Long Term Side Effects of Liposuction
Hate fat? You have every reason not to like excess fat, especially the one piling up over your abdomen. Having a lot of excess fat is bad because it increases your risk of acquiring deadly diseases. With a lot of excess fat you can get heart and blood vessel disease, gallbladder problems, cancer, dementia and numerous other health conditions.
The best ways to fight excess fat are diet and exercise. However, even though you follow a strict diet regimen and even if you exercise regularly, you may still get resistant fat. There are two types of fat: brown fat and white fat. White fat is the type of active fat that regulates hormones and gives off energy. Brown fat is the resistant type of fat that is not very active and is usually the one located in the abdomen, neck, back and chest. Diet and exercise cannot simply burn resistant fat that can give rise to an unshapely figure.
This is when liposuction comes in. Liposuction is a type of surgical procedure that helps remove resistant and stubborn fat to improve body contours. Liposuction is not a type of surgery which can lead to weight loss; neither can it remove cellulite. Liposuction merely removes excess fat in certain areas of the body. In this procedure, fat is being removed through a hollow metal tube or a cannula which is aimed towards the fatty portion of the body. This procedure varies with the technique in fat removal, the more common techniques utilizing vacuum, laser and ultrasound.
After the procedure, the patient can usually go back to his or her usual daily activities in a few days. However, in a few instances, liposuction may have some long term side effects, especially if the technique is not done carefully. This could be due to faulty technique or inexperience in the part of the operator. Or it may be that the procedure has removed large volumes of fat in one session or that there is trauma present in the surrounding tissues.
So what are these long term effects? They are described below:
There may be swelling within a few days after liposuction. In some cases, swelling persists for a long time. During the first 5 to 10 days after liposuction, swelling may be due to an inflammatory reaction resulting from trauma to the tissues due to surgery. If you have undergone liposuction and you have swelling for more than 10 days, you should notify the surgeon. Swelling may be present from 6 weeks to 1 year after liposuction before it completely subsides. It is said that up to 80% of swelling will be gone after 6 weeks post-liposuction.
Liposuction may take a long time to subside because this procedure may affect the drainage of the lymphatic tissues. The lymphatic vessels are the vessels that extract fluid from the affected tissues during liposuction. Since the lymphatic vessels cannot efficiently carry fluid in this case, fluid builds up and swelling results.
Swelling typically occurs in the legs and in some cases, it may be present in the mons pubis (the area above the pubic area of women) and in the genitals in women.
Another cause of swelling after liposuction is the presence of excess fluids, as that brought about by the wetting solution used in tumescent liposuction. Or, swelling may be caused by the formation of a seroma, a collection of fluid or serum. Seromas are common in ultrasound liposuction.
Bleeding and Bruising
Bleeding may occur after liposuction because of possible injury to blood vessels on the treatment area. Large-volume bleeding may require emergency treatment such as blood transfusion or draining of accumulated blood on the treatment area. The risk of bleeding is increased when a person takes in anti-clotting medications such as aspirin or warfarin within 14 days or two weeks before liposuction.
There may also be bruising which may be mild. Bruising may typically be present within days to weeks after liposuction. Methods that aim to minimize bruising include the power liposuction technique and the act of leaving entry sites where cannulas are inserted open to drain.
Infection resulting from liposuction is very rare, due to the fact that the ruptured fat cells left behind after tumescent liposuction create inflammation that prevent infections. Additionally, tumescent fluid used in liposuction often has antibacterial properties. Should infection actually happen due to unsterile techniques, antibiotics can be given. In some cases, additional surgery may be needed to remove the cause of the infection.
Change in Nerve Function
There may be numbness in the treated area after liposuction and this may be due to nerve damage or changes in nerve function. Numbness is often common with ultrasound liposuction.
The change in nerve function after liposuction is due to the fact that the outer sheath of nerve cells made of myelin may get stripped out causing damage to sensory nerves. It is said that about 6% of patients experience nerve problems after liposuction. These nerve problems range from pins-and-needles sensations to pain and numbness. In facial or jaw liposuction, there may be damage to the nerve that supplies the lower facial muscles.
Nerve function may return without treatment for quite some time after liposuction.
There may be unevenness in about 3% of patients that undergo liposuction. This unevenness causes asymmetry and surface irregularity.
Liposuction may create skin necrosis and fat fibrosis in about 4% of patients. Skin necrosis creates skin texture changes and may be due to cell damage from ultrasonic energy during ultrasound liposuction. In addition, there may be brownish discoloration of the skin due to the leakage of hemosiderin, a product of red cell breakdown present in cells. This is one long-term effect of liposuction that do not easily go away on its own.
It is said that liposuction may increase free radical formation that may cause cell damage. There are still no studies linking liposuction to cancer.