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A Short History of Liposuction

Liposuction has been around for nearly a century, undergoing many transformations along the way. This article traces the history of liposuction.

Like most plastic surgery procedures, liposuction has been around for many years, but simply has evolved and become increasingly sophisticated with the introduction of new skills, techniques, and technology. The first ever attempt at a body sculpting or fat removal surgery was estimated to be in the early 1920’s and ended quite disastrously with the patient contracting gangrene. It took nearly fifty years for the procedure to start to catch on again. In Europe, primitive cutting and tissue scraping methods were first used in an attempt to remove excess fat in patients, resulting in dangerous amounts of blood loss and less than appealing outcomes. The surgeons who attempted it eventually abandoned the procedure as it was far too risky to merit further research. 

Not until the 1980’s was the procedure revisited by a French surgeon who was the father of the suction technique that is still popular to this day. He was the first to come up with the innovative tool called the cannula, which is a hollow tube attached to a vacuum device. The tube is inserted into an incision in the body and moved back and forth, gathering up excess fat cells and removing them from the area. By the mid 80’s, liposuction sparked the interest of cosmetic surgeons in the United States where further modifications and experimentations were tried over the years. 

1985 saw one of the greatest milestones in liposuction technology. An American surgeon created the tumescent technique. Rather than simply inserting the cannula into the body, fluid, mostly saline with some anesthetic to numb the area, was injected first to ease fat removal. The results of this new technique were less blood loss, better results, and overall far fewer risks than the previous “dry” version. Today this is still one of the more common methods used. However, the “super wet” technique, which uses a higher volume of liquid, is considered superior by many. 

A decade later in the 90’s, further advancements in this procedure made results even better and risks lessened. The ultrasound assisted method gained popularity and involves using ultrasound to melt the fat first so there is less tissue damage when the cannula is used to remove it from the body. There are still downsides to this method, as there is with all others currently available. Power assisted liposuction is also becoming popular and uses a vibrating cannula to ease fat removal. Laser liposuction and other techniques are still new and being further explored by surgeons.

Throughout the years, this procedure has become increasingly safe and successful in contouring and sculpting the body. It will not and has not ever been a weight loss method. 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 about the different techniques and technology availableFree Reprint Articles, consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon and discuss your options. There are benefits and risks to each method and new ideas are being explored regularly.

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For those whose interest has been piqued in liposuction, New York City residents can be assured that there are proper services available in their area. To find a qualified surgical team to perform this operation or to learn more about what is offered today, please visit:

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