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Trunk Liposuction Treatment & Management

  • Author: Allen Gabriel, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Deepak Narayan, MD, FRCS  more...
 
Updated: Aug 02, 2013
 

Surgical Therapy

Historically, 4 different infiltration techniques have been used for suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL): dry, wet, superwet, and tumescent.

Dry

See the list below:

  • No fluid is injected into the subcutaneous fat layer before suctioning.
  • Approximately 25-45% of the aspirated volume is blood.
  • This technique is not used commonly except for small volume suctions.

Wet

See the list below:

  • Illouz pioneered this technique in the early 1980s.
  • It consists of an infusion of 100-300 cm3 of saline into each site of fat to be removed before suctioning.
  • The aspirated blood volume is lowered to 20-25% of the total aspirate.
  • Hettler's addition of 1:200,000 or 1:400,000 epinephrine to the presuctioning fluid in 1983 reduced blood loss even more. Less than 15% of the aspirate was blood.

Superwet

See the list below:

  • This technique was devised in the late 1980s.
  • It consists of an infusion of fluid containing epinephrine and low doses of local anesthetic in a 1:1 ratio to the volume of expected aspirate.
  • Blood loss is reduced to approximately 2% of the aspirated volume.

Tumescent

See the list below:

  • In the tumescent technique, large volumes of dilute lidocaine and epinephrine are injected into the subcutaneous fat before the procedure.[9, 10]
  • Klein described this technique in 1990.[11]
    • Large volumes of saline containing 1:100,000 epinephrine and 0.05% lidocaine were injected subcutaneously before suctioning until the tissues were tense.
    • The injected fluid volume was greater than that expected to be suctioned.
  • Blood loss is approximately 1% of the aspirated volume.

Much debate exists between proponents of the superwet and tumescent techniques. Most modern liposuction is a combination of these 2 techniques.

The series of photographs below shows a patient before and after tumescent liposuction.

Liposuction, trunk. Posterior view of patient befoLiposuction, trunk. Posterior view of patient before tumescent suctioning. Note the excess fat on the hips, inner thighs, and outer thighs.
Liposuction, trunk. Frontal view of patient beforeLiposuction, trunk. Frontal view of patient before tumescent suctioning. Note the excess fat on the hips, inner thighs, and outer thighs.
Liposuction, trunk. Posterior view 3 months after Liposuction, trunk. Posterior view 3 months after 3 L of tumescent liposuction without ultrasound assistance. A reduction in the total fat on the hips and thighs is readily seen. A smooth "hourglass" contour has been obtained.
Liposuction, trunk. Frontal view 3 months after 3 Liposuction, trunk. Frontal view 3 months after 3 L of tumescent liposuction without ultrasound assistance. A reduction in the total fat on the hips and thighs is readily seen. A smooth "hourglass" contour has been obtained.
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Intraoperative Details

Standard liposuction

See the list below:

  • Make small stab incisions along relaxed skin tension lines.
  • Inject the presuctioning fluid.
  • Introduce the suction cannulae into the deep fat layer.
  • Activate the vacuum and push the cannula to and fro through the fat, creating a radial pattern.
  • Use multiple incision sites to overlap the fan patterns. This technique helps prevent contour irregularities.
  • If needed, use smaller caliber cannulae to suction the superficial fat layer in a similar fashion. Take care not to injure the skin or to create contour irregularities caused by the superficial location of this fat.
  • Close access wounds with 1-2 buried absorbable sutures. Place sterile dressings.
  • Place a fitted compression garment over the treated areas; some believe that it must be worn continuously for at least 2 weeks.
  • Close access wounds with 1-2 buried monofilament nonabsorbable sutures.

Ultrasound-assisted liposuction

See the list below:

  • Infuse similar presuctioning fluids into the subcutaneous fat layers.
  • Add ultrasonic energy to emulsify the fat cells.
  • Ultrasound can be performed before suctioning using solid probes or it can be added directly to the suction cannula, enabling simultaneous liquefaction and suctioning of fat. A 3-step procedure is incorporated.
  • Ultrasonic energy is exothermic, so it can cause heat injury to surrounding tissues. This may improve the results of liposuction by increasing contraction of skin and subcutaneous tissues, but it increases the risk of injury to the skin during superficial suctioning.
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) allows treatment of areas (ie, back, upper flank, chest, male breast) that previously did not respond well to conventional liposuction.
  • The cosmetic treatment of the male patient with gynecomastia has been revolutionized by the use of UAL. Excellent results have been realized with minimal scarring, avoiding the previously required scars of mastectomies.

