What are the consequences?
You can expect considerable bruising which will be uncomfortable and at times painful. The larger the area treated the greater it will be. Some people bruise more easily than others. The discolouration of this bruising will usually last for about a month, but the lumpiness and swelling of deep bruising can take up to six months to disappear, particularly when the abdomen or ankles have been treated. As swelling can take a long time to settle you may not see the full benefit of the operation for up to six months. Rarely, a greyish stripe can discolour the skin for several months and is more commonly seen when the ankles have been treated. If you have a tendency to be anaemic or if you were to have a large area treated, you may need to take iron tablets for a month. You can expect some numbness in the treated skin which lasts for several months.
You will have small scars 1.0 to 2.0 centimetres long at the site of insertion of the suction cannulae. There is a small risk in some people that these scars may stay red for a while, but they are usually sited in less obvious areas.
If you are having treatment to your legs you may find that your ankles are swollen for a few weeks and if your ankles themselves have been treated they may stay swollen for a few months.
What Are The Limitations?
It is important for you to understand that liposuction is not a treatment for obesity. The amount of fat that can be removed from a localised area is limited by what is safe (maximum of 3 litres) and a natural limitation when no further fat can be removed. Therefore it may not be possible to slim down an area as much as you might like. Further treatments may be carried out in the same area after six months.
In certain situations the skin is inelastic and loose. Liposuction in these areas will then tend to leave the skin more loose and it may be recommended that a skin excision be carried out to correct this, either at the same time as the liposuction, or as a second procedure. This is most likely in the abdomen after pregnancy or weight loss, the buttocks or the neck. Dimples and wrinkles of the skin, sometimes called cellulite will not be improved by liposuction.
What Are The Risks?
Any major operation with a general anaesthetic carries a small risk of chest infection particularly among people who smoke and there is also a risk of thrombosis in the veins of the leg, particularly for patients who are taking the contraceptive pill.
Occasionally, heavy bleeding can occur after the operation is finished which may need a further operation and a blood transfusion. Occasionally, infection from germs harbouring in the ducts of the breast can be troublesome. Infection can be treated with antibiotics bit it will delay the healing process, scars are likely to be worse to start with and there may be a need to re-stitch them at a later date. If you have a discharge from your nipple it is most important to tell your surgeon about it before your operation.
Occasionally, skin can become sloughy and for a scab which gradually separates to leave a broad scar. The nipple disc and the skin where the scar meets underneath the breast are parts most likely to be affected. People who smoke are at greater risk of this happening. Usually the scars settle well to end up as white lines but they will always be noticeable. However, some people have an inborn tendency for scars to stretch and sometimes they can stay thick, red and irritable for a long time.
When reducing large breasts it may occasionally be necessary to adjust the folds of skin at the end of the scar, both between the breasts and at the sides. This can simply be carried out under local anaesthetic several months later.
There is no evidence to suggest that reduction mammaplasty causes breast cancer. Nor does it prevent your breast from being examined for cancer in the usual way.