Less Pain in Liposuction

With advances in liposuction, areas of excess fat are injected with a sizable amount of anesthetic liquid before liposuction is performed. The anesthetic causes the compartments of fat to become swollen and firm or “tumesced.” The expanded fat compartments allow the liposuction cannula to travel smoothly beneath the skin as the fat is removed. This type of liposuction, called tumescent liposuction, can be used on any area of the body but is most often used on areas that require careful precision such as the face, neck, arms calves and ankles. Both men and women of all ages have been seeking tumescent liposuction.

This type of liposuction is a fairly new method that reduces post-operative bruising, swelling and pain. The amount of blood loss is minimized during tumescent liposuction, and this technique also reduces the chances that a blood transfusion will be necessary during the procedure. Liposuction patients are very glad to hear that.

Although blood loss is minimized with tumescent liposuction, patients undergoing the procedure still face the same risks associated with traditional liposuction. Some of the risks with this type of liposuction include pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) and lidocaine toxicity (too much lidocaine).

General anesthesia is typically the best option for the liposuction procedure. Or, if it’s appropriate, the tumescent solution may serve as the only means of anesthesia for the procedure. Your cosmetic surgeon will discuss all anesthesia options with you at the time of your consultation.

The Process

In tumescent liposuction, the warmed tumescent liquid (a mixture containing lidocaine, epinephrine and intravenous fluid) is injected into the area to be treated. As this liquid enters the fat, it becomes swollen, firm and blanched. Liposuction is then performed on the tumesced areas.

The anesthesia used can help to provide pain relief following liposuction and decrease the need for additional pain meds. For the first couple of days, most patients experience swelling in the areas that were treated and some fluid drainage from the incision sites. Patients usually resume light physical activity within the first few days following surgery, and normal physical activity can be resumed within a few weeks.

Patients typically see a marked difference almost immediately after surgery. After three weeks, more improvement can be seen after the majority of the swelling has subsided. After approximately three months, any persistent swelling will disappear and your final shape and contour will be visible.

Drainage from the incision sites is common with any liposuction. Occasionally, a small rubber drainage tube will be inserted beneath the skin for a couple of days to prevent fluid from building up. You may need to take antibiotics while these drains are in place, and until the major drainage has stopped altogether, you may need additional gauze pads to keep your clothing from getting damp.