Note: The ultrasonic energy used in UAL is delivered via the cannulae as they are passed through the fat layers. Devices do exist that deliver ultrasonic waves transcutaneously, but these have not been shown to be helpful.

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Postoperative Details

Once the final contouring is performed, the incisions are closed. Incisions for cannulae larger than 3.0 mm are generally closed with a 5-0 nylon suture. Some surgeons recommend leaving smaller incisions open to allow wetting solution to drain. The patient is dressed in a compression garment that covers the areas that have been suctioned. Compression foam (TopiFoam) under the garment seems to decrease bruising and swelling in the early postoperative period. An abdominal binder and compression foam can be used when the hips and abdomen are suctioned alone. When thigh work is done as well, a girdle is preferable.

When drains are used, they are left in place until drainage is less than 30 mL in a 24-hour period. Foam padding should be left in place for 3-5 days. Compression garments are generally encouraged 23 hours per day for 4 weeks. Patients are warned that with larger volume liposuction, some patients experience lightheadedness (a vasovagal response) the first time the garment is removed. Therefore, someone should accompany the patient for the first dressing change.

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Follow-up

Patients are instructed to remove their garments or foam and to take a shower after 1-3 days, depending on the amount of suction performed. When 1 or 2 areas are suctioned, the patient can typically replace the foam padding over the liposuctioned areas and replace the garment after the shower. When multiple areas are suctioned, the first dressing change is often better performed in the office.

Postoperative follow-up visits are scheduled at 5 days, 2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months, and 6 months. Patients experience red-tinged, serosanguineous drainage from incision sites for the first 24 to 36 hours. Maximal swelling can be expected during postoperative days 3-5. If the patient has bruising, it will usually resolve over 7-10 days.

The patient is instructed to begin lymphatic massage of the areas suctioned approximately 2 weeks after surgery. This reduces edema and helps reduce small contour irregularities. A referral to a massage therapist trained in Dr. Vodder's manual lymphatic drainage techniques[12] instructs the patient on proper massage technique, and many patients may choose to continue with the massage therapist. Manual lymphatic drainage is a common technique used to treat lymphedema patients and is useful in the treatment of liposuction patients the first 4-6 weeks. Patients can expect approximately 80% of the edema to resolve within 4-6 weeks; it takes a full 4-6 months for all of the swelling to resolve.

Patients should begin ambulating on the day of surgery. Oral fluids and a high-protein diet should be encouraged. Physical activity should be low for the first week, followed by a gradual increase in activity during the second week, depending on the amount of suction performed. At the end of the first or second week (depending on the amount of suction), the patient should be encouraged to get on a treadmill or walk outside (with compression garments on). Upper body conditioning can also begin. At 4-6 weeks, assuming edema and bruising are resolving appropriately, the patient should be advancing to full activity. These guidelines are general and must be tailored to the individual patient.

Return to work depends on many factors: the patient's profession, the amount of liposuction, the patient's general health, the patient's physical and emotional recovery, and the patient's desire to return to work. After an average medium-volume liposuction (2-4 L), most patients return to work in less than 1 week. They feel tired and sore but can function appropriately. For large-volume liposuction (>5 L), the average patient should schedule 2 weeks off work. Many patients who schedule small-volume liposuction (< 2 L) desire surgery on Friday afternoon and plan to return to work on Monday. This can be done; anecdotally, patients who do not plan any recovery time seem to have a lot of early swelling and a prolonged eventual total recovery time.

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Complications

Short-term complications

See the list below:

  • Hypesthesia, paresthesias, edema, ecchymosis, hematoma, seroma, and infection usually resolve quickly and are not complicated. Hematomas and seromas may need to be evacuated with large needles or skin incisions. Infections often resolve with oral antibiotics although a low incidence of devastating necrotizing fasciitis has been reported.
  • Fat emboli can be fatal but are rare.
  • Skin necrosis can occur, usually as small areas. It usually can be treated conservatively with local wound care.
  • Pulmonary edema has been reported as a complication of tumescent liposuction.[10]

Long-term complications

See the list below:

  • The most common long-term complication is contour irregularity. This is related to the surgeon's experience and may respond to massage therapy. Treat it conservatively for at least 6 months. Perform autologous fat grafting, further liposuction, or skin excision as needed. Various studies state minor revision rates of 2-10%.
  • Skin color changes are rare but are more common with aggressive superficial ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL).

