What is liposuction?

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Updated: 1/14/2003 11:29 am
Liposuction (LYE-poe-suc-shun) is a procedure in which fat deposits are suctioned from the body using a small, hollow wand called a cannula (CAN-you-luh). In traditional liposuction, little or no fluid is introduced into the area before suctioning begins. Today, most surgeons use some degree of fluid to enlarge the tissues and allow fat to be removed from the area with less shock to the body. The solution generally consists of saline (SAY-leen), or salt water; the anesthetic lidocaine LYE-duh-kane); and epinephrine (ep-ih-NEHF- rin) or adrenaline (uh-DREN-uh-lin), drugs that help reduce bleeding. When the amount of solution introduced is roughly equal to the volume of fat removed, this is known as 'wet' liposuction. If more fluid is introduced than is taken out, it's called 'super wet' liposuction. The tumescent (too-MEH-sent) technique uses the most fluid of all to dramatically expand the tissues before suctioning. It's generally believed that tumescent liposuction produces a better outcome and faster recovery for the patient. However, it also takes longer to perform. Another variation of the procedure is ultrasonic or ultra-sound assisted liposuction. In this method, high-frequency sound waves are used to liquefy fat before it's vacuumed out. While sometimes useful in areas of fibrous tissue, the ultrasonic method requires an experienced surgeon to avoid potential problems.

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