Sometimes despite our best attempts at weight loss and exercise, we are left with local accumulations of fat that stubbornly interfere with the way we would like to look and the clothing we would like to wear. In women, these problem areas are most commonly the lower abdomen, the outside and inside of the thighs, and the inside of the knees. In men, the abdomen and flanks or "love handles" are most commonly affected.
Until the early 1980s, correction of these problems required extensive operations. About that time there were reports of a new technique, originating in Paris, that removed fat by suction. Since then the procedure has become the single most popular cosmetic surgery operation in North America.
Except for the neck and similarly small areas, it is usually best to do fat suction under general anesthesia. A small half-inch incision is made at the edge of the area to be reduced and a long, thin cannula (much like a steel soda-straw) is pushed in and out of the fat as suction is applied. The operation rarely lasts over one hour.
Because fat cells are actually removed, the disproportionate fat deposit doesn't grow back again. This is also why there may be minor unevenness in the final contour of the skin depending upon your age and the elasticity of the skin.
Fat suction is not designed for general weight reduction, and the removal of fat is limited to the layer right between the skin and the muscles. Men in particular often have their abdominal fat beneath the muscle layer and may experience a less dramatic improvement than women.
Most of the potential problems that were anticipated a few years ago have failed to materialize. Of all the cosmetic surgical operations that we do, this is the simplest procedure with the fewest complications and the highest percentage of satisfied patients.