Tumescent means swollen or firm. The tumescent technique involves injecting large amounts of saline with very dilute lidocaine and epinephrine into the areas of fat to be removed, until it is swollen and firm.
When done correctly it is nearly painless but does take some time. We feel the time is worth it. It is the only technique that does not require a general anesthetic or heavy sedation.
In a large study in Florida all of the complications from office surgery reported over 4 years were 5 deaths and 14 patients that had to be transferred to the hospital after liposuction. All were associated with general anesthesia or heavy sedation. Another study has shown that nearly 1 : 5,000 patients die who have liposuction by general anesthesia or heavy sedation.
Dr. Jeffery Klein first described liposuction by tumescent anesthesia (totally local anesthesia) in 1985. Since that time there has never been a death associated with liposuction performed totally by local anesthesia. Although liposuction by general anesthesia is considered safe liposuction by local anesthesia is safer.