What Is Flying Squirrel Liposuction?

Liposuction is liposuction, right? The surgeon uses suction to remove fat and the patient carries on with his her life. Seems simple enough.

While that’s a gross oversimplification, it’s not entirely inaccurate. But for some patients who have liposuction to address fatty deposits induced by lymphedema, things aren’t so cut and dry.

That’s why there’s a new technique known as flying squirrel liposuction.

Lymphedema Liposuction

A considerable number of people struggle with localized swelling of the body – most typically in the arms and legs. This is known as lymphedema. It’s caused by an abnormal accumulation of lymph due to a blockage in the lymphatic system. Lymphedema is most common in patients who have experienced lymph node removal or damage during cancer treatment.

While compression, massage, and exercise can help, some patients require lymphedema liposuction. Medically known as suction-assisted protein lipectomy (SAPL), this procedure not only removes fatty deposits caused by the blockage, but it also stimulates lymphatic regeneration.

The problem is, SAPL can result in excess skin for those who have large amounts of fiber build-up or abnormal fat. And excess skin creates its own new set of complications.

Patients are required to use compression on the treated area. If there’s a lot of loose skin, compression can cause it to fold upon itself, strangle blood flow, and potentially result in skin necrosis. Plus, patients may experience irregular contouring of the affected body part – causing it to appear deformed.

This is where flying squirrel liposuction swoops in to save the day.

What Is Flying Squirrel Liposuction?

A pioneering surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic realized that by making an incision and removing excess skin, he was able to access tissue that couldn’t be removed with liposuction alone.

And he wasn’t willing to accept the conventional and long-held argument that skin excision was unneeded because the skin would naturally shrink back. This wasn’t the case for many women post-pregnancy or among those who experienced massive weight loss. So why would anyone expect the same of those with lymphedema?

Thus, flying squirrel liposuction consists of comprehensive lymphedema liposuction followed by a skin excision such as a plastic surgeon would routinely perform for a cosmetic tummy tuck, or leg/arm lift.

It’s been branded “flying squirrel” liposuction because the skin post-procedure resembles that of a flying squirrel’s when in flight. Aside from taut skin that doesn’t fold upon itself, patients report less contour irregularity and skin necrosis. They are also, across the board, more satisfied with the results than with just an SAPL procedure.

Though removing the excess skin adds about 30 minutes to the procedure, this does not affect recovery time – which typically takes around four weeks. This is considerably shorter than dealing with a lifetime of complications. So it’s more than a fair tradeoff.

Curious About Liposuction?

Flying squirrel liposuction is just the latest in advanced plastic surgery techniques. So if you’re interested in learning about liposuction and what it can do for you, contact us today for a free consultation.

It may be just the thing to infuse confidence back into your life.