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Diseases reference index «Liposuction»

Liposuction is the removal of excess body fat by suction using special surgical equipment. A plastic surgeon typically does the surgery.


Liposuction is a popular type of cosmetic surgery. It removes unwanted deposits of excess fat, to improve body appearance and to smooth irregular or distorted body shapes. The procedure is sometimes called body contouring.

Liposuction may be useful for contouring under the chin, neck, cheeks, upper arms, breasts, abdomen, buttocks, hips, thighs, knees, calves, and ankle areas.

However, liposuction is a serious surgical procedure and may involve a painful recovery. Because liposuction can have serious or occasionally fatal complications, you should carefully think about your decision to have this surgery.

Several different liposuction procedures exist:

  • Tumescent liposuction (fluid injection) is the most common type of liposuction. It involves injecting a large amount of medicated solution into the areas before the fat is removed (sometimes, the solution may be up to three times the volume of fat to be removed). The fluid is a mixture of local anesthetic (lidocaine), a drug that contracts the blood vessels (epinephrine), and an intravenous (IV) salt solution. The lidocaine in the mixture helps to numb the area during and after surgery, and may be the only anesthesia needed for the procedure. The epinephrine in the solution helps reduce the loss of blood, the amount of bruising, and the amount of swelling from the surgery. The IV solution helps remove the fat more easily and it is suctioned out along with the fat. This type of liposuction generally takes longer than other types.
  • The super-wet technique is similar to tumescent liposuction. The difference is that not as much fluid is used during the surgery--the amount of fluid injected is equal to the amount of fat to be removed. This technique takes less time; however, it often requires sedation with an IV or general anesthesia.
  • Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) is a fairly new technique, used in the U.S. since 1996. During this technique, ultrasonic vibrations are used to liquefy fat cells. After the cells are liquefied, they can be vacuumed out. UAL can be done in two ways, external (above the surface of the skin with a special emitter) or internal (below the surface of the skin with a small, heated cannula). This technique may help remove fat from dense, fiber-filled (fibrous) areas of the body such as the upper back or enlarged male breast tissue. UAL is often used together with the tumescent technique, in follow-up (secondary) procedures, or for greater precision. In general, this procedure takes longer than the super-wet technique.

A liposuction machine and special instruments are used for this surgery. The surgical team first preps the operative site and administers either local or general anesthesia. Through a small skin incision, a suction tube with a sharp end is inserted into the fat pockets and swept through the area where fat is to be removed. The dislodged fat is "vacuumed" away through the suction tube. A vacuum pump or a large syringe provides the suction action. Several skin punctures may be needed to treat large areas.

After the fat is removed, small drainage tubes may be inserted into the defatted areas to remove blood and fluid that gather during the first few days after surgery. If you lose a lot of fluid or blood during the surgery, you may meed fluid replacement (intravenously) or a blood transfusion.

Why the Procedure is Performed

The following are some of the uses for liposuction:

  • Cosmetic reasons, including "love handles," fat bulges, or an abnormal chin line.
  • To improve sexual function by reducing abnormal fat deposits on the inner thighs, thus allowing easier access to the vagina.
  • Body shaping for people who are bothered by fatty bulges or irregularities that cannot be removed by diet and/or exercise.

Liposuction is generally NOT appropriate for these uses:

  • As a substitute for exercise and diet, or as a cure for general obesity. However, it may be used to remove fat from isolated areas at different points in time.
  • As a treatment for cellulite (the uneven, dimpled appearance of skin over hips, thighs, and buttocks).
  • In certain areas of the body, such as the fat on the sides of the breasts, because the breast is a common site for cancer.

Many alternatives to liposuction exist, including a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), removal of fatty tumors (lipomas), breast reduction (reduction mammaplasty), or a combination of plastic surgery approaches.


Certain pre-existing conditions should be checked and brought under control before liposuction, including:

  • History of heart problems (heart attack)
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Allergic reactions to medications
  • Pulmonary problems (shortness of breath, air pockets in bloodstream)
  • Allergies (antibiotics, asthma, surgical prep)
  • Smoking, alcohol, or drug use

There are also risks associated with liposuction, including:

  • Shock (usually when not enough fluid is replaced during the surgery)
  • Fluid overload (usually from the procedure)
  • Infections (strep, staph)
  • Bleeding, blood clot
  • Tiny globules of fat in the bloodstream that block blood flow to tissue (fat embolism)
  • Nerve, skin, tissue, or organ damage or burns from the heat or instruments used in liposuction
  • Uneven fat removal (asymmetry)
  • Drug reactions or overdose from the lidocaine used in the procedure
  • Scarring (skin surface may be irregular, asymmetric, or even "baggy," especially in older people)

Finally, make sure to review and sign any informed consent (legal) and permission forms for photographs.

Before the Procedure

Before your surgery, you will have an initial patient consultation, which will include a history, physical exam, and a psychological evaluation. You may need to bring someone (such as your spouse) with you during the visit. You may need a second consultation to give you time to think over the surgery.

You should feel free to ask questions, and to feel satisfied with the answers to those questions. A properly informed person makes a better patient. You must understand fully the pre-operative preparations, the liposuction procedure, and the post-operative care. Understand that liposuction may enhance your appearance and self-confidence, but it will probably not give you your ideal body.

Before the day of surgery, you may have blood drawn and be asked to provide a urine saple. This allows the health care provider to rule out potential complications. If you are not hospitalized, you will need a ride home after the surgery.

