Westmead Private Hospital
Part of Ramsay Health Care

Liposuction (Fat Removal)

What is a fat removal procedure and why is it performed?

A liposuction procedure can help men and women of all ages (dependent on skin condition) to overcome the embarrassment caused by localised areas of excess fat. It is most suitable for the reduction or removal of stubborn areas of fat that have previously proved resistant to normal diet and exercise regimes, and is especially suitable for areas that remain out of proportion to the rest of the body shape, irrespective of a person’s weight loss.

The procedure involves the permanent surgical removal of fat from just below the surface of the skin through suction keyhole surgery and can be performed under local or general anaesthetic. It often involves a one night stay in hospital to recover.

The ultimate objective of liposuction surgery is to produce a well-contoured and permanently slimmer profile on the area treated. The aim of the surgeon is to create a new shape that will complement and work in harmony with the other proportions of a patient’s body.

What kind of men and women request this procedure?

  • Men and women of all ages who want to correct the shape of their body
  • Men and women who have uneven proportions
  • Men and women who are limited by the way that their proportions interfere with their normal daily activities and ability to exercise in comfort
  • Men and women who feel they have fashion restrictions caused by needing to choose from a limited range of clothing styles
  • Men and women who feel that their self-esteem, confidence or relationships are affected by their concerns and feelings about their shape and size
  • Men who suffer with enlarged breast tissue can sometimes have their condition corrected by liposuction surgery

What are the results like?

This particular procedure can provide dramatic results, correcting a disproportionate shape. This corrective procedure is a lengthy and potentially challenging one and needs to be performed by a Consultant Plastic Surgeon who is fully qualified and well experienced to skillfully perform this type of surgery.

Results will be obscured by the inevitable swelling that takes place following this type of procedure. After the initial post-operative swelling has settled down, subtle improvements to the contour and newly created shape will take place for up to six months following liposuction surgery.

Which areas normally respond well to fat removal surgery?

  • Hips
  • Outer thighs
  • Inner knees
  • Lower abdomen
  • Lower buttock folds
  • Chest area (in men only)

How is a liposuction (fat removal) procedure performed?

A liposuction procedure involves the surgical removal of surplus fat through a slender tube called a cannula. This cannula can either be connected to a large syringe or a special surgical vacuum device, through which, excess fat cells are carefully sucked away.

During the procedure the surgeon gradually reduces the fatty deposits of any problem area until the area resembles a proportionate and more normal contour.

Patients can either be fully anaesthetised or sedated throughout this procedure, which can take an average of between one to two hours to perform.

The type of anaesthetic chosen will usually determine whether a patient is treated as a day case or be required to stay in hospital overnight to recover.

Techniques vary between surgeons and according to the individual needs of each case. However, most commonly, the surgeon injects the selected area with a clear solution that limits bleeding and bruising and numbs the surrounding tissue for up to eight hours following surgery before excess fatty deposits are removed by suction. This solution will be absorbed in part by the body and the remaining solution will leak out of the tiny cannula incisions for 24 hours after surgery. This is a normal process and patients should not be alarmed by such leakage.

Following surgery, the small keyhole incision sites left after the suction surgery are either sutured together with a tiny single stitch or closed with a simple elastoplast dressing. Patients are then dressed in a firm support garment, which must be worn at all times for four to six weeks following surgery. This support garment is important, as it adds compression to the newly formed shape and assists with the early reduction of swelling and helps healing.

How will you feel after fat removal surgery and what is the recovery period like?

The operated area is often quite tender, bruised and painful for several weeks following surgery.

Analgesic tablets (pain killers) are always provided for any discomfort and patients are encouraged to stay as mobile as possible during their early recovery stage to help improve their circulation. This in turn will help diminish residual swelling and bruising and aid a more speedy recovery.

In the early days following discharge, patients are strongly advised to avoid any excessive level of activity that would put undue strain on the operated areas. Whilst the healing wounds are well hidden beneath the skin, they still need the same consideration that any visible wounds require during a recovery stage.

In order to help the newly shaped fatty tissue and skin bond firmly together, patients are usually advised to wear an elastic support garment day and night for at least one week and then for a minimum of another three weeks during the daytime. Patients will also be advised to take a specific amount of recovery time away from work, dependent on the type of work they perform, but it is usual to take around 7–14 days away from work, dependent on the volume of the fat removed and individual recovery.

Are there any risks involved in fat removal surgery?

The probability of experiencing complications from this kind of surgery are substantially lower than those who undergo surgery for ill health reasons. Risks such as irregularity, bleeding, alteration in sensitivity, infection and scarring will all be discussed quite openly at consultation, as well as our scrupulous efforts to manage and minimise these risks to their lowest possible potential.

This procedure can involve the removal of reasonably large volumes of fat. The elasticity of an individuals skin will determine how moderate or dramatic the shape change can be. In appropriately selected cases and in the hands of a skilled surgeon, loose skin following surgery should not be a significant problem, but it is worth bearing in mind that not everyone is suitable for this procedure for this reason. A careful assessment of an individuals skin condition will always be made by the Surgeon, before any decisions are made about a patient’s suitability for this procedure.

The surface contour over the treated fat removal area/s can sometimes be irregular, particularly if a lot of fat has been removed, however if the technique is properly carried out by our appropriately skilled surgeons these irregularities are usually very minor. Dimpled skin, (cellulite) will not usually be improved by undergoing a liposuction procedure.

The loss of superficial skin sensitivity following liposuction surgery in an entirely variable one from patient to patient.

Post-operative skin sensitivity can often be interrupted because of swelling developing around the nerve endings of an operated area. Sometimes it can take several months for skin sensitivity to completely recover and on very rare occasions, a treated area may remain permanently numb.

Typically, the key hole incisions made during a procedure are very small (a few millimetres across). However, the appearance of scars, (which generally fade progressively after surgery), are a highly individual matter. Usually these extremely small scars mature, soften and fade to a negligible level by 6 months following surgery. Very occasionally however, customers can develop discoloured, unsightly firm scars, known as hypertrophic or keloid scarring, which may require further corrective treatment.

Click here for a list of Plastic and Cosmetic Specialists at Westmead Private Hospital.