Liposuction: Top 50 Frequently Asked Questions

By: Dr. J. Timothy Katzen


Liposuction, rooted in the Greek word "lipos" and the Latin Greek term "suctio," stands for the surgical removal of fat using suction techniques. This comprehensive guide breaks down the top 50 most commonly asked questions about liposuction, from the basic understanding of the procedure to its working mechanism and the benefits one can derive from it. We aim to provide a clear picture for those contemplating this popular plastic surgery option, emphasizing its safety when conducted under qualified and experienced hands. Whether you're curious about the intricacies of the procedure, its safety parameters, or the transformative effects it can offer, this blog has got you covered. Dive in to get a clearer perspective on the world of liposuction.

1) What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a plastic surgery procedure that removes fat. The word stem for the word "liposuction" comes from the Greek word "lipos," which means fat, and the Latin Greek word for "suctio," which means suction or to remove with negative pressure.
Therefore, liposuction is a surgical procedure that removes fat. It is come to mean the removal of fat with any suction technique. During liposuction, a small incision is made, and a sterile, stainless steel straw or cannula is inserted under your skin. This liposuction tube or straw is placed on negative suction, and fat is suctioned and removed from your body.

2) How does liposuction work?

During liposuction, fat is suctioned from your body. The entire fat cell is removed and discarded. Liquid is not just sucked from the fat cell. Instead, during liposuction, the entire fat cell is permanently dislodged and removed from that area of your body.

3) Is liposuction a safe procedure?

Yes, liposuction is a safe procedure when rules are followed. The limits of the liposuction should be discussed with your chosen plastic surgeon. If you have other medical conditions, these conditions may prohibit you from having liposuction. In the appropriate patient, liposuction is a relatively safe procedure in qualified and experienced hands compared to other forms of surgery. Safety and efficacy may be why liposuction is one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures.

4) What are the benefits of liposuction?

One benefit of liposuction is that you can permanently remove fat from one area. When diet and exercise fail to eliminate unwanted fat, with a relatively quick and straightforward liposuction procedure, this fat can be removed. Another benefit of liposuction is you are given a "new" body. After liposuction, you may be able to wear smaller, tighter-fitting clothes. Another benefit of liposuction is that removing fat may make exercising easier.

Another possible benefit of liposuction is that it may increase your self-esteem and improve your relationships.
Also, medical studies have conclusively shown that fat removal with liposuction can improve your metabolism.
Additional studies have shown that liposuction can even help with diabetes control.

5) Who is a good candidate for liposuction?

Good candidates for liposuction should be healthy, non-smokers, and without other medical problems. Ideally, you should be at your goal weight. If you are not at your goal weight, you need to consult with your chosen plastic surgeon. Liposuction is best for patients with small areas of fat deposition or lipodystrophy; liposuction is not a great solution for patients who are morbidly obese.

If you have some medical issues (like hypertension or diabetes) and they are well-controlled, you may still be allowed to have liposuction. However, you may not be a good candidate for liposuction if you have more significant medical comorbidities, like a history of bleeding, problems under anesthesia, and blood clot issues.

6) How much does liposuction cost?

Cost ranges for liposuction. The price of liposuction ranges due to a variety of factors. Liposuction cost ranges depending on the number of areas being suctioned, the amount of time under anesthesia, the experience of your plastic surgeon, and whether the procedure is to be performed in an office, surgicenter, or hospital. Another factor determining liposuction cost is whether your plastic surgeon or their nurse is to do your anesthesia or is an anesthesiologist doing your anesthesia.

The cost of liposuction also varies by geography; the price for liposuction in one town may vary compared to another town. Other factors to consider: Are garments included? Are pre-operative labs included? Are medications included? Are lymphatic massages included? All these factors contribute to the wide range of costs of liposuction.

7) What areas of the body can be treated with liposuction?

