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

A fat removal procedure can help men and women of all ages to overcome the embarrassment caused by localised areas of excess fat. Fat removal techniques such as liposculpture and liposuction are most suitable for the reduction or removal of stubborn areas of fat that have previously proved resistant to normal diet and exercise regimes.

A fat removal procedure involves the permanent surgical removal of fat from just below the surface of the skin through suction keyhole surgery. This procedure can be performed under local or general anaesthetic and 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, and not to produce a magic weight loss result.

What kind of men and women request this procedure?

  • Men and women of all ages who want to improve the shape of their body
  • Men and women who have uneven proportions
  • Men and women who feel that their body proportions interfere with their daily activities and ability to exercise in comfort
  • Men and women who feel that their body shape restricts their choice in the clothes they can wear
  • 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 fat removal surgery

What are the results like?

This particular procedure can provide dramatic results, correcting a disproportionate shape.

The 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 skilfully perform this type of surgery.

Improved results will take place almost immediately following surgery, but these 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 thighs
  • Lower abdomen
  • Lower buttock folds
  • Chest area (in men only)

How is a fat removal procedure performed?

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

Patients can be either fully anaesthetised or sedated throughout this procedure, which can take an average of between 1 - 2 hours to perform. The type of anaesthetic chosen will usually determine whether a patient is treated as a day case or required to stay in hospital overnight to recover. Techniques for fat removal vary between surgeons and according to the individual needs of each patient.

However, most commonly, the surgeon injects the selected area with a clear solution that limits bleeding and bruising and numbs the surrounding tissue. This solution will be absorbed in part by the body and the remaining solution will leak out of the tiny cannula incisions for several days 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 4 - 6 weeks following surgery. This support garment is important, as it adds pressure to the newly formed shape and assists with the early reduction of swelling and tissue healing.

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

Whilst fat removal procedures are usually considered reasonably minor, 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 the 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. 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 one week and then for a minimum of another three weeks during the daytime.

It is usual for patients to take around 7 days away from work, dependant on the nature of the patient's work and the volume of fat removed.

Are there any risks involved in fat removal surgery?

All surgery involves an element of risk from developing complications. However, cosmetic surgery is usually undertaken voluntarily and only when a patient is in good health. Therefore, the probability of experiencing complications from this kind of surgery is substantially lower than for those who undergo surgery for ill health reasons.

Risks such as bleeding, infection, alteration in sensitivity, irregularity 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 individual's skin will determine how moderate or dramatic the shape change can be. Although in the majority of cases, loose skin following surgery is not a significant problem it is worth bearing in mind that not everyone is suitable for this procedure for this reason. A careful assessment of an individual's 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 area/s can sometimes be irregular particularly if a lot of fat has been removed. However, if an appropriately skilled surgeon carries out this technique 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 varies from patient to patient. 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 keyhole 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, patients can develop discoloured, unsightly firm scars, known as hypertrophic or keloid scarring, which may require further corrective treatment.

What next?

The importance of a thorough pre-operative consultation with the Consultant Plastic Surgeon who will perform your procedure cannot be over stressed. At One Healthcare, each consultation is tailored to an individual's needs. The process will always involve a thorough evaluation of your present and past medical history and a physical examination of the area of concern.

Your surgeon will take time to listen to your concerns and will take care to ensure that you have a thorough understanding of what can be done to help, the procedure itself, the recovery stages and a clear explanation of the risks involved. You will need time to consider all these factors before making a decision regarding fat removal surgery.

You are positively encouraged to ask any questions that you may have and to look at photographs of others who have had the same type of surgery that you are considering. If you would find it helpful, our advisory team may be able to arrange for you to speak with a previous One Healthcare patient who is willing to discuss their experience with you over the telephone.

How to arrange a consultation with a fully qualified Consultant with GMC specialist registration

Please feel free to call our Customer Service Advisory Team at your local One Healthcare Hospital who will be pleased to answer any queries, or make an appointment for you to meet with a Consultant Surgeon who has specialist skills and experience in laser resurfacing processes.

Our Customer Advisory Service is personally manned between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday. We will also be happy to discreetly return your call if you leave a short message, forwarding name and telephone number on our confidential answer phone after office hours.

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