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Fast Facts

What is it? A fairly simple procedure in which excess body fat is either suctioned away or liquified using ultrasound.

Normal healing time: A few days for initial recovery, followed by several weeks for swelling to ease completely.

Average price in the US: $3000 - $5000 or higher depending on the extent of the procedure.

Liposuction or lipoplasty, which removes localized fat from the body, is one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures. It may be performed on hips, thighs, abdomen, buttocks, arms, neck or face, or in a combination of areas that can help reshape or resculpt your body in one day.

If you are considering liposuction, it makes sense to do a bit of research on what to expect. Going in with realistic expectations and knowledge of the benefits and risks will help improve the chances that you'll be happy with the results.

Choose an experienced, board certified surgeon

As with any surgical procedure, do your research and choose a doctor who is certified to perform liposuction. Normally, the more procedures a surgeon performs, the better the results. Like any other skill, practice does improve the results.

Beware of doctors who claim to be certified but cannot show you proof that they are Board Certified.

Complications during liposuction are rare, but they do occur. You'll want the most qualified surgeon performing your procedure to make sure that any unusual reactions are handled quickly and professionally.

If you've gone to several doctors who advise against having the procedure due to your health or other considerations, accept their professional opinions. The surgeon who agrees to do a liposuction procedure that most other board certified doctors feel is too risky may be placing your life at risk.

What is liposuction?

The procedure is fairly simple. During liposuction, excess fat is removed with a cannula, a mini "vacuum cleaner" the size of a large pen, or by first using ultrasound to liquefy the fat and then suctioning it out.

A small incision is first made where the instrument is inserted, so liposuction can be performed under local anesthesia. If large amounts of fat are to be removed general anesthesia may be recommended so that the patient is asleep during the entire procedure.

Risks involved in liposuction may include infection or temporary numbness around the incision area. Pock marks or wrinkling of the skin where the fat is removed may require another procedure to firm up the skin following liposuction. Generally, a compression garment is prescribed to help reduce swelling and shrink the skin to fit the new body contour.

Recovery time

While the procedure normally only takes a few hours, you'll have to wait for any swelling to disappear before you see the full benefits of having liposuction. Depending on the extent of the procedure, which type of liposuction you choose and how fast your body heals, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks after surgery.

While some people recover completely within a few days to a week, many post-op patients have to wear the compression garment for up to a month after surgery.


A newer technique known as SmartLipo uses a very thin cannula with a laser at the end to melt the fat tissue. The benefits of this type of liposuction are that the scars are extremely small, bruising is dramatically reduced, the surgery can be done with local anesthesia, healing is faster and the laser treatment helps to shrink the skin — avoiding the problem of hanging skin when the fat is gone.

The procedure is generally not recommended as a substitute for dieting or exercise. However, stubborn pockets of fat can frustrate even the most successful dieter. If you're in in general good health, but cannot trim up a section of your body no matter how much you diet or exercise, liposuction may be just what the doctor ordered...

More about liposuction around the Web:

- Information central offering chats and discussion boards, FAQs, first person accounts, an extensive array of liposuction photos, advice on how to choose a plastic surgeon.

Lipoplasty or Liposuction - Description of the best candidates for liposuction, planning and preparing for surgery, related anesthesia, liposuction procedures, benefits and risks, post-operative care.

MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia - Liposuction - Illustrated guide to the topic featuring a description of the procedure, risks and benefits, expectations after surgery, post-operative care.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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