Virtually any part of the body can be treated with liposuction. The most common areas addressed with liposuction include the abdomen and love handles. Other common areas for liposuction include the thighs, calves, ankles, bra rolls, chest, back, arms, face, and neck.

This is a 37 year old female who wanted smaller abdomen and thighs. She underwent liposuction of abdomen and medial thighs.

8) Are there different types of liposuction techniques?

Yes, there are different types of liposuction techniques. Different liposuction techniques include Body Jet Lipo, Smart Lipo, Slim Lipo, Ultrasound-assisted Lipo, Power-assisted Lipo, Laser-assisted Lipo, Liposculpture, Micro Lipo, Tickle Lipo, and Sculpture Llipo. However, almost all techniques are the same. Tumescent fluid is injected, and the tumescent fluid is removed with fat. The only difference in fat removal is based on the type of machine used above.

9) What is the recovery process after liposuction?

For the first week, you will be swollen and have some mild bruising. After liposuction, most patients have mild to moderate pain, which is easily controlled with Tylenol or mild pain medication. Several days after liposuction, you will be allowed to shower. Lymphatic massage usually begins in the second or third week after liposuction. You should be able to return to work one to two weeks after the liposuction procedure. For approximately six weeks after liposuction, you will wear a compression garment.

10) Does liposuction leave scars?

Liposuction does leave small scars. During liposuction, incisions are created to allow entry of the liposuction cannula to remove fat. The more fat that needs to be removed, the more likely your plastic surgeon will need a larger cannula to remove fat quickly and efficiently. The larger the liposuction cannula, the larger the resulting liposuction scar. Liposuction cannot be performed without leaving a small residual scar.

However, the liposuction scars are usually less than a centimeter and heal well. Usually, the liposuction incisions are placed in inconspicuous spots, so the scars from liposuction are barely noticeable. Most patients feel it is worthwhile to trade their tummy and love handle fat for several tiny, hard-to-see scars.

11) Is liposuction a permanent solution for fat removal?

Yes, liposuction is a permanent fat removal solution. Fat is permanently removed from a particular area during liposuction and thrown away. After liposuction, you must wear your compression garment to minimize fluid buildup and swelling. Liposuction is not a ticket to eat as much as you want and have more liposuction later. Liposuction should be a reset button to help get your body back and under control. Liposuction should be combined with diet and exercise before and after your procedure to maintain permanent fat loss results. After liposuction, you must continue to watch what you eat and exercise daily to maintain your results.

12) Are the results of liposuction immediate?

Yes, the results of liposuction or immediate on the operating room table. Liposuction results are seen right after surgery before you awake from anesthesia. This is why many Instagram pictures are taken in the operating room right after the procedure. However, as you wake up, your body fluids rush to the area of trauma, and you start to swell. The main areas that swell are the areas that previously had liposuction. Swelling is also called edema. The swelling or edema can sometimes take 6 to 8 weeks to dissipate. The more aggressive the liposuction and the more fat removed, the longer the swelling stays. So, even though the results are immediate on the operating room table, usually, the patient sees the final results 6 to 8 weeks after the liposuction procedure.

13) How much fat can be removed during a single liposuction session?

The amount of fat that can be removed during a single liposuction session depends on your anatomy, health, amount of blood loss during the procedure and your plastic surgeon's comfort level. In some states, your chosen plastic surgeon determines the amount of removed fat. In other states like Florida, only 5 L of fat can be removed during one liposuction session.

14) What is the difference between traditional and laser-assisted liposuction?

Traditional liposuction is a two-step procedure. In traditional liposuction, an incision is made, and tumescent solution is inserted. During traditional liposuction, a cannula or medical straw is inserted under your skin, and fat is removed.
Laser-assisted liposuction is a three-step procedure. During laser-assisted liposuction, tumescent solution is inserted just like traditional liposuction. However, during laser-assisted liposuction, an extra step is required between tumescent liposuction injection and liposuction. During laser-assisted liposuction, a small laser is inserted underneath the skin. The laser then melts the fat cells. Then, just like traditional liposuction, the fat is removed with suction through a cannula. Therefore, laser-assisted liposuction entails an extra step to melt the fat.

