The American Association of Plastic Surgeons recommends that patients undergo a series of physical examinations before the liposuction surgery. The purpose of these exams is to determine whether or not the patient is in good enough health to have the procedure performed, and to rule out any underlying medical issues that may complicate the surgery. It is extremely important for a patient to thoroughly discuss any health issues, including the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, and/or herbal remedies currently used. Supplying the physician with a detailed medical history will give both patient and surgeon a better understanding of what the specific risk factors may be.
Once a patient has decided to follow through with liposuction surgery, he or she should be presented with all of the available options. These include traditional liposuction, tumescent liposuction (a procedure resulting in less blood loss and other complications), as well as various choices for anesthesia. A reputable physician will inform the patient long the surgery will last, how many incisions will be made, probable amount and severity of scarring, and how long the expected recovery time may be.
The surgeon will outline the areas to be treated with a marker. After anesthesia is administered and has taken effect, the doctor will make a small incision in the skin. A hollow steel tube is then inserted, and a vacuum is used to suction out the fatty tissue. Since much fluid is lost through this procedure, it is necessary for the patient to have an IV to replace diminished fluids and to prevent dehydration.
In order to reduce pain and discomfort, the patient will receive either local or general anesthesia. If the surgeon uses the tumescent technique, the fluid used to promote swelling of the fat pockets may be the only method of anesthesia. Intravenous sedation, epidural blockage and general anesthesia are the most common pain-reducing methods. Since liposuction is a surgical procedure, the patient’s blood pressure, pulse and oxygen levels will be monitored closely.
Doctors recommend that on the day the procedure is to be performed, the patient have someone drive him or her to the hospital or doctor’s office. Unless performed on an outpatient setting (for smaller liposuction surgeries), any type of surgical procedure will require a hospital stay, so it is also important to pack a bag that contains anything the patient will need during the stay. Even if the procedure is performed in an outpatient setting, the patient will likely be too tired, uncomfortable or groggy from the surgery to drive home alone.
Depending on the amount of fat removed and the physical location of the surgery, the patient may be able to leave within a few hours, although some may require a night or so of hospital stay. Recovery time should be discussed before liposuction so that the patient will have a realistic timeframe of when he or she can return to work or other normal activities.