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Liposuction, or lipoplasty, is a surgical procedure which suctions fat from the body.

Liposuction Side Effects

Undesirable side effects from liposuction can include rippling, loose skin, nerve damage, irregular pigmentation, infection, worsened cellulite, strange contours, swelling, fat clots, fluid accumulation, and scarring.

Serious complications can include fat embolus (fat that enters the circulatory system), visceral perforation (damage to organs), pneumothorax (collapsed lung), deep vein thrombosis (blood clot), pulmonary embolus (blood clots to the lung), congestive heart failure (heart can't pump blood to rest of organs), and lidocaine toxicity (anesthetic overdose).

Another aesthetic complication is the creation of "track marks," which can occur when leftover fat is shaped irregularly. Repairing track marks involves taking fat from elsewhere in the body and transferring it to the unwanted areas.

Who shouldn't use it: The possibility of complications increases for anyone with a history of serious medical problems, including immunodeficiency disorders, cardiac arrhythmia, seizure disorders, excessive bleeding, and blood clots of the legs or lungs.

Liposuction is not a solution to obesity, so those who exceed 30 percent of their ideal body weight should try diet and exercise first. In addition, liposuction is designed to remove fat from under the skin. The remaining skin must contract. A patient that has a lot of excess or lax skin in addition to fat is therefore not a good candidate.

Drawbacks: Contrary to popular belief, liposuction cuts down inches—not pounds—from the body, so it is not a good method of weight loss. Liposuction can unevenly contour the body and cause asymmetrical results.

Recovery Time For Liposuction

Recovery time after liposuction varies according to amount of liposuction performed. Time off work can be as short as a few days, but generally is approximately one week.

During the initial post-operative period, it is important to get up and walk around frequently in order to decrease stiffness and lessen the chance for blood clot formation. One should not perform any activity that causes significant heart rate or blood pressure increases. Exercise is allowed at approximately three weeks post-op.

After care for liposuction: In the three to six days that follow liposuction, a compression garment can help reduce swelling from surgery. Don't expect to spend these days or the following weeks lazing up on the couch, though. Excessive lolling can actually facilitate the formation of blood clots in the legs or lungs.

Knots of scar tissue may form under the skin in the weeks following surgery. These most commonly go away with time and massage. This is a normal occurrence after liposuction.

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