15) How long do I need to take off work after liposuction?

After liposuction, you should take one to two weeks from a sitting job. After liposuction, you should take 2 to 3 weeks off from a job that requires significant physical activity.

16) Can liposuction help with weight loss?

Yes, liposuction can help a little with weight loss. Liposuction can help to remove stubborn fat pockets. These removed fat cells do weigh something, but not much. Liposuction should not be viewed as a weight loss surgery but as a surgery to remove isolated pockets of fat. Also, liposuction can remove stubborn fat and allow you allow you to be physically able to exercise better. Liposuction can also motivate you to see results that are difficult to achieve just with diet and exercise.

17) What should I expect during the liposuction consultation?

During your liposuction consultation, your chosen plastic surgeon will evaluate you and determine if you are a good candidate for liposuction. Your candidacy will be based on your past medical history, past surgical history, medications, and allergies. The decision will be based on a thorough physical by your chosen plastic surgeon. Your areas of concern will be examined, and a determination will be made to see if they would be best treated with liposuction. You and your chosen plastic surgeon may also discuss liposuction's potential risks and complications. Often, pictures are taken. The cost will be discussed if you are a good candidate for liposuction surgery.

If the cost is acceptable, you can book a date for liposuction surgery. After a day has been set for your liposuction surgery, appropriate medical tests will be ordered.

18) Is liposuction painful?

Liposuction can be performed under IV, twilight, epidural, or general anesthesia. Typically, liposuction is not painful during the procedure. After liposuction, you will have some mild pain, which is usually treated with Tylenol or low-dose painkillers. Compared to other types of surgery, liposuction is not that painful.

19) What is the ideal body mass index (BMI) for liposuction?

The ideal body mass index for liposuction is less than 30. Ideally, plastic surgeons want their patients to undergo plastic surgery when their BMI is less than 30. However, BMI is just a single number. BMI should be taken into consideration of your past medical history and weight loss history. There are exceptions to patients having liposuction with a higher BMI. Consideration to undergo liposuction with a higher BMI is determined by you and your chosen plastic surgeon. A BMI over 30 does not automatically disqualify you from liposuction.

20) Can liposuction tighten loose skin?

In general, traditional liposuction does not tighten loose skin. During liposuction, the supporting layer to the skin is removed. Because the skin loses its supportive network, the skin becomes loose. Typically, the skin can contract a little bit. However, the garment helps facilitate the skin sticking to the underlying tissue. Of all the types of liposuction, VASER liposuction has the most promising results when it comes to skin tightness. VASER liposuction helps to melt the fat, heat the skin, and maximize skin contractility.

21) Are there dietary restrictions before liposuction?

Approximately two weeks before liposuction, you should eat a high-protein diet of 80 to 100 g of protein. There are certain herbs, fruits, supplements, and vitamins that you should avoid before your liposuction surgery. Some medications need to be stopped at least one month before surgery. Your chosen plastic surgeon should provide a list of medications to avoid before liposuction surgery.

22) How can I prepare for successful liposuction recovery?

You must hydrate after your liposuction procedure. It would be best if you planned to drink up to a gallon of water a day. You should continue this amount of water intake for about one week. It would help if you also tried drinking at least 80 to 100 g of protein daily after your liposuction procedure. Also, it is important to rest after your liposuction surgery. Once your plastic surgeon clears you, you will be allowed to shower. Usually, light exercise is allowed two to three weeks after your liposuction procedure.

At approximately four weeks, you should be 50% capacity in terms of exercise capacity; at six weeks, you should be 75% capacity in terms of exercise capacity; and at eight weeks, you should be 100% capacity in terms of exercise capacity.

23) Can liposuction treat stubborn fat that doesn't respond to diet and exercise?

