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Liposuction is a form of cosmetic surgery that removes fat from various areas on the body. Unlike some other cosmetic procedures that may inject implants under the skin, or pull, cut, tighten, or reshape the body, liposuction is the process of suctioning fat cells out of the body, thereby reducing the amount of fat present. The process provides body contouring and reshaping as fat cells are removed. As obesity continues to increase in the United States, so too has the amount of liposuction procedures performed nationwide. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), liposuction leads all other cosmetic procedures in popularity. Though liposuction removes fat from the body that promotes weight loss, the procedure is recommended for body contouring and shaping, rather than one that is used for weight loss.

Liposuction is performed on adults, it is not a procedure used on children, as it is a cosmetic surgery used by those intending to improve their physical appearance. There are certain situation and circumstances in which liposuction may be used for health purposes. These include when men are suffering from Gynecomastia or if there are fat tumors that need to be shrunk or removed through liposuction. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the sale of equipment used to perform liposuctions; however, they do not provide direct oversight to a physician practicing in his or her office. Licensed dermatologists and plastic surgeons perform the greatest amount of liposuctions and patients having the procedure often select them to perform it. Any licensed physician, however, may perform liposuction.

Liposuction may be completed on various areas of the body such as the abdomen, buttocks, thighs, arms, legs, and back. The procedure is performed by using a small instrument called a canula. The canula resembles a pen and is inserted under the skin where it finds fat and breaks it into small pieces. Though the process is relatively straight forward, it is not without risks. One of the most common risks associated with liposuction is infection at the site where the canula entered the skin. Those who undergo liposuction must ensure they thoroughly clean the site wound to prevent infections. Swelling is a common side effect, but in some cases, swelling may continue or be prolonged. A serious side effect that must be taken into account by those undergoing liposuction is paresthesias. Paresthesias is a condition in which there is damage to nerves in the area where the procedure occurred. This may result in a loss of feeling or sensation, or it could result in hyperactivity in the area where someone feels more pain than they did before the procedure. Paresthesias is often a permanent condition and those considering liposuction should be aware of the possibility of developing the disorder. Though Paresthesias may prove uncomfortable, it is not life threatening.

One side effect that may prove fatal is the development of embolisms. Embolisms occur when some of the fat that has broken away during the process are not sucked away through the canula, but enters blood vessels that were damaged through the process. The fat cells then circulate through the body and can cause permanent disability and damage and may prove to be fatal. Another possibility or complication is the accidental puncturing of various organs. This may result in the need for surgery but may also have life threatening consequences or prove to be fatal. These are just a few of the potential life threatening side effects that may occur because of liposuction. Those considering the procedure should speak with their health care provider and read any subsequent materials to ensure they understand the full risks and benefits of liposuction. Speaking with those who have underwent liposuction is also a good way to ensure you understand the process and what to expect afterward. Keep in mind that everyone is different and not everyone will have the same experience.

Before undergoing liposuction, make certain that you have realistic expectations. Determine the truthfulness of any advertisements associated with the procedure and ensure you have thoroughly researched the procedure before deciding it is best for you.

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