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Tumescent liposuction is a surgical procedure that can safely remove stubborn pockets of fat. It is a surgical procedure. It is not a weight-loss surgery. Dermatologists recommend tumescent liposuction for patients who want to:
- Remove limited, small amounts of fat that remain despite dieting and exercising
- Treat a lipoma (fatty tumor that is not cancer)
- Reduce breast size (men and women)
A dermatologist also may recommend this surgical procedure to a patient who has a medical condition called hyperhidrosis. This condition causes a person to sweat more than is needed to cool the body. Removing some of the overactive sweat glands can help reduce underarm sweating.
WHAT IS TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION?
Dermatologists developed tumescent liposuction, which offers many advantages over traditional liposuction.
In tumescent liposuction, dermatologists use local anesthesia, which means the patient remains awake during the procedure. While this may not sound like an advantage, staying awake eliminates the risks associated with general anesthesia that puts a patient to sleep. General anesthesia is used in traditional liposuction procedures. Staying awake also improves results. During the procedure, a dermatologist can ask you to move into different positions. This helps the dermatologist sculpt the area.
Research confirms that tumescent liposuction is the safest form of this procedure when performed by a dermatologist
with proper education, training and expertise.
Before: Tumescent liposuction
After: Tumescent liposuction
WHY IS TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION PREFERRED BY DERMATOLOGISTS?
Patients who undergo tumescent liposuction have fewer complications than those who undergo traditional liposuction. When compared with traditional liposuction, tumescent liposuction offers you a faster recovery time, fewer skin imperfections, and less bleeding and bruising.
Like all surgery, tumescent liposuction has some risks. These include lumpiness, dimpling, loose skin, numbness, infection, and scarring. These side effects are rare. If a side effect occurs, a dermatologist usually can correct it. Finding a board-certified dermatologist who has performed this surgery with good results further reduces the risks.
WHERE ON THE BODY CAN TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION BE PERFORMED?
Tumescent liposuction can remove small amounts of fat from nearly any part of the body. Areas that can be treated include the face, neck, chin, breasts, abdomen, hips, waist, back, thighs, buttocks, knees, calves, and ankles.
Patients who see the best results have:
- Good muscle tone
- Skin that quickly bounces back when stretched or pulled
- A small amount of fat to remove
If your body does not have these traits, another procedure may be recommended. Sometimes a dermatologist will recommend that you have both tumescent liposuction and another procedure to tighten or remove loose skin.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN I MEET WITH THE DERMATOLOGIST BEFORE THE PROCEDURE?
Before having tumescent liposuction, you should meet with your board-certified dermatologist. During the consultation, the dermatologist asks you about your expectations. Tumescent liposuction may not be able to deliver the results you expect. The dermatologist may propose other options.
The dermatologist also considers your health. To do this, the dermatologist reviews your medical history and performs a physical exam.
If all looks well, the dermatologist gives you an order for blood work. Other tests may be necessary.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK WHEN I MEET WITH THE DERMATOLOGIST?
You should ask your dermatologist direct questions about his or her credentials, training, and patient results. Ask the following questions before having tumescent liposuction.
- Will a board-certified dermatologist perform the procedure? The success of any cosmetic procedure, including tumescent liposuction, is highly dependent on the knowledge and skill of the person performing it. For this reason, the American Academy of Dermatology urges everyone considering a cosmetic procedure to select a doctor who is board certified in dermatology or a similar medical
- How many times has the dermatologist performed tumescent liposuction? Don’t be afraid to ask this question. Tumescent liposuction should be a procedure that the dermatologist performs
- What results can I expect? A dermatologist typically tells a patient what to expect after visually examining the skin and gathering a medical history. A dermatologist also can tell the patient if the procedure will deliver the desired results and if it is appropriate for the
- May I see “before” and “after” photographs of patients or speak with patients whom have had this procedure? Dermatologists are willing to share their results through photographs or referrals. If you are talking with a doctor who is hesitant to show photos or let you speak with other patients, find one who
If you are not satisfied with the answers to your questions, you can seek another opinion.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT ON THE DAY OF THE PROCEDURE?
Tumescent liposuction can safely be performed in a medical office. On the day of the procedure, large amounts of a solution are injected into the area to be treated. This solution usually contains an anesthetic to numb the area and epinephrine, a drug, to minimize blood loss.
This solution causes the area to swell temporarily. With swelling, the area becomes firm. This helps the dermatologist
perform the procedure.
Once the area is ready, the dermatologist inserts a small (or thin) tube called a cannula into the skin. Using the cannula, the dermatologist skillfully removes the unwanted fat. You may move into different positions during the procedure to help the dermatologist sculpt the area.
Once the unwanted fat is removed, the dermatologist dresses the wound. An elastic compression garment may be placed on top. This helps return the treated area to its normal size and the skin to heal.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AFTER THE PROCEDURE?
Most patients feel alert and able to function after tumescent liposuction. While you may feel alert, you will need someone to drive you home.
Before leaving the office, you will receive your after-surgery instructions. The instructions include how to care for the treated area at home. Carefully following these instructions ensures the best results and reduces side effects.
Many people return to work after 48 hours and resume all normal activities within one week of the surgery. This varies from patient to patient. The dermatologist will tell you when it is safe to return to work and resume normal activities.
HOW DO I KNOW WHAT TYPE OF TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION IS BEST FOR ME?
During the consultation or while looking for information about tumescent liposuction, you often encounter technical terms. You may hear or read terms such as laser liposuction, water jet liposuction, ultrasonic liposuction, and
power-assisted liposuction. These are different technologies. Each dermatologist usually has a favorite, but this does
not mean that one delivers better results.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE A BOARD-CERTIFIED DERMATOLOGIST FOR TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION?
Choosing a qualified, board-certified dermatologist is the key to getting desirable results. Dermatologists have the medical education, training and experience to safely and effectively perform tumescent liposuction.
Dermatologists are skin surgery experts. After medical school, they receive extensive training in treating the skin. This training includes instruction in tumescent liposuction. After becoming board certified, these doctors continue a program of lifelong learning to keep up on latest advances in surgical and non-surgical methods for treating the skin.
A board-certified dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating the medical, surgical and cosmetic conditions of the skin, hair and nails. To learn more, visit aad.org or call toll free (888) 462-DERM (3376) to find a board-certified dermatologist in your area.
All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology.
Copyright © by the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides
American Academy of Dermatology
P.O. Box 1968, Des Plaines, Illinois 60017
AAD Public Information Center: 888.462.DERM (3376) AAD Member Resource Center: 866.503.SKIN (7546) Outside the United States: 847.240.1280