After the Procedure

After the surgery, bandages are applied to keep pressure on the area and stop any bleeding, as well as to help maintain shape. Bandages are usually kept in place for at least 2 weeks. Your doctor may call you from time to time to check on your health and to monitor your healing. A visit back to the surgeon after 5-7 days is often recommended. Sometimes people gain weight after liposuction. This is due to the increased fluid from surgery.

Liposuction may or may not require a hospital stay, depending on the location and extent of surgery. Liposuction can be done in an office-based facility, in a surgery center on an outpatient basis, or in a hospital. For reasons of cost and convenience, liposuction of smaller volumes is usually done as an outpatient. You may need to stay in a hospital if a larger volume of fat is being removed, or if you are having other procedures done at the same time.

Most informed patients are satisfied with the cosmetic result of their surgery. Informed patients understand that there are limits to what liposuction can accomplish.

Outlook (Prognosis)

The liposuctioned area may appear larger than before surgery because of swelling. You must wear a tight stocking, girdle, or snug elastic dressing over the treated area to reduce swelling and bleeding, and to help shrink the skin to fit the new contour. You should wear this garment continuously for 2 to 3 weeks.

You will likely have swelling, bruising, numbness, and pain, but it can be managed with medications. The stitches will be removed in 5 to 10 days. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection.

You may feel sensations such as numbness or tingling, as well as pain, for weeks after the surgery. Walk as soon after surgery as possible to help prevent blood clots from forming in your legs. Avoid more strenuous exercise for about a month after the surgery.

You will start to feel better after about 1 or 2 weeks following liposuction surgery. You may return to work within a few days of the surgery. Bruising and swelling usually go away within three weeks; however, you may still have some swelling several months later.

Your doctor will check your progress through follow-up visits. If you have any questions or problems between office visits, call your doctor. Your new body shape will begin to emerge in the first couple of weeks; however, the improvement won't become more visible until about 4 to 6 weeks after surgery. By exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet, you can help maintain your new shape.

Facial Liposuction for the Chin and Neck

Facial liposuction, also called submental or submentum liposuction, can remove unwanted fat from under the chin and neck, helping to improve your appearance by banishing your double chin, jowls or even your turkey neck. It can change the look of your face, and others will be none the wiser ? often leaving them thinking you have simply shed a few pounds.

Chin / neck liposuction does not differ much from liposuction elsewhere on the body, except in scale. A smaller area is being treated and a smaller amount of fat (usually just a few ounces) is being removed.

Sometimes chin augmentation with implants can be performed in conjunction with facial liposuction to create or restore facial harmony. Neck / chin liposuction can also be done in conjunction with buccal fat extraction if you are bothered by chubby cheeks.

Is Facial Liposuction Right For You?

If you are thinking about having facial liposuction, make sure you are in good health before undergoing the procedure. Discuss your goals with your surgeon so that you can reach an understanding about what can realistically be achieved and whether facial liposuction is the best way to achieve these aesthetic objectives. If you are planning to lose weight, you should consider postponing the procedure, as weight loss may affect the look of your face.

Choosing a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon or board-certified facial plastic surgeon with extensive experience in facial liposuction is the best way to maximize the cosmetic results of your procedure. Ask to see before and after photos during your initial consultation for a better idea of what you can expect if you choose to undergo facial liposuction with this surgeon.

Facial liposuction

Facial liposuction is usually done with light sedation plus local anesthesia, unless you are having other facial procedures done at the same time. In that case, your surgeon may opt for general anesthesia. On its own, facial liposuction typically takes about 45 minutes to an hour to perform.

Your surgeon will make an incision that is about two to four centimeters long either in the angle of your lower jaw, just beneath your chin, or between your gums and the bottom of your inner lower lip. Your surgeon then inserts a thin tube (cannula) into the area via a tiny incision. The cannula is moved back and forth to break up the fat, making it easier to vacuum out. This is called traditional liposuction, but other liposuction types may be used. For example, ultrasound-assisted liposuction uses a special cannula that emits sound waves to help break up the fat, presumably making it easier to vacuum out. Power-assisted liposuction uses a motorized (not manual) cannula to break up fatty tissue before vacuuming it out. Laser-assisted liposuction liquefies the fat before it is removed, and water-assisted liposuction involves a jet of pulsating water to loosen fat cells from connective tissue while simultaneously vacuuming them out.

Once the liposuction procedure is complete, your incisions are closed. The surgeon may place an antibiotic-soaked piece of gauze between your lower lip and your gums. The results are immediate.

Facial Liposuction: Your Recovery Neck liposuction

Recovery after facial liposuction is not as grueling as with a facelift or some other more invasive facial rejuvenation procedures. There will likely be some mild discomfort that can be controlled with prescribed or approved over-the-counter pain killers. Some swelling and bruising is also normal; ask your surgeon whether there is anything you can do or take to help minimize it. Certain homeopathic remedies such as bromelain or Arnica Montana may have a role.

You will likely be asked to wear a compression garment for several weeks. Most people can return to work in five days; you may be back at work faster than this if you sport a turtle neck or scarf to cover the treated area.

Facial Liposuction Cost

Liposuction to the chin, cheeks, jowls and neck can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $5,000. Laser-assisted liposuction and ultrasound-assisted liposuction may cost more than traditional liposuction. These procedures are considered cosmetic and consequently are not covered by insurance. If the cost is prohibitive, ask your doctor about financing options.

Alternative Names

Fat removal - suctioning

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