The History of Liposuction

Liposuction modelLiposuction was invented in 1974 by two Italian-American surgeons – Doctors Giorgio and Arpad Fischer. The roots of liposuction date back to the 1920s. In the late 1960s Leon Forrester Tcheupdjian, a European surgeon used primitive curettage techniques to remove fat – however, results were patchy, there was a lot of bleeding and morbidity was high.

What we know as ‘modern liposuction’ started with a presentation in 1982 by Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz, a French surgeon. He started what became known as the ‘Illouz Method” – a technique of suction-assisted lipolysis (breakdown or destruction of fats) after infusing fluid into tissues using blunt cannulae and a high-vacuum suction. Illouz demonstrated both reproducible good results and low morbidity. During that decade several US surgeons experimented with liposuction, developing some variations from the Illouz Method, with mixed results.

In 1985 the tumescent technique was described by Drs. Jeffrey Alan Klein (USA) and Patrick Lillis (USA), which added elevated volumes of liquid containing a local anesthetic, allowing the technique to be carried out in an office setting under intravenous sedation, rather than general anesthesia. There were concerns about the high volume of fluid and lidocaine toxicity potential with tumescent techniques, which eventually led to the concept of lower volume super wet tumescence.

Near the end of the last century ultrasound was introduced to assist in the removal of fat, which was initially liquefied through the application of ultrasonic energy. However, there was an increase in reported cases of complications.

In recent years laser tipped probes – which induce thermal lipolysis – have been introduced. How beneficial they are over traditional techniques still remains to be determined.

Over the last three decades, advancement in liposuction techniques have meant that a larger number of fat cells can be removed with less blood loss, risk, discomfort, and shorter recovery periods. Fat can also be used today as a natural filler (autologous fat transfer), where fat is taken from one part of the body, cleaned, and then injected into another area of the body – for example, to enhance the shape of the buttocks or reduce wrinkles.

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