The development of liposuction
Already over 100 years ago, attempts were made to permanently remove fat, although with very modest results. Fat deposits were removed by making large cuts to the skin that obviously caused large scars. This frequently led to massive infections and bleeding. In 1921, the French surgeon Durjarrier conducted a “defatting” from the well padded inner knees and calves of a ballerina. The result was a disaster, resulting in the subsequent amputation of her leg.
The first advances in the so-called fat removal operation came from the Brazilian surgeon Pitanguy in 1964. However, even with his techniques, long and visible scars remained.
At the beginning of the 1960’s, the German surgeon Schrudde proposed “lipo-exeresis”. He removed fat through small incisions with a specialized curette. High blood loss, infections and hanging skin lappets were still a problem.
Finally, in 1975 the Italian surgeons Arpad and Giorgio Fischer had the idea of simply suctioning off fat. They developed a motorized suction cannula with a rotating blade directly under the cannula opening. However, the operation results were unsatisfactory: complications such as bleeding, bumps, and water retention in the wound were described.
The real breakthrough came from the French doctor Illouz. He combined the suction device with blunter, finer cannules in order to remove fat. But complications such as high blood loss still meant that fat suctioning was risky.
Dr. P. Fournier, Pionier of the modern liposuction
Fournier, another French surgeon, can be called the real pioneer of liposuction. He observed that a saline solution introduced into the tissue prior to liposuction greatly eased the suction process. In 1985, Fournier switched from a mechanical extraction method to a manual method, whereby reduced pressure is created in a syringe, and the fat is suctioned through a superimposed cannula. Fournier improved the technique by using thinner cannulas and a more subtle suctioning method, the so-called Criss-Cross technique (fan-shaped siphoning). Thus, he enabled more targeted and individualized modeling.
It was only in1985 when the American dermatologist Klein significantly increased the dose of the anesthetic (lidocaine) recommended by Fournier and the amount of the vaso-constrictive drug (adrenaline) present in the saline solution, that the liposuction procedure became popular world-wide. The tumescent technique for liposuction was established the world over.