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Tumescent Liposuction


Tumescent liposuction is considered by many cosmetic surgeons and patients to be the safest and most effective form of liposuction surgery. The use of larger amounts of local anesthetic not only reduces pain after surgery, but also reduces bleeding, swelling, and skin irregularities and makes the entire procedure run more smoothly.

The Tumescent Liposuction Procedure

Tumescent liposuction has gained a tremendous amount of popularity in recent years, primarily because it has eliminated some of the unpleasant side effects previously associated with liposuction, resulting in a shorter recovery period. The procedure itself is similar to traditional liposuction in method and cost, but with a few differences.

Anesthetic Injections

In the first step of tumescent liposuction, a large dose of liquid (composed primarily of lidocaine, a local anesthetic, and epinephrine, which helps to shrink blood vessels) is injected into the part of the body being treated. The added fluid forces the compartments of fat to swell and firm up, which lets the doctor extract the unwanted fat more smoothly and with minimal bleeding.

Tumescent Liposuction Benefits

Tumescent liposuction can significantly reduce some of the unpleasant side effects of other techniques. Because the anesthetic solution temporarily reduces the size of the capillaries, it can significantly reduce blood loss during surgery and the pain, bruising, and swelling that occurs afterward. And because tumescent liposuction provides local anesthesia, patients can avoid the side effects of general anesthesia, such as vomiting and nausea.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view liposuction before and after photos.

Photo credit: Atlantic Plastic Surgery Center

Tumescent Liposuction Risks

As with any form of liposuction, complications can occur during tumescent liposuction. Two risks that are unique to tumescent liposuction are lidocaine toxicity and fluid accumulation. Lidocaine toxicity occurs when the amount of lidocaine in the tumescent solution is too high, making it difficult for the body to adequately metabolize the drug. When too much solution is injected into the treatment area, it is possible for fluid to accumulate in the lungs.

Variations on the Tumescent Liposuction Procedure

Tumescent liposuction and the “wet” and “super-wet” techniques are now used by surgeons in place of the dry technique, which fell from favor due to the excessive blood loss that resulted, as well as the fact that the procedure required hospitalization. The super-wet technique is currently used more often than the wet technique, and tumescent liposuction continues to be a popular choice. Whether you chose wet, super-wet, or tumescent liposuction will depend on a number of factors, including how many areas you wish to have treated.

Wet Technique

Wet liposuction simply refers to the use of fluid injection prior to liposuction treatment. To prepare for wet liposuction, the surgeon administers approximately 100 milliliters of local anesthesia containing epinephrine directly into the tissue. This results in less blood loss during the procedure and reduces patient discomfort after surgery.

Super Wet Technique

The super wet technique is similar to tumescent liposuction, except that it uses a solution containing less of the anesthetics lidocaine and epinephrine. In their place, intravenous sedation or general anesthetic is used (because the area being treated does not become fully anesthetized by the solution alone). Not using an injected local anesthetic means that the doctor does not have to wait for any swelling to go down. The surgery usually takes no longer than two hours, and the patient can opt to have other procedures performed while the general anesthetic is in effect.

Find a Tumescent Liposuction Surgeon near You

Although tumescent liposuction has made fat removal easier and less painful than ever before, it must be performed by a qualified surgeon to avoid complications and achieve maximum results. Consult our directory of cosmetic surgeons to find a doctor you can trust.

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