When Liposuction was introduced in the early 1970's, as soon as the suctioning was begun significant amount of bleeding accompanied the fat removal. Early text on Liposuction had formulas on removal of how much fat / blood required blood transfusions.
In the 1980's the excessive bleeding encountered with liposuction was stopped with the introduction of TUMESCENT LIPOSUCTION. To stop the bleeding, the fat to be vacuumed is engorged with physiologic / IV fluid (either Saline or Ringer's lactate) which is mixed with dilute amounts of Adrenaline (Epinephrine to reduce bleeding) and a small amount of Lidocaine (or similar local anesthesia medication to reduce pain during and after the procedure). The sheer pressure of the fluid in the fat displaces blood out of the areas. The Adrenaline causes blood vessels to spasm so they do not bleed and the local anesthesia reduces the discomfort.
So - Why is it called TUMESCENT ? Would it sound better if it was called SWELLING, PUFFY or DISTENTION LIPOSUCTION?? Of course not. Tumescent is derived from the Latin - tumescere to begin to swell, from tum?re (ALSO origin for tumor...). And we all KNOW, if something sounds foreign - well, it sounds more sophisticated. Doesn't it?
Since EVERY Plastic surgeon in the world practices tumescent anesthesia (IE infiltrates the fat about to be suctioned with a tumescent solution) - there is NO MYSTIC to it. However, the differentiation often comes from certain disciplines who falsely claim exclusivity to the use of this technique.
Plastic surgeons can choose to perform Tumescent Liposuction with EITHER without any sedation, with oral sedation, IV sedation or general anesthesia. The choice of the technique is up to the surgeon and his / her patient.
Dr. P. Aldea