What is liposuction?
Liposuction techniques may be used to reduce localized fat deposits of the:
- Hips and buttocks
- 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 won’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.
Liposuction risks and safety information
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.
Preparing for liposuction
- 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.