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What Is Liposuction?

  • February 8, 2022

Liposuction (also known as body contouring or lipoplasty) is a fat removal surgery that uses suction to remove fat from specific parts of the body. This method shapes stubborn parts of the body that have not been affected by diet or exercise. Therefore, it is used mostly to give a balanced shape to the body by contouring stubborn parts and cannot reform the entire body on its own.

If your objective is to lose weight, however, this is not the recommended procedure since it doesn’t remove all that much weight. Diet and exercise are much more efficient ways when the goal is losing weight.  

How Much Weight Can You Lose with Liposuction?

The safe estimate for the amount of fat that can be removed via this procedure is about 5-8 pounds (2-4 liters). Going above 5 liters may cause complications and risks. In case the patient wishes to remove more than 5 liters or to have fat removed from different sections of the body, the process will be divided into separate stages, taking place in a longer duration with approximately 3 months between every two stages. Nevertheless, there’s no fixed cutoff point and the safe weight limit for removal may vary from person to person. Nowadays researchers claim that people with more fat in their bodies can also have higher amounts removed safely.

Bear in mind that while this method is insufficient for removing all the excess fat in the body, it can still make substantial changes in one’s appearance. This is because lipoplasty helps shape more noticeable parts of the body.

The Specific Spots for Liposuction and Safety Precautions

As mentioned earlier, liposuction works if you have too much body fat in particular spots:

  • Abdomen
  • Ankles and calves
  • Arms
  • Buttocks
  • Chest
  • Face and neck
  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Love handles
  • Legs and thighs
  • Waist

These are the most common body parts and areas for liposuction.

Furthermore, lipoplasty is a serious surgery, meaning that all the necessary precautions have to be met in order to have a safe surgery. You need to meet certain conditions if you want to proceed with this surgery:

  • You shouldn’t be a smoker
  • You have to have firm, elastic skin (in other words, should not have loose skin)
  • You should be within 30% of your ideal weight (in other words, this is not recommended for obese people)
  • If you are taking medication, make sure to let the liposuction doctor know beforehand
  • You shouldn’t have any serious illness or disease
  • You shouldn’t have any history of serious illnesses or diseases (such as heart problems, diabetes, cancer and etc.)
  • You need to have a working immune system

Anyone who wants to undergo liposuction surgery should take these safety factors into consideration.

Liposuction Stages

There are different techniques for liposuction; each one works better for a specific case.

Before the Operation

Your surgeon will first choose the most suitable technique according to your objective and the selected liposuction spot. Additionally, the doctor will mark the target spots before the surgery. At this stage, you might want to ask your doctor about the medicine and the measures you need to take before the surgery. You may also ask about the sedation/anesthesia that is going to be used for the operation.

During the Operation

During the operation, anesthesia will be administered to reduce pain throughout the procedure. You may be given general anesthesia (causing you to become unconscious), local anesthesia (causing local numbness), or sedation (for relaxation). In case you feel pain after taking the anesthesia, inform your surgeon to make sure everything is under control. The operation may take several hours, depending on the situation and the amount of fat that has to be removed. During the operation, the surgical team will monitor your vital signs (such as heartbeat and blood pressure).

You may have to rest at the hospital for a couple of hours after the surgery until you recover.

After the Operation

There may some pain, swelling (edema), and a feeling of tenderness around the operated area during the first few days after your liposuction operation. Of course, your surgeon will provide you with medication in order to help ease the pain. Moreover, your incisions will be kept open, and tubes will be put inside them to let out excess fluid or blood.

During your recovery, your doctor will advise you to wear compression garments in order to prevent edema. It would be a good idea to make inquiries from your doctor about certain things. For example, how long is the recovery process going to last? How to take care of the operated surface and the drains? How much should you limit your activities? Follow your physician’s instructions carefully to have a safe recovery.


Depending on the operation spot, technique, and the amount of fat that has been removed, the recovery time may vary. Try to rest as much as you can for the first few days. Fluids can help ease the pain and you should try not to eat salt, since it may worsen the swelling. Sometimes recoveries happen faster, ranging from 5-7 days before you can go back to work. The recovery time would be longer in case you want to start rigorous physical activities again, which would be around 5 weeks. Remember that light activities such as walking are not harmful during this period. Usually, swelling decreases after a couple of weeks, while it takes the incisions more than a week to close up. However, some cases may take longer to completely heal and for the swelling to subside. These long-term recoveries last roughly 3 months.

Moreover, the body will look leaner after the swelling subsides, but the skin may be a bit lax, which is normal. The results will be permanent if you can keep your weight steady. However, in the case that you do gain some weight, it is unpredictable to say where the fat will accumulate and whether it is going to be identical to your previous shape or not. Fat can even accumulate in previously treated areas, although fat is more likely to amass in surfaces that have not been treated.

You will most likely be provided with before and after photos to see the improvements.

In case you need several operations, follow your surgeon’s steps during the whole procedure.

The Risks of Liposuction

  • Infection
  • Bruising
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Damage to organs or nerves
  • Heat injury from ultrasound equipment
  • Loose skin
  • Numbness
  • Cardiac or/and kidney related problems

In some cases, it is safer to divide the surgery into spaced sessions. If more than one area of the body or a large surface of the body, risks will be higher. Likewise, if the goal of the operation is to remove more than 5 liters, it is best to treat such operations as multiple surgeries.

Is it possible to die from liposuction, you might ask? The answer is yes, but the possibility is as low as 3 in 100,000, according to some studies. Whereas some research indicates a mortality rate of 20 per 100,000.   


  • Is liposuction a good method for losing weight?
    • Liposuction reduces stubborn fat in specific areas of the body. With that being said, if someone were obese or overweight, this would not be a good method for losing weight, as each liposuction surgery can only reduce about 5 liters of fat. Exercise and diet are better ways for weight loss in such cases.
  • Does liposuction fix loose skin?
    • Liposuction is useful for fat removal but does not treat excess skin. This means that only people with good skin elasticity are good candidates for liposuction. Furthermore, liposuction does not address the loose skin that is left behind following the operation.
  • Is there a specific age range for liposuction?
    • Well-being, healthiness, and having firm skin are the factors that make a good candidate for liposuction. Whether the subject is old or young, possessing these qualities would be enough to have this surgery. Loose skin is obviously more common among older aged individuals, yet this does not include people who have firm skin even in old age.
  • What is the difference between liposuction in men and women?
    •  The target areas are different in men and women. Women usually have surgeries on the belly, thighs, hips, and love handles. Men, however, tend to have lipo more frequently on the back, chest, face, abdomen, and love handles.
  • Does liposuction always help remove belly fat?
    • In a liposuction surgery, fat that is removed is located above the muscle and under the skin. If there is excess fat under the muscle and around close to the organs, then liposuction simply does not work. Liposuction cannot remove belly fat that is not located under the skin. Exercise and diet surgery are effective procedures in this regard.
  • How much does a liposuction surgery cost?
    • This may vary depending on the target spot and the operator’s experience. A rough estimate of the price would range from $3000-$8000.
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