Body contour irregularities due to structures other than fat cannot be improved by this technique.
Liposuction itself will not improve areas of dimpled skin known as "cellulite".
Various liposuction techniques
- The tumescent (wet) technique (SAL) involves injection of a significant volume of salt water, local anaesthetic and adrenaline under the skin just prior to the liposuction. This technique makes it easier for the fat to be removed and may contribute to minimising bleeding and pain following the procedure.
- Ultrasound assisted liposuction (UAL) is another technique. This type of liposuction is good for harder more fibrous fat in areas like the back or breasts. UAL has unknown effects in the breast and may potentially have greater and more serious complications than other techniques without convincingly greater benefit for results.
- The techniques of external ultrasound assisted liposuction (EUAL) or external ultrasound without fat extraction have not as yet proved to be of any benefit.
During liposuction, fat deposits are removed using a thin metal tube called a cannula, which is inserted into the layer of superficial fat or deep fat. The cannula is connected to a clear plastic hose, which leads to a suction source.
The surgeon moves the cannula in a specific pattern through the deep fat and/or superficial fat, depending on which area in the body is being treated.
The intention is to decrease the bulk of the fat in the area, but not to remove all the fat.
Fat is an important tissue, which helps to maintain skin shape and firmness. Removal of too much fat can result in loose skin and surface irregularities.
Although the cannula is designed to slide through the fat and tissues in order to cause minimal damage to nerves and blood vessels, some may be damaged during the procedure.
The sculpting effects of liposuction are permanent and a specific area treated by liposuction is less likely to increase to its former size because it has fewer fat cells.
If weight gain is experienced after liposuction, it will occur in body areas not suctioned as well as those treated.
Liposuction is commonly performed under general anaesthetic.
A pressure garment is applied and should be worn after liposuction.
The first change of dressings or removal of the garment is at the time of suture removal. The garment should be worn for 2 to 6 weeks after liposuction to help contour the body shape.
Dizziness on standing and a feeling of being cold may occur after liposuction. This relates to fluid and blood loss and is transient.
Significant swelling and bruising is normal and although most bruising will subside within the first 2 weeks after surgery residual swelling takes longer to subside.
Other treatments such as peri-operative antibiotics, postoperative Endermologie or massage and ultrasound treatments can be used in accordance with the surgeon's preference.
Returning to work and normal activities is an individual matter. Most people can return to work after a few days, or longer if required.
It may be several months before the treated area takes on its final shape and contour.
After liposuction you need to maintain a healthy lifestyle - this includes regular exercise and a proper diet to maintain the improvements achieved.
Liposuction is an elective surgical procedure and alternative forms of treatment consist of not treating the areas of fatty deposits.
Diet and exercise regimes may be of benefit in the overall reduction of excess body fat.
Excision of excess skin and fat may be necessary as alternative treatment or in addition to liposuction in some people.
Risks and potential complications are associated with alternative forms of therapy that involve surgery.
Risks of Surgery
All surgery is associated with some risk
It is important that you understand that there are risks involved with any surgery.
Whilst the majority of individuals undergoing surgery do not experience any complications, a minority do and there cannot be any guarantees in surgery.
With every type of surgery the best possible outcome is sought. The importance of having a highly qualified surgeon and professional surgical team and facility cannot be overestimated.
Risk to benefit
The choice to undergo a surgical procedure should be based on the comparison of the risk to the potential benefit to you.
Make sure that you take time to read and understand how each potential complication can impact on your life and try to try to make the risk to benefit comparison specifically for yourself.
Informed consent process
Before any surgery, your surgeon should explain to you the risks of the procedure and the possible complications that could happen. The informed surgical consent web site will help you to understand the risks that your surgeon has already discussed. It may also bring up other issues that will require a second surgical consultation to clarify. You should not feel that you are being an inconvenience by seeking another consultation and clarification of any questions that you may have.
You should take the opportunity to read this informed surgical consent website carefully and at your own pace. The questionnaire at the end will help to clarify your understanding. There is also opportunity to make note of specific concerns and issues that may be relevant to you so that you can discuss these concerns with your surgeon.
Impact of complications
The risks of surgery involve possible inconvenience if a complication occurs. It may result in an extension of your recovery period and in some cases may need further surgery. Infrequently, complications may have a permanent effect on your final result.
Financial risks are involved with any surgery. Private health insurance is strongly recommended. If you do not have private health insurance then a complication or further surgery will add to the overall cost of your surgery.
Risks related to general health
Your general health will impact on the possible risks of surgery. Many of the risks associated with surgery can be predicted, however your general health plays a vital role to the outcome of your surgery. Age carries a greater risk with any surgery. Being overweight carries a greater surgical risk. Other medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart and lung disease may also increase your surgical risk.
Smoking greatly increases all risks and complications of surgery.
Finally other factors, that may not be obvious, can influence the outcome of your surgery and the risks are beyond anyone's control.
