The abdomen is the body area most frequently treated by liposuction. Abdominal liposuction is frequently requested by men and women who want a flatter tummy. Many men and women have an upper abdominal or lower abdominal area of excess fat, and some have both. Abdominal fat deposits can be extremely resistant to diet or exercise. Local anaesthetic is all that is required. With the tumescent liposuction technique, local anaesthetic is all that is required for abdominal liposuction. The costs and risks associated with general anaesthesia are eliminated. In addition, trauma to the fat tissue and bleeding are both dramatically reduced with the tumescent technique.
Recovery is fast. Most of our abdominal liposuction patients are back to work in three days. Like other diet-resistant deposit body sites, there is a genetic predisposition for the fat to localise in the abdominal area for many patients. Fortunately, localised subcutaneous adiposity of the abdomen usually responds well to liposuction. This is the problem that most patients who want a flatter stomach have.
In the less common case, the lower abdominal wall and abdominal muscles extend forward, and they are the cause of the bulge that is seen. Although the traditional treatment has been tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, this is rapidly changing. Tumescent liposuction with small cannulas can have results such that the tummy tuck is no longer necessary in most patients. In the unlikely event that the tummy tuck is still required after the ultimate liposuction result is apparent, it can be performed some time after the original liposuction. When performed in this way, the tummy tuck is likely to be a much smaller, more comfortable and a safer procedure than when performed initially with, or in place of, abdominal liposuction. However, it should be repeated that a subsequent tummy tuck after liposuction is now rarely needed.
Tumescent abdominal liposuction is performed with local anesthetic only, and thus side-effects and risks of liposuction are markedly decreased. The abdominal area is anaesthetised with the tumescent solution which is spread throughout the area to be treated. The incisions which are used to perform the liposuction are very small, and there are usually several. Each one is used and fat is removed with suction from all possible directions to assure the most even result possible.
After the procedure, patients are able to get up and walk immediately. Dressings and a mild compression garment are applied after the procedure. Detailed verbal and written instructions are given.
We have found that patients who have a very good idea of what to expect experience little if any worry or difficulty after the procedure, so quite a bit of instruction is given. Following tumescent liposuction of the abdomen, Tylenol is usually all that is required for discomfort. The patient is encouraged to be up and around, and to be somewhat active, rather than lie in bed. Short walks are recommended starting immediately after the procedure.
Beginning the morning following abdominal liposuction, showers are fine and are recommended once or twice a day. There is usually considerable tumescent fluid drainage for the first 24 hours. Drainage continues for up to around 48-72 hours, but lessens a great deal after the first 24 hours. Because the drainage is fast during the first day after abdominal liposuction, the abdomen rapidly becomes flatter during this time. However, as the drainage diminishes, abdominal swelling often increases on the second and third day. Swelling goes down only slowly after that.
Often, swelling at and near the beltline area makes it somewhat difficult to bend at the waist for several days. However, when you are not bending at the waist, discomfort is usually not significant. Some swelling usually remains for several weeks, and lumpiness of the treated area is common during this time. After 2-3 weeks, the swelling diminishes to the point that the liposuction result begins to become apparent. Final results will take considerably longer, as the swelling which accompanies the healing gradually fades away. But by three weeks or so, many patients find a significant difference in the way their clothes fit, and some are already buying new ones because of the change in their abdomen.
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