A liposuction cannula is considered one of the most vital tools of liposuction. It usually consists of a small, hollow metal rod with an aperture or series of apertures at one end. The other end usually connects to a vacuum device that sucks fatty tissue out from under the skin. Liposuction cannulas generally come in a range of sizes and designs, to suit the many requirements of the procedure.
A liposuction cannula with large apertures at the tip can remove fatty tissue quickly, while a cannula with small holes at the tip may be best suited for close work that requires precision. A liposuction cannula with serrations may be useful for working in areas where fibrous connective tissue can be found integrated with the fatty tissue. A cannula with openings on only one side can be helpful for removing fat from directly beneath the skin, without causing skin injury.
The average liposuction cannula is about 26 to 36 cm (10.3 to 14.2 inches) long and about 1.4 to 5 mm (.05 to 0.2 inches) wide. Smaller cannulae are often available for liposuction jobs that require finesse and strict attention to detail. The cannulae may have one or more apertures at the tip. If they're used in ultrasound-assisted liposuction, cannulae may even emit ultrasonic waves. Cannula may be sharp, beveled, serrated, bullet-shaped or smooth. Each type has a special purpose that can give cosmetic surgeons a great deal of flexibility when performing a liposuction procedure.
The liposuction cannula isn't always used to suck fatty tissue out of the body. Some types of cannulae are mostly used to inject medicated solutions into the treatment area prior to fat removal. This solution may consist of saline, epinephrine, and lidocaine. The lidocaine is meant to anesthetize the area, while epinephrine helps contract the blood vessels of the area to prevent damage. The liposuction cannula most often used to inject the solution into the treatment area is usually blunt and narrow, with many apertures at the tip.
The types of cannulae used during a specific liposuction procedure can vary somewhat according to the surgeon's preference. Many surgeons prefer to use large cannulae, with large apertures, to remove large amounts of fatty tissue quickly. This is especially true when the area to be treated is rather large. When treatment areas are small or the procedure requires more than the usual amount of delicacy, surgeons might prefer smaller cannulae.