Risks Specific to Liposuction
Swelling and bruising
Moderate swelling and bruising are normal after liposuction. A compression garment is normally recommended to reduce swelling and bruising. Severe swelling and bruising may indicate a garment that is too tight, bleeding or possible infection.
Burst vessels in the skin
Increased telangiectasia or small skin surface vessels may be seen after liposuction in the lower leg or ankle.
Long term discolouration
Increased skin pigmentation may appear following excessive bruising, haematoma or skin slough (skin loss).Sun exposure when the skin is bruised will worsen the discolouration. The discolouration is more common in tight areas of the body like the posterior thighs, ankles and lower arm. Resolution of hyperpigmentation occurs slowly and may take up to 2 years to resolve. Skin bleaching creams may improve any discolouration. The skin may be discoloured permanently.
Discomfort and pain
Mild to moderate discomfort or pain is normal after liposuction. If the pain becomes severe and is not relieved by pain medication you may have a compression garment that is too tight or a complication. Massage, exercise and anti-inflammatory tablets may help relieve any pain.
Bruising or small collections of blood under the skin usually resolve spontaneously. Extensive bruising after superficial liposuction or ultrasound assisted liposuction may result in permanent skin pigment changes.
Small incisions will be present and they will remain as small permanent scars. Permanent scars can be inverted, discoloured or conspicuous. The scars on the body may be red and raised for 3 to 6 months after liposuction and may take up to 2 years to fade completely. Some areas on the body scar more than others, and some people scar more than others. Your own history of scarring should give you some indication of what you can expect. Injection of steroids into the scars, taping and placement of silicone sheeting onto the scars, or further surgery to correct the scars is occasionally necessary. Scars after ultrasound assisted liposuction are longer than other liposuction techniques and may have burn changes around them.
Small sensory nerves to the skin surface are occasionally disrupted during liposuction. The sensory changes that may be experienced are usually temporary and return of sensation may sometimes take up to 18 months. Ice, skin moisturisers and massages are frequently helpful. Some liposuction techniques (superficial/ultrasound assisted) may result in permanent sensory changes in the operated areas.
Surface irregularities in the skin
Grooves and surface irregularities may appear after liposuction. When a depression occurs it is permanent. Autologous fat injection may be required to correct the depression. Fat injection will require additional surgery.
Waviness in the skin relates to fat that is stored in compartments just under the skin surface. It is oestrogen dependent. It may remain after liposuction or appear worse after liposuction.
Post liposuction distortion
Large volume liposuction may cause distortion of the inner thighs hips or buttock folds. Revisional liposuction or surgery may be required to correct the distortion.
Occasionally, despite care being taken, an uneven amount of fat is removed from the opposite side. Although the surgeon tries to prevent this as much as possible during surgery, immediate operative swelling and distortion may hide the asymmetry, which only becomes evident in the long-term following liposuction. Revisional surgery may be required to correct the problem.
Post liposuction skin redundancy
This complication relates to skin laxity and poor skin retraction after liposuction. Revisional surgery may be required and will involve excision of excess skin.
Seroma and pseudobursa formation
A seroma is a collection of straw coloured fluid in the deep tissue layer. A seroma may spontaneously resolve. Larger seromas causing discomfort will require needle aspiration or surgical drainage. A seroma may become a permanent pseudobursa (fluid filled cavity) and cause a visible lump under the skin. A pseudobursa will require additional surgery and scarring to remove.
Skin slough is a small patch of full thickness skin loss. This occurs more often with superficial liposuction. The areas of skin slough will delay healing when treated conservatively. When additional surgery is required a larger scar will result. Skin slough following ultrasound assisted liposuction may be the result of burns at the incision site or anywhere in the area of liposuction.
You may be disappointed with the results of liposuction despite having an adequate surgical result. Reasons for the undesirable result include an expectation for greater change to body contour, visible indentations of contour, uneven results or visible skin surface changes.
Injury to deeper structures
Blood vessels, nerves and muscles may be injured during liposuction. Perforation of thoracic or abdominal cavities and damage to internal organs has been reported. The incidence of such injuries is rare.
A fat embolism results from a fat particle entering the blood stream and lodging in the lungs. This affects lung function. The incidence of this complication is rare.
Risks Common to All Operations
Discomfort and pain
The severity and duration of post-operative pain varies with each individual. Mild to moderate discomfort or pain is normal after any surgery and can be expected after liposuction. Pain will be worse with movement if liposuction has been performed on the lower half of the body. If the pain becomes severe and is not relieved by pain medication you may have a complication. In this case you should contact your surgeon.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting typically relate to the anaesthetic and usually settles quickly. In some cases persisting nausea and vomiting may relate to pain relieving medication or other medications like antibiotics. Infection may also cause nausea and vomiting. If nausea and vomiting persist you may develop dehydration. You should contact your surgeon if nausea and vomiting persist.
Swelling and bruising
Moderate swelling and bruising are normal after any surgery and can be expected after liposuction. Severe swelling and bruising may indicate bleeding or possible infection. Discolouration from bruising may take several weeks to resolve.
