Tumescent Liposuction

What Is Tumescent Liposuction?

Tumescent liposuction is one of the most common cosmetic procedures in the world and the most common cosmetic procedure in the United States. It first started to be used commercially in the mid 1980s. It is so popular because not only is it very safe it's also very accurate.

There are two principal advantages of tumescent liposuction, one is that it is only minimally invasive, requiring a few small incisions and the second being that it only requires a local anaesthetic, except only in rare cases. These factors reduce recovery time considerably (24-48hrs). The technique involves the injection of a very dilute form of local anaesthesia (lidocaine and epinephrine) into the layer of fat beneath the skin. This causes the fat to become swollen and firm, making it more easily removable. The drug epinephrine causes acute localised vascoconstriction, virtually eliminating bleeding during the procedure.

History Of Tumescent Liposuction

Modern liposuction as we now know it was originally developed in Italy and France in the late 70s and early 80s before being introduced commercially into the United States in 1982. It wasn't until 1985 and the work of Dr. Jeffrey Klein, a California dermatologist, that tumescent liposuction began to really take off. Before then liposuction was associated with heavy blood loss requiring blood transfusions and prolonged stays in hospital, and always required general anaesthesia. The tumescent technique required only local anaesthesia and has virtually eliminated blood loss.

The first publicised description of this new technique was published in 1987, in the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery. Because the tumescent technique is so much safer than previous techniques and because it requires only local as opposed to general anaesthesia, it is the most commonly used technique in the world. It is also a lot less painful and requires much less recovery time.

Advantages Of Tumescent Liposuction Over Traditional Liposuction

Tumescent liposuction has several additional benefits over other methods of liposuction. During the tumescent liposuction procedure, large amounts of saline, together with anaesthetic and epinephrine, are pumped into the target area. The saline helps to break down the fat cells, making them easier to remove.

tumescent liposuction removes fat cells from the body
  • Minimal Anaesthetic - As the anaesthetic is contained in the saline solution, there is no need to anaesthetise the patient further, although some may benefit from mild sedation if nervous.
  • Smaller Instruments - Tumescent liposuction uses a smaller cannula than any other liposuction technique, making bleeding and bruising less of a problem.
  • Less Bleeding - The epinephrine in the saline solution shrinks smaller blood vessels which also helps minimise bleeding.
  • Reduced Bruising - Because there is less bleeding, you may also experience reduced bruising.
  • Use of Compression Treatment - After surgery, you will wear a compression garment to help your skin contract and recover from the procedure. This has a sculpting effect on your body and results in less dimpling, lumpiness and skin irregularity than is seen with other techniques.
  • Faster Recovery - As there is no need for a general anaesthetic, you will not need to recover from unpleasant after effects. Also, as this is an efficient technique which results in reduced bleeding and bruising, it follows that recovery will normally be faster than with other procedures.

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Advantages Of The Technique

The improved safety of tumescent liposuction is such that patients will only lose on average approximately only 1 to 2 tablespoons of blood from even large volume liposuction. Before tumescent liposuction, the potential for blood loss was so great that patients were required to donate blood a few weeks before surgery, so that it could be transfused back into the patient during surgery. Blood transfusions are now no longer needed as a result of tumescent liposuction.

Post-operative bruising has also been significantly reduced as a result of the tumescent technique. Part of the reason for this is that because there is so little blood loss, there is hardly any blood left under the skin to cause bruising. Also, because the incisions are so small, they do not require stitches and so can remain open allowing the blood-tinged local-anaesthetic solution to drain out of the wounds, therefore further reducing post-operative swelling and bruising. Patients who undergo tumescent surgery can usually leave the hospital or clinic the next day, and walk unassisted, with minimal pain or discomfort. In comparison people who undergo normal liposuction will be very sore and can be incapacitated for days or even weeks after surgery.

Smoother Results

The cannulae used in tumescent liposuction are typically thinner than those used in other liposuction techniques and have been miniaturised to such an extent that the incisions required for their insertion often require no stitches afterwards and leave minimal scarring. Larger cannulae are associated with an increased risk of post-procedural skin irregularities, such as dimpling or bumps.

Cost Of Treatment

There are a number of factors that can influence the cost of tumescent liposuction. Perhaps the most significant of these is the area of the body being operated on.

According to figures provided by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons the average cost of tumescent liposuction is around £1800 to £2000. This can rise depending on the areas being worked on and the number of procedures being performed.

Work on the arms and buttocks tends to be cheapest, whilst liposuction to the breast area is usually the most expensive. Due to the adaptability and minimal invasiveness of tumescent liposuction, costs can be reduced because multiple procedures can be carried out on the patient in one session. Instead of having to be booked in for each procedure separately, and the extra clinic costs that that would incur, it can all be done in one day, saving time and money. Published medical reports and patient testimony all point to the fact that the aesthetic results and safety of the tumescent technique are far superior to that of normal liposuction.

Recovering From Tumescent Liposuction

Recovery time is minimal as it is not considered to be a large surgical procedure. Most patients recovering from tumescent liposuction feel they are able to go back to work after or within one week, depending on the location and size of the area that has been treated. A full after-care programme is recommended to minimise the risk of infection and patients should not take part in any strenuous activity for a while until fully recovered. The incisions made during the procedure heal quickly and leave minimal or no scarring, whilst the results of the liposuction are instantaneous.

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