Specific incidences for the complications of liposuction are difficult to ascertain. Physicians of various specialties perform liposuction in hospitals, surgical centers, and private offices. The most devastating complication of liposuction, death, has been reviewed statistically. In January 2000, Grazer published an article in which he reported the fatal outcomes of liposuction using a census survey of cosmetic surgeons.[13] He surveyed 1,200 actively practicing, board-certified North American aesthetic plastic surgeons who were members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Of those surveyed, 917 reported that from 1994-1997, 95 fatalities occurred after 496,245 lipoplasties. This yields a mortality rate of 1 in 5224 (< 0.5%). This is similar to rates quoted elsewhere. Pulmonary thromboembolism was the major cause of death in 23.4 (±2.6%) of these deaths.

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Outcome and Prognosis

Liposuction is an extremely effective surgical tool that affords excellent results. Patients still can gain weight after undergoing liposuction, but their shape remains more balanced than before the procedure. In most published studies on liposuction, approximately 10% of patients require a minor touch-up within a few months of surgery. In appropriately selected patients, liposuction performed by skilled surgeons yields patient satisfaction rates greater than 90%.

The multimedia section contains 3 sets of preoperative and postoperative photos of patients who underwent ultrasound-assisted lipectomy (UAL), suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL), or both.

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Future and Controversies

Controversies exist regarding simultaneous use of liposuction with other procedures for body contouring. Some surgeons routinely perform liposuction while performing procedures such as abdominoplasty. Careful understanding of the anatomy is important to minimize tissue necrosis. Studies continue to support the concurrent use of liposuction with abdominoplasty, with high satisfaction and low complication rates.[14, 15]

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Allen Gabriel, MD, FACS Assistant Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery, Loma Linda University School of Medicine

Allen Gabriel, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Medical Association, California Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Julian B Gordon, MD Plastic Surgeon, Plastikos Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Julian B Gordon, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society for Reconstructive Microsurgery, Sigma Xi

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Martha Matthews, MD Associate Professor of Surgery, Cooper Medical School of Rowan University

Martha Matthews, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, New Jersey Society of Plastic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Peter A Kreymerman, MD Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Carolinas Center for Surgery, Carteret General Hospital

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Mary Katherine Gingrass, MD, FACS Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Plastic Surgery, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine; Consulting Surgeon, The Plastic Surgery Center of Nashville

Mary Katherine Gingrass, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Tennessee Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Farzad R Nahai, MD Assistant Clinical Professor, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Emory University School of Medicine; Consulting Surgeon, Paces Plastic Surgery

Farzad R Nahai, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American Society of Plastic Surgeons

Disclosure: Received grant/research funds from Pfizer for none; Received consulting fee from DSM for consulting.

Specialty Editor Board

Francisco Talavera, PharmD, PhD Adjunct Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Received salary from Medscape for employment. for: Medscape.

Alan Matarasso, MD, FACS PC, Clinical Professor of Plastic Surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Immed Past President of New York Regional Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Alan Matarasso, MD, FACS is a member of the following medical societies: American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, International College of Surgeons US Section, New York Academy of Medicine, New York County Medical Society, Pan America Medical Association of Central Florida, Pan-Pacific Surgical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Deepak Narayan, MD, FRCS Associate Professor of Surgery (Plastic), Yale University School of Medicine; Chief of Plastic Surgery, West Haven Veterans Affairs Medical Center

Deepak Narayan, MD, FRCS is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for the Advancement of Science, American College of Surgeons, American Medical Association, American Society of Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic Surgery Research Council, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Indian Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Gregory Gary Caputy, MD, PhD, FICS Chief Surgeon, Aesthetica

Gregory Gary Caputy, MD, PhD, FICS is a member of the following medical societies: Wound Healing Society, American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, International College of Surgeons, International College of Surgeons US Section, Pan-Pacific Surgical Association

Disclosure: Receive salary from Advantage Wound Care for employment. for: On the speaker's bureau for Smith and Nephew for Santyl Ointment.

References
  1. American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). Quick Facts: Highlights of the ASAPS 2007 Statistics on Cosmetic Surgery. ASAPS Web site. Available at http://www.surgery.org/download/2007QFacts.pdf. Accessed: March 5, 2009.