Swelling and bruising are expected to settle faster by wearing a tight fitting girdle or garment and with application of arnica ointment to the abdominal skin for the first 4 to 6 weeks following the operation.
Intermittent swelling after liposuction may persist for up to 12 months after surgery.
Bleeding and haematoma
Bleeding is always possible after any operation. Some bleeding will result in bruising. Continued bleeding may result in continuous ooze from the suture lines or may result in a collection of blood under the skin. You should notify your surgeon if bleeding after surgery persists.
Small collections of blood under the skin usually absorb spontaneously. A large collection of blood (haematoma) is uncommon after liposuction and may produce pressure and complications to healing of the skin.
Most haematomas occur in the first 24 hours and may require aspiration or surgical drainage in an operating room and a general anaesthetic to drain the accumulated blood.
The presence of a haematoma, even if evacuated, may predispose to infection and antibiotics are often recommended. Infrequently haemorrhage or increased bruising can happen 7 to10 days following liposuction. Possible factors for late bleeding include infection, extreme physical exertion, aspirin ingestion or an un-recognized bleeding disorder.
Aspirin, anti- inflammatory tablets and mega doses of certain vitamins (vitamin E) can influence blood clotting and cause excessive bleeding. It is recommended that you do not take any aspirin, similar drugs like cartia, astrix or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for ten days before surgery, as this contributes to a greater risk of bleeding, bruising, swelling and infection. A single tablet is enough to increase the risk of bleeding.
If you take an anticoagulant like heparin or warfarin, you will need to discuss these medications with your surgeon prior to your liposuction.
Hypertension (high blood pressure) that is not under good medical control may also cause bleeding during or after surgery.
Yellow fluid (seroma) may accumulate under the skin in areas that have had ultrasonic liposuction in the first month following surgery.
The accumulated fluid will cause swelling and pain in the affected areas.
While the body absorbs small seromas with rest, larger ones need needle drainage or additional surgery to drain the fluid from under the skin.
A seroma may contribute to infection.
Inflammation and infection
Infection may occur after any surgery.
Most infections occur within 3 to 5 days after surgery and may cause swelling, redness and tenderness in the skin where there has been liposuction and around the suture lines. A surface infection may only require antibiotic ointment.
Occasionally an offensive discharge may occur from the suture line. Deeper infections will require treatment with antibiotics.
Infection may cause wound breakdown or skin slough (loss). Both wound breakdown and skin slough will result in delays to healing and possible increase in scarring.
Additional surgery to deal with wound breakdown and skin slough will be required. Additional surgery may involve skin grafting. More scarring, and further surgery can be expected in the long term.
Some surgeons will prescribe prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics to be used around the time of liposuction.
Crusting along incision lines
Crusting along suture lines should be prevented with frequent and regular washing of your suture lines with antibacterial soap (sapoderm, gamophen) and application of antibiotic ointment or soft white paraffin if required.
Careful drying of the suture lines with a clean towel will be required to prevent moisture.
Small sensory nerves to the skin surface are occasionally disturbed when liposuctions performed. Numbness or strange tingling sensations of the skin after liposuction usually resolves within 3 months as the nerve endings heal spontaneously. Return of sensation to normal may sometimes take up to 2 years and may be permanent.
Itching and occasional small shooting electrical sensations within the skin frequently occur as the nerve endings heal. Ice, skin moisturisers and massages are frequently helpful. These symptoms are common during the recovery period and may persist for several weeks after surgery.
Necrosis is the formation of dead fatty tissue under the skin. Fat necrosis occurs more commonly after ultrasonic liposuction and may prevent wound healing and require surgical correction.
Unsatisfactory scarring may occur following necrosis.
Factors associated with increased necrosis include infection and smoking.
Wound separation or delayed healing
Any surgical wound, during the healing phase may separate or heal unusually slowly for a number of reasons. This can occur as a result of inflammation, infection, wound tension, excess external pressure and decreased circulation. Some people may experience slow healing due to unrelated medical problems. Smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
Wound separation may also occur after suture removal.
Wound separation will require frequent wound dressings and healing will be delayed. If delayed healing occurs, recovery time will be prolonged, (weeks to months), and the final outcome of surgery may be affected. More scarring can be expected.
Further surgery may be required to remove any non-healed tissue and to obtain wound closure. Skin grafting may also be required to achieve wound closure.
Poor scars will result following wound healing problems and additional surgery may be desired 6 to 12 months after the initial surgery to improve scarring.
Increased risk for smokers
Smokers have a greater chance of infection, skin slough (loss), underlying fat loss (necrosis), and poor wound healing, because of decreased skin circulation. Bleeding and haematoma formation are more common in smokers than non-smokers.
Smoking also predisposes to life threatening complications like deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, pneumonia or massive infection.
It is strongly recommended that you cease smoking 4 weeks prior to and 4 weeks after your surgery.
