Liposuction, a cosmetic procedure designed for fat removal, provides a lasting solution by removing adipocytes, the fatstoring cells, from specific areas you want to improve. This technique is particularly effective in addressing fat deposits that may not respond to traditional diet and exercise.

Alternative terms for liposuction include lipoplasty or simply “lipo.”

Liposuction can be performed on various parts of the body with excess fat deposits. Commonly treated areas include:

  • Face, cheeks, chin or neck
  • Abdomen, stomach or waist
  • Back or chest
  • Hips or “love handles”
  • Buttocks
  • Upper arms
  • Thighs
  • Inner knee, calves or ankles

Qualifications for the procedure

To ensure the effectiveness and safety of the liposuction procedure, candidates must meet specific requirements. Those eligible for liposuction include:

  • Adults in overall good health.
  • Individuals with a weight within the average or slightly above-average range.
  • People who don’t smoke.
  • Those with firm and elastic skin (abundance of elastin protein) and well-maintained muscle tone.
  • Individuals experiencing localized fat deposits that do not respond to to conventional diet and exercise.
  • Individuals with achievable expectations for the results of the procedure.

These are typical criteria that doctors assess before suggesting a treatment. Your doctor will inform you whether liposuction is a suitable option for you.

Age typically does not play a significant role when discussing liposuction with your doctor. However, individuals aged 65 and above might have skin that is less firm or has experienced a reduction in elasticity.

Liposuction is applicable to individuals of any gender. In the case of men or those assigned male at birth, doctors might suggest liposuction as a solution for certain types of gynecomastia or the enlargement of male breast tissue.

Types of liposuction surgeries

Various liposuction procedures are accessible to cater to diverse treatment objectives. Different kinds of liposuction encompass:

  • Tumescent liposuction: This is the most prevalent liposuction technique. Surgeons inject a saline (saltwater) solution, which includes medications like epinephrine, into fatty areas. Epinephrine constricts blood vessels, facilitating easier fat removal and reducing blood loss. Additional medications may be added for pain relief.
  • Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL): Surgeons employ ultrasonic energy through a metal rod beneath the skin to liquefy fat before extraction.
  • Vibration Amplification of Sound Energy at Resonance (VASER): VASER liposuction utilizes a grooved stainless steel tool (cannula) with ultrasound waves to break up and remove fat cells efficiently. It is a form of UAL.
  • Suction-assisted liposuction: This traditional method employs a vacuum to extract fat from the body.
  • Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL): Power-assisted liposuction utilizes a compact stainless steel tool (cannula), which oscillates back and forth across your fat deposits, effectively breaking them up, facilitating easier and more precise removal.
  • Laser-assisted liposuction: In this method, strong laser lights on a flexible tube (fiber) break down and liquefy fat for simplified removal, requiring only a small incision in the skin.

Before your procedure, your doctor will engage in a discussion regarding the various liposuction options and provide a recommendation tailored to your specific goals.

Reasons for undergoing the procedure

You may contemplate undergoing a liposuction procedure if:

  • Have attempted dieting and exercising for an extended period, but specific areas of your body show resistance or fail to naturally reduce.
  • Desire to address fatty bulges and achieve a smoother body contour.
  • Seeking a lasting alteration to one’s physique.
  • Are able to allocate four to six weeks for your body to recover following the surgery.


Like any surgical procedure, liposuction carries inherent risks, although it generally maintains a positive safety record. Choosing a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon can help minimize these risks. Smaller areas of fat removal involve a shorter procedure and fewer associated risks, while infrequent, liposuction risks may include:

  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Bleeding
  • Numbness in the treated areas.
  • Swelling or impaired wound healing
  • Pain or discomfort persisting until the surgical site fully heals
  • Alterations in skin sensation or changes in skin color
  • Contour deformities
  • Fluid formation under the skin (seroma)
  • Puncture of the internal organs
  • Heart problem
  • Kidney problem
  • Lidocaine side effect

Before the procedure

Before your liposuction procedure, you will have a consultation with your surgeon. In this meeting, you will cover:

  • Evaluating the efficacy and safety of the procedure.
  • The type of your skin
  • Determining the most suitable liposuction option for your needs.
  • Establishing realistic expectations for the outcomes of the procedure.
  • A thorough review of your medical history, including a discussion about allergies and your current medications.
  • Addressing any additional questions or concerns you may have.
  • Price of the surgery.

