Knee liposuction is a surgical procedure performed to improve the aesthetics of the legs, but also as a palliative treatment for lipedema, a problem that may have a genetic origin and leads to the accumulation of fat in the lower parts of the body.
Lipedema is not a serious disease, but it can cause pain, a feeling of heaviness and even difficulty walking and would have been the motivation for the procedure carried out by model Luana Andrade, 29, who died on Tuesday (7) due to a massive embolism after a lipo.
How is knee liposuction performed?
Considered a safe surgery, liposuction has risks, and a well-done pre-operative procedure, with cardiological and anesthetic exams, as well as professionals and hospital environments prepared to identify vessels, avoid perforations and deal with complications.
The procedure involves suctioning the fatty tissue from the area through a metal tube called a cannula and a suction pump. Fat can be “broken down” before and during the intervention with ultrasound, vibration equipment or laser.
Experts say that lipos are more common on the back and waist and that the indication for the knee region is rare, but that it is used aesthetically to better show the definition of muscles in athletes, models and people who are already thin.
According to doctor Eduardo Teixeira, from the Brazilian College of Plastic Surgery (CBCP), lipo was invented to remove localized fat deposits, but it is not a weight loss surgery. “It’s a fat that was genetically determined there to be an energy store, so it’s the first one you fill up and the last one you lose.”
In the case of knee lipo for aesthetic reasons, the surgery removes accumulated fat, which will be the last to be eliminated in dieting processes, such as that on the double chin, under the chin or on the knee.
Doctor Carlos Samuel Micelli Coleman, plastic surgeon at the Brazilian Society of Plastic Surgery (SBCP), says that it is a low-risk intervention with a very small area for recovery. “The knee lipo procedure corrects poorly located fat,” he says.
One of the risks, as in all surgery, is thromboembolism and the surgeon must be careful, always observing whether the patient has any tendency towards blood hypercoagulability, whether they are well hydrated or have venous problems. Being a smoker, using contraceptives or anabolic steroids are factors that increase the risk of thrombophilia.
Furthermore, the knee lipo needs to be delimited. “It has to be very well marked, because it’s not fat like the abdomen, which covers everything. Knees, as well as culottes, if you cover too much, it will leave a hole”, says Teixeira.
What defines lipedema?
Lipedema is an edema, a swelling in fatty tissue. It’s a relatively new term for what was previously better known as “infiltrated fats.” This adipose tissue is localized and can cause physical and aesthetic discomfort in the patient, who often feels swollen and heavy in the legs.
“Fat is already a type of cell that retains liquid. And sometimes even due to gravity, due to lack of lymphatic circulation, or because the person stands for a long time, this accumulates liquid there and that fat is infiltrated”, says Teixeira.
What precautions should be taken during the procedure?
The recommendation is that all plastic surgery, whether aesthetic or not, be carried out by a doctor accredited by medical entities as a specialist in the field and that the procedure takes place in a hospital with full safety structures. It is important to guide the already thin patient about the limits of interventions.
The procedure is not recommended for obese people who need to lose weight, since the maximum limit for extraction is up to 7% of body fat.
The patient’s clinical history should never be withheld from the doctor and the person must be healthy enough to undergo the intervention — inform previous cases of thrombophilia or in the family, if they are a smoker, if they have had a cerebrovascular accident, such as a stroke, heart attack or Covid-19, if you take continuous medication or hormones of some kind.
Thrombosis, recalls Coleman, can be triggered by several factors and, as a result, lead the patient to an embolism like the one that affected the influencer. He says that there are preventive measures, such as hydrating the patient, using elastic compression stockings and using massagers on the lower limbs, which also help with healing.