Sensitivity or allergy to dressings and tape
Skin or localised allergies may occur to topical antiseptic solutions, suture materials, soaps, ointments, tapes or dressings used during or after surgery. Such problems are unusual and are usually mild and easily treated. Please advise your surgeon of any skin irritation, itch, blisters or redness that may develop beneath your dressings. Allergic reactions resolve after removal of the causative agent and may require additional treatment.
Suture reaction or local infection may occur when subcutaneous sutures (sutures under the skin) are used. Exposed sutures will require removal for local healing to progress. Skin sutures may become buried under the skin during healing and subcutaneous sutures may not dissolve (stitch granuloma). Additional surgery may be necessary to remove buried sutures or granulomas. Suture marks in the skin can occur if skin sutures or staples are used to close your surgical incision.
All surgical incisions produce scarring and although scars are inevitable, some are worse than others, and the quality of the final scars is unpredictable and not entirely under the control of the surgeon. Some areas on the body scar more than other areas, and some people scar more than others.
Scars may be worse if there is a tendency to keloid scarring, in the younger person or if there has been a delay in healing due to infection or wound breakdown.
Your own history of scarring should give you some indication of what you can expect. Please ask your surgeon about scar management.
Red and discoloured scars
The appearance of your surgical scar will change during the various stages of wound healing. Some scars become more red and somewhat raised and excessive between six weeks and three months.
After six months scars begin to fade in their colour intensity. Scars on the legs and thighs may take up to 2 years to get as good as they will get. Scars are permanent. Scars will remain permanently visible to a lesser or greater extent, depending on the outcome.
A brown discolouration in a scar usually settles with time. White scars are permanent and there is no known satisfactory treatment. Please ask your surgeon about scar management.
Abnormal scars may occur even though careful surgical techniques are used and uncomplicated wound healing occurs after surgery. Scars may be unattractive because they are raised, thick (hypertrophic or keloid), stretched (wide), depressed, or of a different colour to the surrounding skin. An abnormal scar may have visible suture marks. Abnormal scars may occur both within the skin and the deeper tissues.
Abnormal scars occur more commonly in some skin types, in the younger patient or if there has been a delay in healing due to infection or wound breakdown. Most scars improve with time but some may require additional treatment.
Thick scars may respond to taping, placement of silicone sheeting onto the scars, serial injection of steroid into the scars or surgical scar revision. Wide scars may require scar revision surgery to improve their appearance. Surgical scar revision may be disappointing especially in the younger patient.
Please ask your surgeon about scar management.
The human body is normally asymmetrical. Despite surgical allowance for correction, the normal variation from one side of the body to the other will be reflected in the results obtained from your liposuction. Perfect symmetry may not be attainable after liposuction.
Injury to deeper structures
Blood vessels, nerves and muscles may be injured during liposuction. The incidence of such injuries is rare.
Post-operative fatigue and depression
It is normal for people to occasionally experience feelings of depression for a few days after surgery, especially when the early postoperative suture line, swelling and bruising is seen.
The post-operative emotional low improves with time. Physical recovery from any operation and anaesthetic is gradual.
The undesirable result
The undesirable result occurs because of limitations of the human tissues and skin. On the other hand you may be disappointed with the results of surgery if they have not met your expectations. Your expectations may leave you dissatisfied with the results of your liposuction, despite having an adequate surgical result. Additional surgery may or may not improve the results of surgery.
The unfavourable result
The unfavourable result may relate to under correction, asymmetry, recurrence of the original problem or scar related problems. Additional surgery may be required to improve your results.
Need for revisional surgery
Every surgery has associated risks and complications that you need to be aware of. Should a complication occur, additional surgery or other treatment might become necessary. Revisional procedures are less predictable and involve more risks. You must consider any revisional surgery carefully after discussion with your surgeon.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained.
If revisional surgery is required, you may incur further surgical, anaesthetic, pathology and hospital fees. These fees may be covered if you have private health insurance, depending on your level of cover. These fees will be your responsibility; so careful financial planning is required before you embark on any form of surgery.
Private Health Insurance is strongly advised for any surgery. Please speak to your surgeon regarding the costs of treating complications.
Following surgery, abnormal scarring in the skin and deeper tissues may trap nerves and produce pain. Uncommonly, persistent or chronic pain that is of an unknown or ambiguous cause may develop. This type of chronic pain may be difficult or impossible to correct.
There are many variable conditions that may influence the long-term result of your liposuction. Subsequent alterations to your body contour may occur as the result of aging, sun exposure, weight gains or weight loss, pregnancy, illness or other circumstances not related to your liposuction.
Additional liposuction, surgery or other treatments in some cases may be required to maintain or improve the results of your operation.
Deep Vein Thrombosis
A deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot occurring in the deep veins of the legs/calves. It causes pain and swelling in the affected leg and is potentially life threatening.
Treatment for deep vein thrombosis is essential and involves blood-thinning agents. Complications of a deep venous thrombosis include clots spreading from the legs to the lungs or heart and may cause shortness of breath, chest pain or death. If you are undergoing surgery, the risk of deep vein thrombosis relates to the type of surgery and the duration of the procedure.