  2. Pitanguy I. Evaluation of body contouring surgery today: a 30-year perspective. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000 Apr. 105(4):1499-514; discussion 1515-6. [Medline].

  3. Kesselring UK, Meyer R. A suction curette for removal of excessive local deposits of subcutaneous fat. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1978 Aug. 62(2):305-6. [Medline].

  4. Fournier PF, Otteni FM. Lipodissection in body sculpturing: the dry procedure. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1983 Nov. 72(5):598-609. [Medline].

  5. Illouz YG. Body contouring by lipolysis: a 5-year experience with over 3000 cases. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1983 Nov. 72(5):591-7. [Medline].

  6. Mann MW, Palm MD, Sengelmann RD. New advances in liposuction technology. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2008 Mar. 27(1):72-82. [Medline].

  7. Roustaei N, Masoumi Lari SJ, Chalian M, Chalian H, Bakhshandeh H. Safety of Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction: A Survey of 660 Operations. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2008 Dec 18. [Medline].

  8. Matarasso A. Superficial suction lipectomy: something old, something new, something borrowed.... Ann Plast Surg. 1995 Mar. 34(3):268-72; discussion 272-3. [Medline].

  9. Pitman GH, Aker JS, Tripp ZD. Tumescent liposuction. A surgeon's perspective. Clin Plast Surg. 1996 Oct. 23(4):633-41; discussion 642-5. [Medline].

  10. Gilliland MD, Coates N. Tumescent liposuction complicated by pulmonary edema. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1997 Jan. 99(1):215-9. [Medline].

  11. Klein JA. The tumescent technique. Anesthesia and modified liposuction technique. Dermatol Clin. 1990 Jul. 8(3):425-37. [Medline].

  12. Dr. Vodder School International. Available at http://www.vodderschool.com/. Accessed: March 5, 2009.

  13. Grazer FM, de Jong RH. Fatal outcomes from liposuction: census survey of cosmetic surgeons. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. 2000. 105(1):447-448. [Medline].

  14. Swanson E. Prospective outcome study of 360 patients treated with liposuction, lipoabdominoplasty, and abdominoplasty. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012 Apr. 129(4):965-78. [Medline].

  15. Weiler J, Taggart P, Khoobehi K. A case for the safety and efficacy of lipoabdominoplasty: a single surgeon retrospective review of 173 consecutive cases. Aesthet Surg J. 2010 Sep. 30(5):702-13. [Medline].

  16. Illouz YG. Illouz's technique of body contouring by lipolysis. Clin Plast Surg. 1984 Jul. 11(3):409-17. [Medline].

  17. Pitman GH, Teimourian B. Suction lipectomy: complications and results by survey. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1985 Jul. 76(1):65-72. [Medline].

  18. Teimourian B, Adham MN. A national survey of complications associated with suction lipectomy: what we did then and what we do now. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2000 Apr. 105(5):1881-4. [Medline].

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Liposuction, trunk. Posterior view of patient before tumescent suctioning. Note the excess fat on the hips, inner thighs, and outer thighs.
Liposuction, trunk. Frontal view of patient before tumescent suctioning. Note the excess fat on the hips, inner thighs, and outer thighs.
Liposuction, trunk. Posterior view 3 months after 3 L of tumescent liposuction without ultrasound assistance. A reduction in the total fat on the hips and thighs is readily seen. A smooth "hourglass" contour has been obtained.
Liposuction, trunk. Frontal view 3 months after 3 L of tumescent liposuction without ultrasound assistance. A reduction in the total fat on the hips and thighs is readily seen. A smooth "hourglass" contour has been obtained.
Preoperative rear view of a 38-year-old woman with history of 1 prior pregnancy.
Preoperative front view of 38-year-old woman with history of 1 prior pregnancy.
Postoperative rear view of patient in media files 5-6, 1 year after UAL and SAL of the abdomen, hips, flanks, and circumferential thighs.
Postoperative front view of patient in media files 5-6, 1 year after UAL and SAL of the abdomen, hips, flanks, and circumferential thighs.
Preoperative front view of 42-year-old woman with a history of weight fluctuations.
Preoperative rear view of 42-year-old woman with a history of weight fluctuations.
Postoperative front view of same patient in media files 9-10, 1 year following UAL and SAL of the abdomen, hips, flanks, and circumferential thighs.
Postoperative rear view of same patient in media files 9-10, 1 year following UAL and SAL of the abdomen, hips, flanks, and circumferential thighs.
 
 
 
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