Tumescent liposuction under local anesthesia

Why Tumescent Liposuction?

Liposuction for unwanted fat was introduced to the U.S.A. in 1981 and is targeted for specific diet resistant areas. It is the most popular procedure performed by plastic surgeons today. The procedure was never designed for weight loss and only those with good eating habits and regular exercise are considered the best candidates for liposuction.

Originally, the only method available was liposuction which essentially involves “vacuuming” the fat from the unwanted areas using a cannula, a specially designed long tube with hole(s) at each end.  This procedure is still the most effective way to remove fat. However, most physicians still use general anesthesia for liposuction.

Other methods have evolved in the past few years to remove the fat without anesthesia, including lipodissolve, heating and now freezing the fat.  These procedures are only designed for smaller areas of fat and require multiple treatments, and most often the results can be less than hoped for.

Tumescent liposuction, although available for many years, has now evolved by some physicians into the ability to remove large volumes of fat under local anesthesia.  Using a specially calculated solution for localized numbing that lasts up to 8 hours and very small cannulas, the patients are awake during the procedures and feel minimal to no discomfort. Often times, they sleep through the procedure.  Up to 4 liters of fat can safely be removed during one procedure.  The patients have minimal swelling and bruising postoperatively. 

It is now my preferred way of performing liposuction.  Although general anesthesia can still be used, the patients now have an additional option available.

E. Ronald Finger, MD, FACS