Liposuction is a surgical procedure intended to remove fat deposits and shape the body. Fat is removed from under the skin with the use of a vacuum-suction canula (a hollow pen-like instrument) or using an ultrasonic probe that emulfsies (breaks up into small pieces) the fat and then removes it with suction.
Persons with localized fat may decide to have liposuction to remove fat from that area. Liposuction is a procedure for shaping the body and is not recommended for weight loss.
Liposuction may be performed on the abdomen, hips, thighs, calves, arms, buttocks, back, neck, or face. A liposuction procedure may include more than one site, for instance, the abdomen, back, and thighs all on the same day.
Liposuction is also used to reduce breast size in men with large breasts (gynecomastia) or to remove fat tumors (lipomas) but it is most commonly used for cosmetic body shaping.
Many liposuction surgeries are performed by plastic surgeons or by dermatologists. Any licensed physician may perform liposuction. While some physicians' professional societies may recommend training before performing liposuction surgery, no standardized training is required. As a result, there will be differences in experience and training in physicians performing liposuction. You can ask your physician to tell you whether he or she has had specialized training to do liposuction and whether they have successfully done liposuction before. But remember, even the best screened patients under the care of the best trained and experienced physicians may experience complications as a result of liposuction.
Liposuction may be performed in a
Because liposuction is a surgical procedure, it is important that it be performed in a clean environment. Emergencies may arise during any surgery and access to emergency medical equipment and/or a nearby hospital emergency room is important. These are things that you should ask your physician before the liposuction.
The FDA cannot recommend physicians to you. However, there are some things that you may consider:
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the sale of medical devices, such as the equipment (canulas, pumps, collecting containers, ultrasound probes, etc) and drugs (anesthesia) used for liposuction.
Before a medical device can be legally sold in the U.S., the person or company that wants to sell the device must seek approval from the FDA. To gain approval, they must present evidence that the device is reasonably safe and effective for a particular use, the "indication." Once a device is approved, other similar devices may be cleared by the FDA for use. This requires less information since an equivalent device has already been shown to be safe and effective. In some cases, devices that were on the market before FDA started regulating medical devices may be cleared. Once the FDA has approved or cleared a medical device, a doctor may decide to use that device for other indications if the doctor feels it is in the best interest of a patient. The use of an approved or cleared device for other than its FDA-approved indication is called "off-label use."
The FDA does not have the authority to:
Updated September 10, 2002
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