Liposuction (Thighs and Buttocks)
Liposuction can help get rid of localized fat in the thighs and buttocks. The liposuction procedure involves inserting a suction device into fatty areas between skin and muscle -- resulting in a smoother, improved body contour.
The best candidate for liposuction is a person of average or only slightly above average weight, in good health, with a localized area of fat that just won't go away. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction is another possible technique. This involves using high-frequency sound waves to liquefy fat beneath the skin's surface before it is removed with gentle suction.
The Procedure: Liposuction typically is done as an outpatient procedure; however, if a large volume of fat is being removed, hospitalization may be necessary.
Before the procedure begins you will be given an anesthetic. Depending on the degree of fat being removed and the type of liposuction being performed, anesthesia varies. It may only be locally applied or you may require a general application, in which case the surgery will be done while you are sleeping.
The surgeon will then inject a solution of saline, a mild painkiller, and epinephrine, a drug that contracts blood vessels, into the liposuction area. It helps the surgeon remove the fat more easily, helps reduce blood loss, and provides pain relief during and after surgery.
After small incisions are made, the suction device is inserted into fatty areas between skin and muscle and fat is gently removed. The length of the procedure will vary with the amount of fat removed.
In ultrasound-assisted liposuction, you get an injection that contains a local anesthetic as well as a solution that causes the fatty area to swell slightly. A thin tube-like ultrasonic probe is inserted beneath the skin through a small incision. The probe is maneuvered under the skin, emitting sound waves that cause fat cells to collapse and liquefy. The liquefied fat and anesthetic fluid are removed using gentle suction.
Common Side Effects: You should expect bruising, swelling, and soreness for a least a few weeks. However, every person's outcome will vary based on factors such as volume of fat cells removed and area of removal.
Complications: Although rare, risks include infection and skin discoloration. As with any major surgery, there is a low risk of death.
Recovery: Under most circumstances, recovery is usually quick. Most people can return to work within a few days and to normal activities within about two weeks.
Results: If you gain weight after the procedure, fat can build up in the area again. To keep your new shape and new weight after liposuction, you must follow a proper diet and exercise plan.
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WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by Michael J. Wheatley, MD, December 10, 2007.
SOURCES: Christopher Livingston, MD, assistant professor of plastic surgery, University of Texas Medical School, Houston. WebMD Medical Reference provided in collaboration with The Cleveland Clinic: "Liposuction."
Butt Lift (Buttock Lift)
A butt lift can help improve the shape and contour of your buttocks. It's a surgical procedure that involves removing fat and excess skin from the buttocks. For people who have had a dramatic weight loss -- or who simply want their buttocks to look shapely -- a lift can help.
Some people who ask for liposuction are really better candidates for a butt lift. Liposuction alone can leave excessive, hanging skin that would require a lift. Doctors often advise patients to have both procedures at the same time.
The Procedure: Incisions are made underneath the buttock area, where they won't be noticeable. Then, the plastic surgeon simply removes whatever is hanging -- excess skin and fat. To improve the buttocks' overall look, liposuction may also be performed. All this is typically done as an outpatient procedure that lasts two to four hours. Typically, you will be put under general anesthesia.
Common Side Effects: Common side effects include bruising, pain, and numbness, all of which usually resolve within several months. Scars will soften over time.
Complications: Although complications are rare, the main ones are bleeding, infection, and persistent fluid collections. At times, a touch-up is needed to repair any problems with the incision -- as might happen, for example, when you sit on your incision or stretch it.
Recovery: The main obstacle to healing and recovery is not being able to sit. Patients usually must lie on their stomachs the entire time during the first week depending on the extent of operation. But gradually, as the incisions heal, the patient can resume normal activity, including sitting down.
The initial recovery from surgery is about 10 days, with complete recovery within four to six weeks. The incisions can take up to one year to fully mature and fade.
Results: Usually buttock lifts are long lasting as long as a balanced diet and exercise program are maintained. However, with any lift procedure, revisions or additional lift procedures may be necessary.
Find out more about the buttock lift.
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WebMD Medical Reference
Reviewed by H. Debra Jaliman, MD, October 23, 2013.
SOURCES: Christopher K. Livingston, MD, assistant professor of plastic surgery, University of Texas Medical School, Houston. WebMD Medical Reference: "Arm, Thigh, and Buttock Lifts."