Some people are more prone to developing deep venous thrombosis than others. These people may be of advanced age or people who have had a deep vein thrombosis in the past. Varicose veins are a risk factor as are certain medications like hormone replacement therapy and the oral contraceptive pill.
Smoking increases the risk of forming a deep vein thrombosis as well. Preventive treatment for deep vein thrombosis may be recommended and may consist of compression stockings, early ambulation or blood thinning agents. Your risk of DVT will be automatically calculated by this web site, and shall be presented to you later.
Anaesthetic related risks
Anaesthetic complications, although uncommon, do occur and should be discussed thoroughly with your anaesthetist prior to your surgery. Allergic reactions to drugs used in anaesthesia are rare (1 in 10,000).
Systemic reactions may also occur to drugs used during surgery and prescription medicines. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment.
It is possible to get a sore throat from the tube that is used to administer anaesthesia. You may develop a painful or infected intravenous site.
Other anaesthetic complications should be discussed with the anaesthetist.
Life threatening complications
Life threatening (or fatal, in some circumstances) complications like pulmonary embolism, cardiac arrhythmia, heart attack, stroke or massive infection are rare. These complications will require additional treatment.
Pulmonary (lung) complications
Pulmonary complications are uncommon and may occur secondary to either a blood clot starting in the legs (pulmonary embolism), aspiration of stomach secretions or partial collapse of the lungs after general anaesthesia
Before Your Operation
Organise yourself for after your surgery
- Organise how you will get to and from hospital.
- Arrange to have someone at home with you for at least 2 or 3 days after you leave hospital.
- Organise help with your shopping, laundry, housework, pets, lawns, etc.
- Get all your pre-operative tests.
- Arrange leave from work and any financial chores as required.
Surgery and anaesthesia impose stress on your body.
The state of your health will be determined how well your body will cope with this stress.
It is important that you maximise your general health by exercising, not smoking and having regular checks with your GP, so that conditions such as hypertension, diabetes etc can be controlled.
moking increases the risk of post-operative complications after surgery. It is recommended that you stop smoking for 4 weeks prior to your surgery and for 4 weeks after.
If you need help to give up smoking, speak to your G.P. who can prescribe medication to help you, speak your chemist who can advise you about nicotine replacement therapies or call the national QUIT LINE on 13 18 48.
Depending on your pain tolerance and your home situation, it may be in your best interest to stay overnight in hospital. When in hospital you may have a drip for fluid and pain relief. Dressings are likely to be removed before you are discharged from hospital.
Fasting, fluids, food
Fasting for surgery means that you cannot eat any food, or drink any fluid, after midnight the night before your surgery. A stomach full of fluid or food will mean that your anaesthetic may be dangerous and your procedure may be delayed or cancelled.
You should have nothing solid to eat, and drink no milk-containing fluids for 6 hours prior to an operation. You may have up to 1 glass of water per hour up to 3 hours prior to surgery.
If you are in hospital a sign over your bed will read "fasting", "nil by mouth" or "NBM".
If you take medications in the morning, these should be taken as normal on the morning of your operation with a sip of water at 6 am.
NB. Diabetic tablets and insulin should be withheld while you are fasting. When you brush your teeth in the morning, spit out any water rather than swallowing it.
You will be required to list all your medications by writing down the name, the dose and the day each medication is taken. If this is too difficult for you, ask your regular doctor to make a list of your current medications for you. It is important that you also bring all your medications to hospital with you.
Continue to take all your routine medications up to the time of admission to hospital EXCEPT blood thinning tablets like warfarin/coumadin. These medications must be stopped 5 days before surgery. You should discuss these medications with your surgeon.
Tablets like aspirin, astrix, plavix, iscover, cardiprin, and tablets for arthritis, rheumatism and gout, like brufen, Clinoril, feldene, indocid, orudis and voltaren must be stopped 10 days before surgery.
If you are not sure about your medications and the effect that they may have on your surgery please seek advice from your surgeon in advance of your surgery.
Antibiotics may be prescribed prior to your surgery.
If you have diabetes you must tell your surgeon prior to your admission date. You must also tell the staff at the time of your admission. Special arrangement will be made for you as necessary.
Your blood sugar levels will be monitored from the time you start fasting until normal eating resumes. Do not take any diabetic tablets on the morning of your surgery.
You may shower at home with an anti-bacterial soap such as sapoderm or gamophen prior to your surgery. The same soap can be used after your surgery as well.
You may be required to have a shower in hospital with an antiseptic solution before your surgery.
A responsible person
A responsible person may be required to accompany you home after surgery. A responsible person is an adult who understands the postoperative instructions given to them and is physically and mentally able to make decisions for your welfare when appropriate.
You will need to arrange for a responsible adult to drive you after your surgery. A suitable vehicle is a car or similar. A taxi is only acceptable if someone OTHER than the taxi driver accompanies you. Public transport such as a bus is NOT acceptable.
