Liposuction (lipoplasty) is a cosmetic surgery procedure that allows fat removal beneath the skin’s surface using small remote incisions to create improved proportions resulting in a better looking figure. For some people, excess fat may remain in certain areas of the body despite weight loss, healthy eating, and exercise. Liposuction can help reduce localized fat on the arms, legs, waist, back, buttocks, chin, and face. Whereas weight loss will result in an overall reduction in size of your whole body, liposuction can spot reduce areas resulting in better proportions of your body. Liposuction may be used with other procedures, including facelifts, breast reductions, or tummy tucks.

Liposuction uses a small wand (cannula) that is inserted through small incisions in the skin. There are a few different types of procedures. Tumescent or super-wet liposuction involves inserting a sterile solution containing adrenaline and numbing medication before the fat is removed. Another method, ultrasound assisted lipoplasty (UAL), uses ultrasound energy to break down and liquefy the fat. The wand is moved back and forth to break up the fat deposits. The loosened fat is then vacuumed out of the body. By maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly, the results can be permanent.

You will have an initial consultation with your doctor prior to your procedure. Your doctor will evaluate your fat deposits and skin integrity. You should tell your doctor about your concerns and expectations. Your doctor will perform a general health evaluation. It is common for “before” photos to be taken for your medical records. You will need to stop smoking several weeks before your surgery. Your doctor will let you know if any of your medications should be temporarily discontinued as well.


Liposuction may be performed at an accredited plastic surgeon’s outpatient surgical facility, hospital, or outpatient surgery center. It can be an outpatient procedure or require a short hospital stay, depending on the extent and areas of treatment. It can be performed with general anesthesia, twilight anesthesia (IV sedation) or even local anesthesia. You should plan to have a person drive you home and stay with you for the first night.

Your surgeon will use a pre-determined pattern of treatment. Several small incisions will be made in your skin in areas to hide their visibility. A sterile solution is placed under the skin first to help limit bleeding or bruising and numb the area to be liposuctioned. Next, the cannula is inserted and moved back and forth. Finally, a surgical vacuum or syringe is attached to the cannula to remove the fatty deposits. Occasionally, temporary tubes may be placed in the incisions to help drain excess fluids. The incisions are then closed with stitches.

Initially, you will wear a specially designed compression garment or elastic bandage to help reduce swelling. You will be provided with specific aftercare instructions and should avoid excessive motion or force while you are healing. It may take several months for the swelling to resolve. It is highly recommended that you maintain your rejuvenated new look by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit

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