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Release: Aug. 7, 2000

UI Dermatology Clinic offers low-anesthetic, outpatient liposuction procedure

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care dermatologists have stepped up their use of a low-anesthetic technique to perform liposuction on an outpatient basis. The UI Dermatology Clinic began offering the procedure last fall on a limited basis.

Known as pure tumescent technique, the procedure uses diluted lidocaine as a local anesthetic and epinephrine to reduce bleeding. The pure tumescent technique eliminates the need for intravenous medication or fluid replacements and allows rapid recovery following surgery. UI dermatologists using the pure tumescent technique are certified by the American Board of Dermatology.

"There is a place for both pure tumescent technique and full anesthetic use in liposuction," said Duane C. Whitaker, M.D., UI professor of dermatology and head of dermatologic surgery. "Our goal in dermatology is to use the pure tumescent technique, which has two major benefits. The local anesthesia is very comfortable for the patient and, most important, it is extremely safe."

The UI dermatologists will usually treat a limited area, such as the hips or abdomen, in one outpatient session or treat a larger area through several outpatient procedures.

With the pure tumescent technique, many patients can go to work or resume other normal activities the same day following treatment, said David A. Davis, M.D., UI associate in dermatology.

The pure tumescent technique was developed in 1987 by a dermatologic surgeon. After the local anesthetic is injected into the area to be treated, the dermatologic surgeons insert canulas, or metal tubes, through tiny incisions made in the skin. Excess fat is drawn through the canulas, with care taken to sculpt the body. Because patients remain alert, some choose to observe the procedure as it is done.

"The ideal candidate for the procedure is close to his or her ideal body weight but has persistent problem areas of localized fat that they can't exercise off," Davis said.

Whitaker emphasized that the liposuction treatment is not a treatment for obesity or being overweight.

"People need to be doing their best to control their weight through diet, exercise and a healthy lifestyle," Whitaker said.

Many people have their abdomen, waist and thighs reduced. Through a series of procedures, people can have their entire torso or larger areas treated. Other treatment areas include the arms, face and chin/neck areas. The female to male ratio of patients seeking treatment is about 10 to 1.

People must be in good overall health and not have any chronic or unstable health conditions to be candidates for the pure tumescent technique of liposuction.

Post-treatment includes the use of special bandages and spandex garments on the affected skin and a minimum of one follow-up visit. Physicians will also prescribe Tylenol and sometimes a muscle relaxant. Insurance does not cover the procedure.

As with all medical conditions, it is best to seek the advice of your family physician before making any changes to your health routine.


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