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A brief history of liposuction

A brief history of liposuction

A brief history of liposuction

Liposuction is a perfect example to illustrate the evolution of plastic surgery over the years. Now, liposuction is considered one of the safest cosmetic surgery procedures and probably the most commonly performed in the world. However, this procedure took years to perfect and was not always as minimally invasive and safe as it is today.

How it all started

In the 1920s, a French surgeon named Charles Dujarier performed a surgery on a dancer. He aimed to reduce the fat layer on the knees and calves by using direct cuts in the tissue. The result was disastrous as he injured a major artery and caused the dancer to end up with an amputated leg. The concept was hence abandoned and no one dared to attempt an operation of removing fat for several decades.

It wasn’t until the early 60s when a German doctor named Joseph Schrudde once again attempted to remove excess fat. While the surgery was not successful, it paved the way for other doctors such as Italian gynecologist Giorgio Fisher to begin experimenting with the suction principle in 1974. During this time, complications such as hematoma and seroma still made the operation very much unreliable.

In 1978, French doctor Yves Gerard Illouz and Pierre Fournier finally developed a revolutionary liposuction technique. The operation was performed with fine tubes called cannulas and had rounded ends that spared vessels, significantly reducing bleeding after surgery.

However, the true turning point was in 1985, when Jeffrey A. Klein, a dermatologist from California, invented the tumescent liposuction method. This revolutionary technique requires an infiltration of a fluid containing lidocaine (a local anesthetic) and epinephrine or adrenaline (substances that cause a localized vasoconstriction) into the subcutaneous fat tissue that needs to be suctioned. The bleeding after the liposuction is hence substantially reduced. This technique was presented at a medical conference in Philadelphia in 1986 and was published in the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery in 1987. It is now performed all over the world.

Nowadays, liposuction is almost pain-free and has one of the shortest post-operative recovery periods. The outcomes of the procedure are easily sustainable, if the patients follow the surgeon’s recommendations to the letter. Liposuction is certainly the benchmark intervention to radically and permanently remove excess fat localized in certain areas of the body.

Despite liposuction becoming one of the most common cosmetic surgeries available today, this operation must be performed by a qualified surgeon with plenty of experience. The procedure should also be performed in a medical facility that has all the necessary equipment meeting safety standards.

Liposuction and weight loss

Weight loss is not the objective of liposuction, and patients should be well aware of this before scheduling the operation. The procedure aims to restore the harmony of the patient’s features by contouring the body. Liposuction is not an intervention to remedy obesity. While the patient may lose a few pounds depending on the amount of fat removed during surgery, the primary goal of liposuction is to sculpt the body to a better silhouette, not to purely absorb fat alone.

Best results on localized fat deposits

The best results achieved after liposuction are seen when we treat specific areas with localized fat deposits. These fat deposits are usually resistant to any type of diet or exercise plan. Areas such as the abdomen, thighs, arms, knees, calves and love handles are the most commonly affected by these adipose pockets. Liposuction is the optimal intervention to perform on these areas, taking into consideration that there is no sagging skin or other aesthetic imperfections to be corrected. To get excellent results after the procedure, it is recommended for the patients to be as close to their ideal weight as possible.

Skin elasticity is essential

Liposuction is ideal for individuals with good skin condition. For an optimal result, the plastic surgeon will ensure that the skin of the patient has good elasticity so it will be able to retract properly to adjust to the new contours of the body. When the patient has good skin quality, surface irregularities can also be prevented.


Once the individual reached puberty, the number of fat cells is complete. The adipose cells cannot multiply during adult life, but they can increase in volume when weight gain occurs.

In case of weight gain after liposuction, the pounds will settle diffusely on the body, predominantly in the areas that were not treated with liposuction. When the patient loses weight again, the silhouette contours achieved after liposuction might be visible again. Keep in mind that weight fluctuations after the liposuction procedure might alter the results of the intervention.

It is essential for patients to understand that even if liposuction is now one of the safest and most common plastic surgery procedures performed all over the world, it is not a weight loss method and not an intervention to be repeatedly performed.


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