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Long term effects of liposuction
The long-term effects of liposuction have proven to be very minimal when performed by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. However, complications with ultrasound-assisted liposuction can occur. Long-term effects of liposuction may be more common when large volumes of fat are removed, and when aggressive suction is used against the tissue closest to the skin. Many of the long-term effects of liposuction used in the ultrasound method are the same as traditional liposuction. Possible long-term effects of liposuction include bruising, swelling bleeding, infection, and change in nerve function.
Asymmetry or unevenness can occur in up to 3% of patients causing surface irregularity, but this is not considered one of the long-term effects of liposuction because only a third of these need additional surgery. A brown discoloration of skin may occur in up to 4% of patients. The brown pigment is due to hemosiderin, an iron material found in cells that is produced when red blood cells break down, and also increased pigment due to inflammation. It can be long lasting and seems to be one of the more common long-term effects of liposuction when the inner thigh is suctioned.
Nerve damage may be one of the long-term effects of liposuction, due to stripping of the outer sheath of nerve cells containing a fatty layer called myelin. Up to 6% of patients experience problems resulting in damage to sensory nerves, resulting in pins and needles feelings, and aching pain. Damage to the nerve that supplies the lower face muscles can occur after suctioning along the jaw. However, it appears to recover on its own requiring no treatment, and with no long-term effects of liposuction.
The long-term effects of liposuction can result in fat fibrosis and necrosis in up to 4% of patients. Small lumps and texture change in the skin are experienced, as well as, small pieces of fat breaking off during the suction process. They feel similar to small sausage-shaped areas under the skin and just above the muscle, and maybe a site for pain and discomfort. Skin necrosis can occur if the ultrasonic probe damages the blood supply to the skin or cause burns directly. This may kill the cells of a small area of skin. Skin laxity is possible in older patients where the skin may not be very elastic, and in situations where large amounts of fat are removed. An advantage of ultrasonic liposuction is that it appears to tighten the skin more than traditional liposuction. In other cases additional surgery may be necessary. Burns can also be one of the long-term effects of liposuction, occurring in up to 4% of patients. The introduction of skin protection at the entry point of the cannula reduces the instance of burns. Additionally, the superwet method reduces the risk of burns in the cavity being suctioned.
The presence of excess fluids can cause long-term effects of liposuction. Prolonged drainage occurs sometimes after surgery consisting of a mixture of the wetting solution used in tumescent liposuction, and particles of fat and residual oils. Another effect is the formation of seromas. A seroma is a collection of fluid or serum and is the most common of all the long-term effects of liposuction using the ultrasonic method.
Free radicals may be created by the surgery, and most doctors suggest antioxidant medications before and after surgery to reduce the possible long-term effects of liposuction. It is a precautionary step since no major evidence of liposuction-related cancer has been found to be a long-term effect of liposuction.
There are also points to consider with the newer techniques. For example, in ultrasound-assisted liposuction, the heat from the ultrasound device used to liquefy the fat cells may cause injury to the skin or deeper tissues. Ultrasound-assisted liposuction has been performed successfully on several thousand people worldwide, however, the long-term effects of ultrasound energy on the body are not yet known.
Slight imperfections in the final appearance are not uncommon after liposuction. The skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric or even saggy, especially in older patients with less elastic skin. Numbness and pigmentation changes may occur. Sometimes, additional surgery may be recommended. Most importantly, the fat cells that are removed by liposuction do not grow back. If you gain or lose additional weight, the change will be distributed among the remaining fat cells. Long-term body weight loss is not one of the long-term effects of liposuction.