History of Liposuction
The history of liposuction in the United States is a good example of how opinions and attitudes change over time. Liposuction, as a cosmetic procedure, was first introduced by European surgeons in the early 1970s. It began with two Italian gynecologists (Dr. Georgio Fister and Dr. Arpad Fischer) in 1976. They developed a technique called ‘blunt closed liposuction’ and published it in 1978. Their suction cannulas were relatively large and sharp, but they were able to offer aesthetic improvements to patients with moderate to large fat deformities.
This innovative work was largely ignored by United States surgeons but was quickly adopted in France and promoted by Drs. Yues- Gerard Illouz and Piene Fournier. They modified and improved the technique and began teaching other interested doctors.
By the early 1980s, liposuction was beginning to be used in the United States. Due to the use of the large sharp cannulas, cosmetic results were limited. Blood loss limited the volume of fat removal and the cannulas often led to skin defects. Still, it was quickly becoming a popular procedure.
The most significant advance in liposuction was provided by Dr. Jeffery Klein, a dermatologist who developed and studied the use of tumescent local anesthesia. This technique significantly improved the results and safety of liposuction. His innovative development of small, non-sharp suction cannulas eliminated blood loss issues and allowed for much greater fat removal; the smaller cannulas also allowed doctors to treat patients who were only modestly overweight, and the recovery became much easier for patients. The smaller, non-sharp cannulas also allowed treatment of previously non-treatable body areas such as the arms, knees, inner thigh, and submental (chin) fat.
Further improvements in liposuction tools and techniques have made it one of the most frequently performed cosmetic procedures in the world. Newer innovations, such as Smartlipo™ have led to improved results, especially in skin tightening. Originally developed in Italy, Smartlipo™ involves the use of a laser, which helps tighten the loose skin caused by the fat removal. It is usually combined with tumescent liposculpture for the best results.