Liposuction is a method of removing excess fat from the body. Many people don’t realize that it’s actually a surgical procedure. It can be done in a hospital under general anesthesia or at a plastic surgeon’s office under a local anesthetic as an outpatient procedure. Each person’s needs are different, depending on the location and extent of the procedure. An incision is made in the skin, and a hollow cannula is inserted to remove body fat and fluids. As with any surgical incision, your skin is likely to scar after healing. Liposuction scars are typically small, but individual results vary.
Hyper-Pigmentation and Hypo-Pigmentation
People with darker skin types and more naturally-occurring melanin in the skin are more prone to darker scars, or hyper-pigmentation. Excess friction from the cannula’s movement during the liposuction process can cause the remaining fatty tissue beneath the incision area to become fibrous and interwoven with scar tissue under the skin as it heals. Repeated liposuction procedures in the same area are also known to create friction-based scar tissue. Friction injuries affect the formation of pigmentation cells, making scars hypo-pigmented, or substantially lighter than the rest of your skin.
There are several ways to minimize your scarring after liposuction. For example, shorter incisions will create smaller scars. The size of the cannula required and the location on the body may call for a larger incision, resulting in a longer scar. When possible, they are placed in areas typically covered by clothing to prevent visibility. Different types of skin tones and hereditary traits can also affect how the scars appear.
Following your doctor’s instructions after surgery will also help to minimize scarring. For example, the wound will continue to drain for several days. It is important to change the dressings regularly as directed to minimize the chances of infection. According to the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA), your liposuction doctor may prescribe antibiotics before or after your surgery to minimize infection. If drainage is heavy or continues longer than expected, your plastic surgeon may place a draining tube, which can increase the amount of scar tissue.
Compression garments are usually recommended to keep the skin closed and prevent stretching of the incision or surrounding area due to swelling. It also helps to reduce certain types of activity for a time to prevent the incision from re-opening.
Another way to minimize liposuction scars is to apply silicone-based scar medicine to these areas after the wounds have healed. Silicone can help to minimize hyper-pigmentation, hypo-pigmentation and regular liposuction scars.