It is important that you maintain your fitness and you should continue your normal activities prior to your surgery. If time permits you may try to increase your fitness level gradually. Your fitness will be of benefit to your overall recovery after surgery. Walking is an excellent way of improving fitness and is recommended.
Pain relief in hospital
It is expected that you will have pain and discomfort after your surgery. The amount and severity of pain will vary from person to person.
Narcotics (morphine, pethidine, fentanyl) are used to relieve pain. Narcotics are not addictive in the amounts required to relieve pain.
It is important to limit the amount of discomfort that you have, so that you are able to do your breathing and general exercises as directed.
Any initial severe pain and discomfort will be managed with intravenous medication such as morphine, pethidine or fentanyl. The PCA machine is usually replaced with pain relieving tablets before discharge from hospital.
Pain relief at home
Pain, aches and discomfort may still be present when you leave hospital and may continue for several weeks. It is important when you are at home to maintain control over your pain, aches and discomforts.
Drugs for pain relief vary in strength and can "generally" be related to pain severity, BUT remember also that individuals have differing responses to pain and pain relieving medications.
As a guide and for your knowledge, the range of medication by drug strength from weakest to strongest is as follows:
Mild pain relief will be required for mild pain.
Such pain relieving medication includes panadol, paracetamol, panamax and panadeine.
Moderate pain relief may require medications such as digesic, panadeine forte, tramyl, endone or oxycodone. You need to be aware that some pain relieving medications may contribute to persisting nausea and vomiting and will contribute to constipation in the post-operative period.
Anti-inflammatory drugs such as vioxx, celebrex, brufen, naprosyn and indocid will contribute to effective pain relief when taken with mild pain relieving tablets.
If you have persistent unrelieved pain you may need to be seen by a doctor to exclude another cause for the pain.
If you normally take medication for bowel problems you will need to bring these medications to hospital with you. It is common to develop constipation after surgery that may require treatment.
Prevention of constipation begins on the day of surgery and continues until the bowel returns to "normal" function, which is usually once the need for pain medication ceases.
Medications for constipation such as coloxyl and senna or lactulose can be purchased from the local chemist without a prescription.
Eat fresh fruit and vegetables, take extra fibre and increase your exercise. Drink plenty of water, providing you are not on restricted fluids for any reason.
It is important that you try to retain your identity as a normal person whilst you are in hospital. Make sure that you ask plenty of questions about what is happening to you. Feel free to share your concerns with the nurses, doctors and other professionals that are involved in your care.
After Your Operation
You will have dressings and a garment if you have had liposuction to the abdomen and lower body.
You can expect to have some discomfort when you wake up after liposuction. The discomfort will feel like bruising and will be worse with movement.
You will need to remember to move your legs to keep the circulation flowing and to take deep breaths to expand the lungs.
You will wake up wearing a garment. The garment may be a girdle, an abdominal binder or other support garment. The garment provides support for the abdomen, buttocks and thighs and helps to reduce swelling, bruising and pain post surgery. The garment should be worn day and night for about 2 weeks after surgery.
It may be removed to allow you to have a shower. Depending on the advice of your surgeon, the garment may have to be worn during the day for 4 to 6 weeks following your operation.
You will need to take painkillers as provided. It is recommended that you avoid aspirin or aspirin based products, as they will promote bruising and bleeding.
The usual medications given in the postoperative period consist of panadol, panadeine, panadeine forte, panamax, digesic, and endone. These medications may be combined with anti-inflammatory medications such as vioxx, celebrex, or brufen.
Make sure that you have a postoperative pain regime at the time of discharge and that you understand the medications that you are taking and what they are designed to do for you.
One or two sleeping tablets (normison, temazepam, ativan) may be taken at night, if necessary, to help with sleeping in the first few days after surgery.
Your surgeon may prescribe a course of prophylactic (preventative) antibiotics.
Nausea and vomiting
Nausea and vomiting may be due to the anaesthetic or post-operative medication (like pain killers or antibiotics).
Medication to prevent nausea and vomiting may be required. If prolonged, nausea and vomiting may be related to a complication like infection and may cause dehydration. You need to inform your surgeon of prolonged nausea and vomiting.
Bruising of the skin in the areas of liposuction is usually maximal at approximately 48 hours after surgery. Most bruises will resolve by 2 weeks. Gentle massage with a moisturising lotion (sorbolene), or arnica cream may help to dissipate bruising.
Bleeding or ooze
There may be ooze of blood from any of the suture lines. Any ooze should resolve within 24 to 48 hours. Persistent or offensive ooze should be reported to your surgeon.
Swelling can occur for 6 to 12 weeks liposuction and sometimes, intermittent swelling may take up to 12 months to settle. Please ask your surgeon how long swelling should take to resolve. Swelling lasting longer than this time may be due to a complication, and should be reported to your surgeon.
At home a mouldable cold pack or a small bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel may help to reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. Cold packs can be applied to the areas of liposuction (for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours) in the first 48 hours after surgery to help minimise swelling and bruising. The cold packs should not hurt.
