Liposuction Scar Management
When a person chooses to undergo liposuction to improve their appearance, they obviously want to be able to enjoy their new shape without having unattractive scars. While the incision site for liposuction is smaller than that left behind by many other procedures, early treatment is key to liposuction scar management. The most common scarring problem with liposuction is dyschromia (discoloring), which can manifest as hyperpigmentation (darker scarring) or hypopigmentation (lighter-colored scarring).
Moreover, the removal of adipose (fat) tissue itself during the procedure can result in problem lipo scarring, since it removes the source of lipids, cytockines, and other healing substrates. The best scar-healing results are produced with:
- Silicone Sheeting and Hyper-Heal Cream one week post-op
- A .2mm derma roller and Hyper-Heal Cream daily for already-established discolored scars
You May Be a Candidate for Liposuction
As people age, they tend to accumulate isolated pockets of significant fatty tissue (adipose) buildup in various parts of the body, producing a flabby, bulgy appearance. For many, the loss of a trim, youthful, contoured body shape is unappealing enough that they decide to do something about it. Unfortunately, too often diet and exercise alone have little or no effect on improving their appearance. For that reason, they may opt for an alternative cosmetic surgery solution that has proven to be relatively safe and effective: Liposuction.
Simply being overweight is not an ideal indicator for this procedure; nor should liposuction be characterized as a shortcut to losing weight or a speedy alternative to a healthy weight-loss regimen. In other words, it is not intended to “cure” obesity per se, but rather to remove stubborn, unsightly fat deposits from certain areas of the body. If you are in general good health, eat right, are physically active, and have good skin elasticity in the target area, you will benefit the most from this procedure.
The prefix “lipo” is derived from the Greek word lipos, meaning “fat.” Thus, as the name implies, the surgeon literally suctions the fat cells out of the treatment area. This area is first marked out directly on the skin. Then, while the patient is put under general or local anesthesia, the surgeon inserts a thin, hollow tube (called a “cannula”) through one or more small incisions at the fat removal site and applies negative pressure to suck the fat cells out from underneath skin.
Patient’s skin being prepped and marked for a combination liposuction and abdominoplasty procedure
Liposuction (or lipoplasty, as it is also called) can be performed wherever large fat deposits have formed, including the abdomen, hips, back, neck, arms, thighs, and legs. Lipoplasty is the most commonly performed cosmetic surgery in the United States.
Effectiveness of Liposuction
As indicated above, liposuction is not a weight-loss procedure. Maintaining a healthy diet and continuing to exercise regularly are key to keeping the fat deposits from returning. If you are a woman and plan on becoming pregnant, you are advised to postpone the procedure until after you have given birth, and the abdominal area has returned to a more normal shape.
Side Effects of Liposuction
As with any surgery, you can expect to undergo a “recovery period” following the procedure. With liposuction, the length of that period depends on the procedure area and the volume of fat removed. Typically, patients may need up to a week of at-home rest to recover, and should refrain from exercising for two weeks to a month. To alleviate any discomfort during the first few days of recovery, the patient may be prescribed pain medication and be required to wear compression garments.
Besides temporary pain and post-surgical bruising, some of the side effects and complications that patients may experience include:
- Increased sensitivity or numbness in the treatment area
- Post-liposuction weight gain
- Surgical infection
- Embolisms (where loosened fat enters the bloodstream through ruptured blood vessels and ends up in the lungs, heart, or brain)
And, of course, you can expect some scarring as well (since it is a surgical procedure).
Liposuction Scars and How to Treat Them
Since the incisions made for liposuction are small compared to other types of surgical incisions, the resulting scars that form after the healing process will be proportionally small and not very prominent. Over time, they can fade completely on their own and become barely perceptible.
The amount of liposuction scarring depends on a number of factors:
- Individual genetics
- Surgical technique used
- Patients’s skin pigment (scars from larger incisions tend to stand out more on dark-pigmented individuals)
The most common scarring problem resulting from liposuction is dyschromia (discoloring), which can take two forms: hyperpigmentation (darkened scars) and hypopigmentation (lighter, bleached-out scars). More rarely, these types of liposuction scars may develop:
- atrophic (sunken below the skin’s surface, due to the loss of fat or muscle around the incision)
- hypertrophic (slightly raised above the surface, though this may decrease over time)
- keloid (hard, raised, irregular-shaped scars, usually with a smooth top and a pink or purple color)
To speed up the process of liposuction scar healing, we recommend a combination of Silicone Sheeting and Hyper-Heal Cream, applied about one week post-op. For discolored scars that have already been established, your best bet is to use a .2mm derma roller with daily application of Hyper-Heal Cream.
This liposuction animation video will provide more information on the procedure to help you decide if it’s right for you.
FAQ's About Liposuction Scars
Will liposuction surgery leave a scar?
Liposuction surgery does require several small incisions which will likely leave small scars. Doctors usually take care to make these incisions in discreet locations so they are not as visible.
How big will my liposuction scar be?
Fortunately lipo scars are typically very small. The average liposuction scar is about 5 to 6 millimeter and are round. The largest scars could be upwards of 10 millimeters.
Will Liposuction leave a permanent scar?
Liposuction surgery will likely leave some pertinent scars, however they are typically small and in discreet locations. Using a scar management regiment will help reduce the appearance of the scar to a point where it is minimally visible.
How long should I wait after liposuction surgery to begin treating my scars?
You can begin treating your lipo scars as soon as you're sutures are removed which is typically 10 – 14 days. Using silicone sheets can help speed up the scar maturation process especially on darker skin (African, Mediterranean, Hispanic).