If you’re contemplating liposuction, it’s important to set realistic expectations and goals. Liposuction is designed to address specific areas of your body and is not a remedy for obesity. Undergoing liposuction does not serve as a preventative measure against weight gain or regain.

Your surgeon will provide you with precise guidelines to adhere to before your liposuction surgery. These instructions may include:

  • Having a laboratory exam.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Adhere to dietary or alcohol restrictions.
  • Take or refrain from specific medications and vitamins.

During the procedure

Before your liposuction procedure, your doctor will administer anesthesia, which may be either local (targeting the surgical area) or general (inducing sleep). Anesthesia ensures that you won’t experience pain during the procedure.

Once the anesthesia takes effect, your surgeon will create small incisions in your skin. They will then insert a suction device connected to a small, stainless steel instrument known as a cannula into the fatty areas between your skin and muscles. The surgeon will maneuver the cannula to break up or liquefy the fat. Subsequently, excess fat will be removed using a suction pipe or a large syringe. Upon completing the procedure, the incision site will be closed with stitches, either dissolvable or non-dissolvable.

The process of your specific procedure depends on the type of liposuction chosen. It might be conducted as an outpatient procedure at your doctor’s office or a surgical center. However, if significant fat removal is involved, a hospital setting may be necessary, possibly requiring an overnight stay. Regardless of the setting, you’ll need someone to drive you to and from the surgery. The duration of liposuction surgery varies based on the amount of fat being removed and the number of treated areas.

After the procedure

Following your liposuction procedure, your healthcare provider will discuss:

  • Instructions on caring for your surgical site.
  • Information about necessary medications.
  • Details regarding your follow-up appointments.
  • Potential complications to watch out for.

Even though liposuction can eliminate fat and fat cells from specific body areas, it’s crucial to note that weight gain is still possible post-surgery. Following your recovery, your doctor will review your results and offer guidance on maintaining your newly shaped physique.

During the recovery period, you may observe signs of healing on your body, such as swelling, soreness, and bruising.

These indicators will diminish as your body undergoes the healing process. If you experience intense pain, it’s advisable to consult with your doctor.

To expedite your recovery and alleviate swelling and discomfort, you might be required to wear a compression garment on the treated area for several weeks. These garments play a role in reducing swelling and assisting your skin in adapting to its new contours. In certain instances, a temporary drain may be necessary in the incision to eliminate excess blood or fluid. Your doctor will provide instructions on your recovery period, highlighting what to monitor and how to manage any discomfort.


Your surgeon will discuss the specific timeline for your recovery, as it can vary depending on the extent of fat removal and the treated areas. In general, it may take up to six months for complete healing. During a part of this period, typically the initial six weeks, it’s crucial to prioritize rest and limit physical activities to support your body’s healing process.

For outpatient procedures, returning to work is typically possible within a few days. You can expect to start feeling more like your usual self around two weeks after surgery, while resuming regular physical activities, including exercise, may take up to six weeks.

Liposuction does result in some scarring, which is a natural outcome of the procedure. Your doctor will provide post-surgery guidance on self-care measures to minimize the chances of visible scarring or complications during the healing process. Generally, most individuals experience very small scars following the surgery.

Liposuction is a lasting cosmetic intervention designed to eliminate fat from specific body areas. The procedure ensures permanent removal of fat cells. In case of weight gain following the procedure, it typically does not concentrate significantly in the region where you underwent liposuction surgery. It’s essential to note that the surgery does not prevent overall weight gain, and it is not a solution for obesity.

Following the surgery, you can expect some swelling and fluid retention. As these diminish, you will begin to notice the enhanced contours of your body. Complete resolution of swelling may take anywhere from three to six months, after which the final results will become more apparent.