If cold packs are uncomfortable, don't use them as often. After a few days gentle daily massage with a bland moisturising cream after your shower will help to resolve bruising and any lumpiness.
Dressings following liposuction are small may be removed as early as 24 to 48 hours after your surgery. Please ask your surgeon how long the dressings need to stay on.
Steri-strips or tapes may be present on the suture line and will need to be changed regularly. Check with your surgeon if you are able to shower.
Sutures may be beneath the skin and will absorb with time. The aim of absorbable sutures beneath the skin is to provide wound support for a longer time than skin sutures, so that scar stretch can be minimised.
Occasionally the body will want to extrude these sutures. A sore or a pimple on the suture line may indicate an underlying suture trying to break through the skin. This suture can be removed as soon as it breaks through the skin. Antibiotic ointment or betadeine may be required along with a small dressing until the area heals. Infrequently a lump forms related to a suture that has not dissolved (a stitch granuloma). This stitch granuloma may need to be excised as a local anaesthetic procedure.
Sutures may be present in the skin. These sutures will require removal at some stage after your surgery. The normal time frame is anywhere between 5 days to 14 days depending on the liposuction and the location on the body. Suture removal is usually arranged with the surgeon.
Some surgeons place Steri-strips over the suture line. Steri-strips are meant to stay intact and are usually removed one week after surgery. You may be able to shower.
Blistering from Steri-strips may occur. If this happens the Steri-strips will be removed and an alternative dressing will be applied.
Some surgeons prefer that the garment is not removed for the first week after liposuction. In this case you will have to shower whilst wearing your garment.
In other cases having a shower and getting your sutures wet may be permitted by your surgeon. You may be allowed to removed your garment for a shower.
An antibacterial soap (sapoderm, gamophen) may be recommended.
You will need to pay attention to washing the suture line . Suture lines should be carefully dried with a clean towel. If your suture line has steri-strips or tape, wash over the tape and dry it.
Occasionally the suture line may become red and ooze. If this occurs tapes are usually removed and antibiotic ointment or betadeine may be required. Your surgeon may prescribe antibiotics as well.
Some surgeons will prefer you to keep your sutures dry. Please check with your surgeon and ensure you follow your surgeon's instructions about wound care.
Liposuction is performed under general anaesthesia and can be performed as day surgery.
If you are going home after day surgery a family member or friend must drive you because you have had an anaesthetic and someone should stay overnight with you for the same reason. You may need help from a relative or friend at home during the first few days after your liposuction.
If you have any questions about these matters, please speak to your surgeon.
The effects of an anaesthetic may still be present 24 hours after your procedure, even if you do not feel them. Your reflexes will be slower and you are at risk of injury. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of a drug (even a prescribed one) and you could be charged. Do not make important decisions or sign legal documents for 24 hours after an anaesthetic. Take care with alcohol intake after surgery because medications and alcohol may interact with the residual anaesthetic. Discuss your normal medications with the anaesthetist.
Readmission to hospital
Rarely you may need to be re-admitted unexpectedly to hospital. The most common cause is persistent nausea and vomiting, anxiety, the need for unexpected additional pain relief or for treatment of unexpected complications of surgery such as bleeding, wound problems or infection.
Too much activity too soon will risk delays in healing or increase the risk of complications. Try to walk around slowly and avoid any straining or rushing around.
You may go to the bathroom, walk around the house sit and watch TV, etc., but no matter how good you feel do not clean the house, engage in heavy manual work, go to the gym etc. for 4 weeks following your surgery. This also applies to sexual activity.
Slow walking on the flat for exercise is often therapeutic in the early post-operative period. Your body will dictate whether you are able to safely recommence your exercise program. More strenuous exercise like fast walking, running or swimming may commence after 4 to 6 weeks.
More strenuous exercise like tennis or contact sports can commence after 6 to 8 weeks. As a general rule: if it hurts, don't do it. Please ask your surgeon when you can start exercising.
Localised sore areas are not uncommon after liposuction. Massage may resolve bruising, lumpiness and any localised sore areas after liposuction.
If fresh scars are exposed to the sun, they will tend to become darker and take longer to fade. Sunscreen on sun-exposed scars can help to fade scars. Take extra care and precautions if you are planning to tan, as some areas of your body may be temporarily numb after surgery and you will not "feel" a sunburn developing.
Your post-operative diet should consist of fluids initially then soft food that is easy to prepare. If you have any postoperative nausea, carbonated sodas and dry crackers may settle the stomach. Small frequent meals will be more suitable and comfortable.
Although not proven, there is some suggestion that multivitamins prior to and after surgery may aid in wound healing. Avoid mega dosing on vitamins prior to surgery.
Smoking reduces capillary blood flow to the skin and may result in delays to wound healing or complications of your liposuction. Smoking not only affects wound healing; it also increases the risk of bleeding, wound infections, post-operative chest infections. Smoking also increases the risk of developing a blood clot in the legs that can travel to the lungs. It is recommended that you cease smoking at least 4 weeks prior to your surgery and for 4 weeks after.
