What is liposuction?
The Liposuction Advantage
- One treatment may be all you need to reshape problem areas
- Treat more areas—and larger areas—in one procedure
- May be performed with either local or general anesthesia
- More consistent and predictable result than noninvasive treatments
Liposuction, sometimes referred to as "lipo" by patients, slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits and improving your body contours and proportion.
What liposuction can treat
- Abdomen and waist
- Upper arms
- Inner knee
- Chest area
- Cheeks, chin and neck
- Calves and ankles
Liposuction can be performed alone or along with other plastic surgery procedures, such as a facelift , breast reduction or a tummy tuck.
What liposuction can't do
Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity or a substitute for proper diet and exercise.
It is also not an effective treatment for cellulite—the dimpled skin that typically appears on the thighs, hips and buttocks—or loose saggy skin.
Ideal liposuction candidates are:
- Adults within 30% of their ideal weight who have firm, elastic skin and good muscle tone
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for body contouring
If you are bothered by excess fat deposits located anywhere on your body that don't respond to diet or exercise, liposuction may be right for you.
During your liposuction recovery, a compression garment or elastic bandages may cover treatment areas once your procedure is completed. These help to control swelling and compress the skin to your new body contours.
In addition, small temporary drains may be placed in existing incisions beneath the skin to remove any excess blood or fluid.
You will be given specific instructions that may include:
- How to care for the surgical site and drains
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
- When to follow up with your plastic surgeon
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
- How long will I wear the compression garment?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
It may take several months for the swelling to fully dissipate. As it does, your new contours and enhanced self-image should continue to develop.
The results of liposuction will be long lasting, provided you maintain a stable weight and general fitness.
Your improved body contour will be apparent when the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside.
As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.
Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
It is not possible to improve lax skin tone with liposuction.
Following your physician's instructions is key to the success of your surgery.
It's important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Liposuction procedure steps
The liposuction procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include local anesthesia, intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
Liposuction is performed through small, inconspicuous incisions.
First, diluted local anesthesia is infused to reduce bleeding and trauma. Then a thin hollow tube, or cannula, is inserted through the incisions to loosen excess fat using a controlled back and forth motion. The dislodged fat is then suctioned out of the body using a surgical vacuum or syringe attached to the cannula.
Problem areas that can be addressed with liposuction
Step 3 – See the results
Your improved body contour will be apparent once the swelling and fluid retention commonly experienced following liposuction subside. Get more information about liposuction results.
Liposuction risks and safety
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of liposuction are acceptable.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks and potential complications.
Liposuction risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Change in skin sensation that may persist
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, lungs and abdominal organs
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Fluid accumulation
- Irregular contours or asymmetries
- Irregular pigmentation
- Need for revision surgery
- Persistent swelling
- Poor wound healing
- Rippling or loose skin, worsening of cellulite
- Thermal burn or heat injury from ultrasound with the ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty technique
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
Secondary procedures may sometimes be recommended to reduce excess skin. Special considerations are needed when large amounts—usually more than five liters of fat—are suctioned.
Your liposuction consultation
During your liposuction consultation be prepared to discuss:
- Your surgical goals
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- Previous surgeries
Your liposuction surgeon will also:
- Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Take photographs
- Discuss your liposuction options
- Recommend a course of treatment
- Discuss likely outcomes of liposuction and any risks or potential complications
The consultation is the time to ask your plastic surgeon questions. To help, we have prepared a checklist of questions to ask your liposuction surgeon that you can take with you to your consultation.
It's very important to understand all aspects of your liposuction procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
Preparing for liposuction
In preparing for liposuction surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Liposuction should be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, licensed ambulatory surgical center or a hospital.
Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.