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Tumescent literally means "firm and swollen".
This refers to the surgical innovation that occurred a few decades back that uses locally injected anesthesia to help with pain and decreases blood loss during liposuction.
Since then tumescent liposuction has become the gold standard for liposuction surgery.
Almost every technological advance in liposuction surgery builds on this fundamental. So, it is appropriate to discuss just what is the tumescent technique, and how is it used to help patients like you who are considering liposuction surgery.
In order to understand what a breakthrough tumescent liposuction represented when it first arrived on the scene you have to know what came before.
The earliest record of a fat removal surgery that I could find was performed on February 17, 1926. A French doctor named Charles Dujarier who was a fully qualified surgeon of his time, operated on a young model, Mademoiselle Geoffre, who wished to improve the looks of her legs.
Because of factors not fully understood by the profession at the time, the operation was an unmitigated disaster. After surgery Miss Geoffre's legs become completely gangrenous and at the prime of her life this attractive young woman had both legs amputated.
Miss Geoffre's sad plight both horrified and scared the people of France, and plastic surgery was nearly outlawed in the country. Dr. Dujarier was sued and consequently required to pay 200,000 francs (a fortune at the time).
It was because of this case that informed consent became the standard.
Attempts to improve surgical fat removal occurred sporadically as the century proceeded, so that by the late 1970's French and Italian surgeons were the world's leading experts using an early liposuction technique. However, liposuction during this period was always performed under general anesthesia and was without the introduction of fluids.
It was called "dry liposuction".
Later small amounts of fluid were introduced into the fat (the "wet" technique) but still the surgery generally was one with significant blood loss, pain and discomfort, and often required blood transfusions to rehabilitate the patient after surgery...
Not ideal by any stretch of the imagination...
Then along came a young, upstart dermatologist from southern California, Dr. Jeffrey A. Klein who revolutionized liposuction in 1985 with the tumescent technique.
Dr. Klein used large volumes of fluid containing low concentrations of lignocaine and epinephrine, mixed with large volumes of saline injected into the treatment area. This fluid cocktail (now called Klein's Solution after its inventor) was a local anesthetic that had the effect of minimizing blood loss and speedy recovery after liposuction.
Klein's Solution is now used pervasively in liposuction surgeries around the world. And it has turned what used to be an invasive major surgery into a procedure that can be performed safely in the doctor's office.
During surgery small incisions are made throughout the treatment area. Klein's Solution is injected into the area until it is very firm to the touch and full with fluid. Once the fat is softened and the area is anesthetized, the surgeon takes a long, hollow tube called a "cannula", and inserts it into the incisions made earlier.
The surgeon with push and pull the cannula, suctioning fat and fluid back out of the treatment zone until the desired body contour is created.
It is a really simple concept, but it took decades of innovation to develop tumescent liposuction into the reliable surgery that it is today.
Despite the fact that liposuction is a pretty trustworthy surgery it is still surgery and will have some risks associated with it.
There are other potentially negative consequences to liposuction surgery that I have not mentioned here. It is really important to take your time and select a surgeon with proper credentials, that has tons of experience with the tumescent liposuction.
Tumescent liposuction is truly the gold standard for liposuction surgery.
Historically it has come from rather dubious beginnings. But it has grown into reliable and popular plastic surgery performed all over the world.
However, despite its popularity it is not without risks. Understanding those risks and weighing them against the potential benefit is really your job before laying down on anyone's operating table. No one can promise you that you will not experience an adverse reaction to liposuction surgery. So, the goal is to put yourself in the best qualified surgical hands that you possibly can.
Your health absolutely depends on it.
Venkataram Jayashree. "Tumescent liposuction: A Review. (CME)(Clinical report)." Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery. 1.2 (July-Dec 2008): 49. Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale.
Murray, Louann W. "Liposuction." The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. 3rd ed. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 2006. 2228-2231. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web 29 Mar. 2010.
"Tumescent liposuction: Standard guidelines of care. (Recommendations)." Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology. 74.7 (Jan 2008): 54. Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale July 2009.
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