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A Short History of Liposuction

Like most plastic surgery procedures, liposuction has been around for years, but it has only grown and become more sophisticated with the introduction of new skills, techniques, and technologies. The first attempt at body fat or surgery was estimated in the early 1920s and ended with catastrophic gangrene attacking patients. It took almost fifty years for the procedure to begin to recover. In Europe, primitive cutting and tissue scraping methods were first used in an effort to eliminate excess fat in patients, resulting in dangerous amounts of blood and less than attractive results. Experienced surgeons eventually canceled the procedure because it was too risky for further study.

Not until the 1980s was a procedure revisited by a French surgeon who was the father of the suction technique that is still popular today. He was the first to produce an innovative tool called a kanula, which was an empty tube attached to a vacuum device. The tubes are inserted into the body and move back and forth, collecting excess fat cells and removing them from the area. By the mid-80s, liposuction sparked the interest of cosmetic surgeons in the United States where further modifications and trials have been attempted for years.

1985 saw one of the greatest achievements in liposuction technology. An American surgeon invented mouth techniques. Instead of simply inserting the cannula into the body, fluids, most of which exaggerate some of the anesthetic to numb the area, are injected first to reduce fat removal. The result of this new technique is less blood loss, better results, and much less risk than the previous "dry" version. Today it is still one of the more commonly used methods. However, "super wet" techniques, which use higher liquid volumes, are considered higher by many.

A decade later in the 90s, further advances in this procedure made better decisions and reduced risk. The ultrasound assist method is gaining popularity and involves using ultrasound to dilute the fat first so that there is less tissue damage when it is used to remove it from the body. There is still a tendency for this method, as there are others available today. Power-assisted liposuction is also popular and uses vibrating cannulas to reduce fat removal. Laser liposuction and other techniques are still new and are being explored further by surgeons.

Over the years, this procedure has become more secure and successful in contouring and developing the body. It will not and has never been a method of weight loss. In fact, most surgeons will refuse to operate unless the patient has reasonable expectations and maintains a healthy weight for their body type. For more information on different techniques and technologies, consult a board-certified plastic surgeon and discuss your options. There are benefits and risks to each new method and ideas are being explored periodically.


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