Medications and alcohol may interact with the residual anaesthetic and prescription pain medicine.
Alcohol also dilates blood vessels and may increase the risk of postoperative bleeding.
It is recommended that you avoid alcohol for the first three days after surgery and restrict your alcohol intake for the first month.
It is recommended that you do not drive for a certain period of time after liposuction. To be able to drive safely you must have full use of your reflexes to drive, and any post-operative discomfort will inhibit your reflexes.
If pain will inhibit them, don't drive. In the interest of safety whilst driving, and legally, you must wear a seat belt across the chest.
You may resume driving when you feel you are able, but it is advisable to discuss this with your surgeon or check with the road traffic authority first.
You must allow yourself adequate recovery time. You will have restriction to mobility for up to one week. Too much activity too soon will increase the risk of complications such as bleeding, infection and delayed healing. It would be wise to ensure you have adequate time off work. You must also allow sufficient time for your body to recover from the effects of anaesthesia and surgery. Discuss the expected time for recovery with your surgeon prior to your surgery and allow plenty of time for adequate recovery.
Everyone heals at a different rate. The ability to heal is variable and depends upon a number of factors such as your genetic background, your weight, your overall state of health and lifestyle (exercise, diet, smoking, drinking, etc.). Your attention to preparing yourself for surgery will be manifest in your post-operative recovery. Many people believe the surgeon "heals" the patient. Not one person can make another heal. Your cooperation and close attention to pre and post-operative instructions is extremely important and is in your best interest.
A major factor in the course of healing is whether you follow the instructions given by your surgeon and the nurses in the surgery.
Such guidelines are designed to promote the healing process and to prevent the occurrence of anything that may interfere with your recovery.
It is imperative that you recognise that you are a partner in this process and have a responsibility to follow instructions carefully.
The instructions, based on broad experience, are designed to give you the best opportunity for healing without delay or surprise.
Depression is a normal reaction to surgery. The third day following your surgery may be the worst. You may be teary. It is not uncommon to experience a brief period of "let-down" or depression after any surgery.
You may subconsciously have expected to look and feel better "instantly," even though you rationally understood that this would not be the case.
Day 3 post surgery may be the worst. As healing occurs, these thoughts usually disappear quickly.
If you feel depressed, understanding that this is a "natural" phase of the healing process may help you to cope with this emotional state.
Support from family and friends
Support from family and friends can be very helpful, but because they may not understand what constitutes a normal postoperative course, their comments may unintentionally create emotional turmoil for you.
The staff at the surgery and your surgeon will tell you honestly how you are doing and what to expect.
Please trust in your surgeon's knowledge and experience when your progress is discussed with you.
Complications are infrequent. When complications occur, it is seldom a consequence of poor surgery or poor postoperative care. Complications are more likely to be a result of the variable healing capacity or a failure to follow post-operative instructions. You will be assisted in every way possible if a complication occurs.
Should the unexpected occur, please understand that it is important to follow the advice of your surgeon and nursing staff in order to treat it as effectively as possible. Your surgeon and the nursing staff will ensure that you have support and assistance during this difficult time.
It is very important that you follow the schedule of appointments established for you after surgery. Appointments to see the nurse or the surgeon should be made before or immediately after discharge from hospital. The review appointment may be the next day or up to one week following surgery.
If no appointment has been made, you must ensure that you contact your surgeon and make a follow up appointment. If you have any concerns don't feel that you are bothering the surgeon or the staff.
If need be, you can be seen prior to any arranged review appointment to sort out any concerns.
Occasionally the result of your surgery may not be totally perfect. If you feel that you can focus on the overall degree of improvement instead of any small lack of perfection, then you will reap the benefits of the results of your operation. If small imperfections will prevent you focusing on the degree of improvement after your surgery you probably should not have had an operation.
Your surgeon will use their expertise and experience in their surgical techniques to achieve the best results and ensure their patients receive the most advanced surgical techniques available. They keep updated by attending, national and international aesthetic conferences and seminars regularly.
The surgery performed may not necessarily relate to the methods that are sometimes promoted, or advertised in popular magazines, newspaper articles or on television.
The rate of revisional surgery, even in the most skilled surgical hands, can never be zero because patient and surgeon can control only some aspects of the outcome.
Minor adjustments or additional revisions following cosmetic surgery may be necessary in up to 5% of patients. Revisional surgery is performed after the first postoperative year (12 months after surgery) because resolution of swelling and stabilisation of the final appearance takes at least that long.
During the first year after surgery irregularities, asymmetries or poor contours may sufficiently improve without surgery, so very small imperfections following surgery should not be revised.
Revisional procedures are less predictable and involve more risks. You must consider any revisional surgery carefully after discussion with your surgeon.
If revisional surgery is required you may incur further surgical, anaesthetic, pathology and hospital fees. These fees may be covered if you have private health insurance, depending on your level of cover. These fees will be your responsibility and you will need careful financial planning you before you embark on any form of cosmetic surgery. Private Health Insurance is strongly advised for any cosmetic surgery.
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