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How Has Liposuction Changed Over Time?

history of liposuction

Today’s liposuction is considerably different from liposuction of the past, and that’s a good thing! If you are considering the surgery to get rid of unwanted fat from your abdomen, hips, or another area, learn more about the history of liposuction to see how it has changed and improved over time.

Who Invented Liposuction?

Liposuction isn’t that old of a procedure. Although there are reports of French doctors using suction to remove unwanted fat from people’s legs way back in the 1920’s, the modern version of the procedure wasn’t developed until 1974. A Dr. Giorgio Fischer, a gynecologist in Italy, gets the credit for creating the  narrow tubes, or cannulas, that today’s doctors use to remove the excess fat a patient doesn’t want.

The Evolution and History of Liposuction

Before Dr. Fischer’s invention, doctors did try to remove unwanted fat from the body. But they often used methods that harmed more than they helped. For example, some surgeons tried to surgically remove fat, along with skin. That method caused a considerable amount of scarring. It also didn’t permanently eliminate the fat.

Another early method of fat removal saw surgeons trying to scrape the fat away using a curette. That method had a number of complications, including unevenness in the skin, blood clots, and abscesses.

By the late 1970’s, two doctors in France,  Yves-Gerard Illouz and Pierre Fournier, had taken steps to improve upon Dr. Fischer’s creation. The pair introduced what’s known as the wet technique. With the wet technique, a saline solution is injected into the fat before the procedure begins. The saltwater solution helps to minimize bleeding during the surgery and makes it easier for the surgeon to suction out the fat. Dr. Fournier also introduced the technique of injecting lidocaine, a type of anesthetic, into the treated area.

Dr. Fournier also improved upon Dr. Fischer’s incision technique. Instead of creating just one or two incisions, Dr. Fournier developed a method that featured small, criss-crossed incisions. His technique allows surgeons to better shape the area they are working on. You also have Dr. Fournier to thank for the use of compression garments after liposuction to help improve and speed the healing process.

Tumescent Liposuction

Thanks to the work of Drs. Fischer, Fournier and Illouz, liposuction increased in popularity throughout the 1980’s. But at that time, the surgery still wasn’t perfect and many patients experienced unpleasant side effects or complications, including rippling of the skin in the areas where the fat was removed.

By the middle of the 1980’s, a dermatologist in the U.S., Dr. Jeffrey Klein, developed what is now known as tumescent liposuction. With the new technique, patients seeking liposuction no  longer needed to receive general anesthesia. Instead, a surgeon injects a mixture that contains epinephrine and lidocaine into the area being treated. The epinephrine helped to shrink the size of blood vessels while the lidocaine numbed the area. The tumescent technique not only eliminates the need for general anesthesia. it also allows surgeons to use smaller cannulas and reduces the risk of bleeding, rippling or unevenness in the skin.

More Recent Fat Removal Techniques

Liposuction and fat removal options have continued to evolve and changed over time. A few newer techniques use either the energy from lasers or the energy from ultrasound to help loosen or break up the fat, making it easier for a surgeon to remove.

Some modern methods of fat removal don’t require surgery or suction at all. One such option is Coolsculpting, which gets rid of unwanted fat by freezing it away. After a few months, the body fully flushes out the extra fat, leaving a person with up to a 25 percent reduction of fat in the treated area.

Over the last few decades, liposuction and fat removal techniques have come a long way. At his practice in Houston, Texas, board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Vitenas performs liposuction using the super wet or tumescent technique. He also offers Coolsculpting at his medical spa, Mirror Mirror Beauty Boutique. To learn more about liposuction and to see if it or  Coolsculpting is the right option for you, call 281-484-0088 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vitenas today.