A nation of quick-fix seekers, liposuction – a means to reduce your body fat with what is essentially a Hoover – is growing in popularity. In the UK, the British Association Of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons has seen a 12 per cent rise in cases between 2017 and 2018 alone. Interestingly, once the sole domain of women, a small but strong rise in men seeking liposuction is also continuing to gather pace. Some private clinics are even reporting that men now account for 25 per cent of all cases. Yet, irrespective of the stats, is liposuction really the answer we’ve all been looking for? Or is it yet another distraction of how to really control our weight? Here’s the skinny on liposuction…
What is liposuction?
Liposuction is a surgical procedure in which your body fat is removed by suction. It’s mainly used to aesthetically enhance and recontour your body fat-prone areas, such as your hips and tummy.
How long has liposuction been around?
Surprisingly, not that long. Surgeons in the Sixties were trialling ways to remove fat but found they could only do this in areas of the body that did not have a dense blood supply. Otherwise, they found their patients were bleeding excessively. The technique then evolved over the next decade to become a procedure (much similar to today’s) using a blunt-ended cannula (tube) to break up areas of solid fat, before sucking it all out via a suction tube linked to the cannula. I know, charming.
Can I get liposuction on the NHS?
For 99.9 per cent of cases that’ll be a flat no. The NHS does not deal with cosmetically enhancing procedures. The time liposuction is used on the NHS is for cases in which there is a need for male breast tissue reduction, for conditions such as gynaecomastia or in reconstructive surgery.
Will liposuction help me lose weight?
If you want to have a quick, short-term fix for some weight loss and contouring then maybe liposuction will work. What it will never do is support long-term weight loss or provide an answer for our obesitycrisis. For that, nothing has changed, with exercise, active lifestyles and a balanced diet being the foundations to succeeding long-term. As an aside, if you have had significant weight loss and have loose skin, liposuction won’t rectify this issue either.
Is liposuction expensive?
This is pretty relative to your financial position. The UK price list I have found puts liposuction costs at anywhere between £2,000 and £6,000. This will vary depending on what exactly you are having extracted from you. You can, of course, look abroad but my advice is don’t, for you cannot guarantee anything and we have seen too many not dissimilar cases of other cosmetic procedures end in death.
How is liposuction performed?
If you’ve ever unblocked a drain you’ll get the gist. Under a general, regional (a part of your body) or local anaesthetic, the following will occur:
* One or more cannulas are inserted into the area from which fat is to be removed.
* Using high-frequency vibrations, laser or high-pressure water-jet, the fat cells are broken up.
* A suction tube attached to the cannula (under negative pressure) sucks out the loosened fat.
* Any excess fluid or blood is also drained.
* All equipment is removed and you are stitched up.
It takes up to three hours depending on how large an area is being treated (I use that word in the cosmetic not the medical treatment sense) and usually wins you an overnight hospital stay.
What happens after the procedure?
Well, after your hospital stay, you’ll head home. There are, however, a number of common post-operative side effects that you should expect:
* Bruising and swelling for up to six months.
* Numbness around the operated site for six to eight weeks.
* Scarring where the cannula (it may be more than one) was inserted.
Then, of course, there are the more serious complications from this, and any surgical procedure, to bear in mind:
* Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis in a limb or a pulmonary embolus in the lungs).
* Perforation of a nearby organ.
* Death (1:10,000 cases roughly).
My final word on liposuction
It’s false advertising that preys on a society that is being taught to be reactive rather than proactive when it comes to our weight. Liposuction is, after all, not going to keep you looking slim and toned. It may well, yes, flatten your tummy for a few months (as long as the bruising has gone down by then), but if it’s not supported by genuine weight control measures (balanced diet, exercise and active lifestyle) then you will put the weight back on – only remaining up to £6,000 lighter. The irony to all of this is that it works best on people who are a normal weight and on areas where the skin is tight. And any argument that, by reducing body fat in this way you may help reverse or prevent obesity-related metabolic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, are quite frankly bollocks. You can tell I’m a fan.