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Want to Shape Your Body with Surgery?: Liposuction Explained 
 
by Carrie McClain June 26, 2005

Liposuction Explained

Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past 20 years, you should know that liposuction is a procedure that sucks out fat. Sounds disgusting. What exactly do they do?

In most liposuction procedures a small incision is made on the area where fat is to be removed. This can be the abdomen, hips, buttocks, thighs, knees, upper arms, chin, cheeks, neck, and even back. Pretty much anywhere. After the incision is made, a fluid is injected into the area. The solution usually contains salt, lidocaine (for local anesthesia) and epinephrine (to contract your blood vessels). This fluid helps your fat come loose; also preventing excess bleeding and bruising.

After the fluid is injected, a wand-like device (cannula) is inserted and swept back and forth over the area, collecting the fat into a tube. Thanksgiving dinner (swipe), chocolate cake (swipe), entire package of Oreos (swipe), swipe, swipe. Of course, the actual procedure is not quite so dramatic. The amount of fat actually removed varies, but is never significant enough to cause a big drop on the scales.

There are newer techniques available. Notably, tumescent, super-wet, and ultrasound-assisted (UAL). In both tumescent and super-wet, large volumes of the medicated solution are injected into the site. UAL uses a special cannula which produces ultrasonic energy to liquefy fat. All three of these newer techniques take 2-3 hours longer than traditional liposuction. They generally are used on very fibrous areas of the body such as the upper back or male breast. Your doctor will help you choose the right technique for you.

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