The abdomen is the most common area of the body to be treated by liposuction among both men and women. However, the abdomen is also the most frequent site of prior general surgery, and thus entails the greatest risk of concomitant pathology.
One of the most common issues that one encounters in liposuction of the abdomen is the presence of an umbilical hernia. An umbilical hernia is a defect in the fascia of the abdomen, i.e. the strong layer of connective tissue under the skin and fat that protects the internal organs. When an umbilical hernia is present, intestines can protrude through this defect in the fascia to lie at the same level of the superficial fat in the abdomen that is liposuctioned. Hence, this places the bowel at risk of being injured by the liposuction cannula.
During your consultation with your liposuction surgeon, you will be asked about any abdominal operations you have had, including whether you had prior hernia repairs. You should bring with you the necessary information pertaining to your previous umbilical hernia repair, including how long ago, was it done in an open fashion, or was it done laparoscopically or robotically, and whether mesh was used. The liposuction surgeon will examine for the presence of new or recurrent abdominal hernias.
How soon after abdominal hernia repair is it safe to undergo liposuction?
The question is complex, because not every umbilical hernia is the same, and nor is its repair. For a small umbilical hernia that was repaired laparoscopically, a three month wait may be adequate, although this is completely at the discretion of the operating liposuction surgeon after discussion of the relevant facts, risks, and alternatives pertaining to your specific case.
In general, adequate time for healing of the hernia and incorporation of living tissue into the mesh should be allowed to pass prior to liposuction surgery.
At the other extreme of the spectrum and more problematic are larger hernias that were just bridged with mesh without approximation of the edges of the defect with sutures. This type of repair, while reaching the goal of preventing extraabdominal protrusion of bowel, lead to persistence of weak spots over the defect that may lead to a risk of perforation of the mesh by the liposuction cannula. In these cases, if there is any question regarding the type of repair, preoperative imaging may be ordered such a CT scan that can shed further detail on the safety of liposuction.