A brief history of liposuction

A brief history of liposuction

27th Mar 2017

Liposuction is a perfect example to illustrate the evolution of plastic surgery over the years. Today, liposuction is considered one of the safest cosmetic surgery procedures and it is probably the most among the most popular worldwide. However, this procedure took years to perfect and it wasn’t always as minimally invasive and safe as it is today.

How it all started

In the 1920s, a French surgeon named Charles Dujarier conducted a surgery on a dancer. He aimed to reduce the layer of fat on the knees and calves through direct cuts in the tissue. The result was disastrous. He injured a major artery, which forced him to amputate the dancer’s leg. Since then, the concept was abandoned and no one dared to attempt an operation for fat removal for several decades.

It wasn’t until the early 60s when a German doctor named Joseph Schrudde attempted to remove excess fat. While the surgery was unsuccessful, it paved the way for other doctors, such as the Italian gynecologist Giorgio Fisher, to begin experimenting with the suction principle in 1974. Complications (hematoma, seroma, etc.) 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. This significantly reduced 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 groundbreaking 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 will be substantially reduced. This technique was presented at a medical conference in Philadelphia in 1986 and it was published in the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery in 1987. It is now utilized all over the world.

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

Despite liposuction’s availability and popularity today, this operation must be done by a qualified surgeon with plenty of experience. The procedure should also be conducted in a medical facility with all the necessary equipment, while 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 balance and proportion of the patient’s features by contouring the body. Liposuction is not meant 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 form.

Best results on localized fat deposits

The best results after liposuction are visible after treating specific areas with localized fat deposits. These fat deposits are usually resistant to any type of diet or exercise plan. The abdomen, thighs, arms, knees, calves and love handles are among the most commonly affected areas by these adipose pockets. Liposuction is the optimal procedure for these areas as long as there is no sagging skin or other aesthetic imperfections which need correcting. It is recommended for the patients to be as close to their ideal weight as possible if they wish to maximize the results of the procedure.

Skin elasticity is essential

Liposuction is ideal for individuals with good skin quality. For optimal results, the plastic surgeon will ensure that the patient’s skin has good elasticity so it will be able to retract properly to adjust to the new contours of the body. Surface irregularities can also be prevented when the patient has good skin quality.


The number of fat cells will be completed once the individual has reached puberty. The adipose cells cannot multiply during adult life, but they can increase in volume due to weight gain.

In case of weight gain after liposuction, the weight will be distributed throughout the body, predominantly in the areas untouched by liposuction. When the patient loses weight again, the contours of the liposuction might be visible again. Furthermore, 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 worldwide, it is not a weight loss method and cannot be done repeatedly.

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