Most people are familiar with the use of liposuction to remove fat from the abdomen and thighs. This technique can be used to remove significant quantities of unwanted fatty tissue and reshape the contours of the body. The metal tube used to break up and suction out fat cells is called a cannula. With a large cannula, more fat can be removed in a shorter period of time. However, sometimes the goal is actually to remove very small pockets of fat – such as those around the chin and neck. Liposuction techniques now include a “microcannular” option for sculpting these more delicate areas. As the name suggests, a tiny cannula is used to perform this procedure. This gives the dermatologist or plastic surgeon a greater level of control for a more precise outcome.
Who Is a Good Candidate for This Procedure?
Microcannular liposuction of the face and neck is designed for patients who are within 30% of their ideal body weight and who have good skin elasticity. It isn’t a substitute for a face or neck lift that involves excising drooping skin or pulling it taut. Basically, the skin needs to be healthy and “youthful” enough to tighten up on its own after the fat is suctioned out. If the skin is too loose, a lift may need to be performed along with liposuction. For patients who are under the age of 45 and for those with only a small amount of fat being removed, lipo alone is often sufficient to achieve the desired results.
This type of liposuction is done on an outpatient basis using only local anesthesia introduced under the skin. The liquid anesthetic mixture contains epinephrine and Lidocaine. This formula causes the tissue to swell up making it easier for the cannula to target fat cells and leave surrounding tissue unharmed. The solution also reduces bleeding and numbs the area.
Several tiny incisions are made in the skin so the microcannula can be introduced. The cannula is moved gently back and forth under the skin to break up and aspirate (suck out) fat. Most of the anesthetic liquid is drained from the area at the end of the procedure; but a little bit is left in the tissue to continue providing pain relief. Compression bandages are used for several days to keep swelling to a minimum.
This procedure generally has a quick recovery period because chin and neck liposuction doesn’t involve making long incisions or removing large quantities of fat. Patients can expect to experience some swelling, bruising, and other moderate side effects that can be managed with proper post-operative care.