Yes, liposuction is perfect for treating isolated stubborn fat pockets not responsive to diet exercise. For some reason, there are pockets of fat in the body that do not respond to exercise and diet. Plastic surgeons still don't know the reason why. However, these areas of stubborn fat can be permanently eliminated with liposuction.

24) What is the difference between local anesthesia and general anesthesia for liposuction?

Local anesthesia numbs a particular area of your body. General anesthesia numbs your entire body. Under local anesthesia, you will have areas of pain outside the area that is not anesthetized. With general anesthesia, you do not feel anything; there are no areas that are not anesthetized. Also, with local anesthesia, there is a limit on how much local anesthesia can be given. With general anesthesia, there is no limit to the amount of anesthesia. Local anesthesia limits the amount of fat removed during a particular liposuction session. If the maximum level of local anesthesia is reached before the goal of fat to be removed is reached, your plastic surgeon may have to stop liposuction surgery. Therefore, to achieve the best pain-free liposuction results, general anesthesia is recommended by most plastic surgeons.

25) Can liposuction be performed on multiple areas in one session?

Yes, liposuction can be performed on multiple areas in one session. However, it is vital to remember that ideal liposuction patients target specific areas of fat deposition. If you can only remove a certain amount of fat, such as 5 L, you may be restricted by the number of areas that receive liposuction. Therefore, if you have 5 L of fat on your abdomen and want your abdomen, love handles, inner thighs, arms, and back liposuctioned, you will not get all the 5 L removed from your abdomen; you will only get some of the fat removed from the abdomen. If you have multiple areas that need to be addressed, consider two or three liposuction sessions for targeted areas of fat removal.

26) How noticeable will the scarring be after liposuction?

Liposuction scars are minimal. Liposuction scars are usually less than 1 cm. Incisions are made during liposuction to allow the insertion of a liposuction cannula to remove fat. Usually, liposuction incisions (and thus, resulting scars) are placed below reasonable bikini lines and in your armpits to conceal the appearance of the scar. To minimize the appearance of a liposuction scar, multiple silicone-based skin creams and lotions can be applied. If you are concerned about your liposuction scars, a Fraxel laser can also be applied to minimize scarring. If all else fails, usually, the liposuction scar can be surgically revised.

27) Are there any age-related considerations for liposuction?

No, there are no age-related considerations for liposuction. You can still undergo liposuction if you are older and have no medical contraindications. However, if you have contraindications to surgery due to pre-existing medical conditions at any age, you should not have liposuction.
Therefore, elderly patients without medical can undergo liposuction, whereas younger patients with medical contraindications cannot.

28) What is the recommended age to undergo liposuction?

Most patients should be at least 21 years old before undergoing liposuction. Liposuction may be a great technique if you have areas of fat deposition, especially in your abdomen and love handles. However, at any age, I still recommend diet and exercise.

29) Can liposuction address post-pregnancy fat deposits?

Liposuction can address post-pregnancy fat deposits. If you were considering liposuction after pregnancy, I would suggest you wait at least nine months after your pregnancy to consider liposuction. After pregnancy and delivery, the female body goes through many hormone changes. These hormone changes can affect fat and fat loss. Therefore, you may not need liposuction on certain parts after pregnancy because the fat may disappear. In addition, if you are breastfeeding during your liposuction procedure, you should consider banking your breast milk in the fridge or even waiting to have liposuction until you stop breastfeeding.

30) How can I maintain the results of liposuction over time?

After liposuction, you must continue to eat right and exercise. A high protein, low carbohydrate, and minimal sugar diet combined with as much exercise as possible will help maintain your liposuction results. Liposuction is not a ticket to slack off and start eating poorly again. Liposuction removes isolated areas of fat and helps you reset your body.

31) What is the cost difference between liposuction for small and large areas?

Cost differentials between small and large areas of liposuction depend entirely on your chosen plastic surgeon. Different plastic surgeons charge differently for each additional area. Sometimes, there is a flat rate. Sometimes, there is a discounted rate for multiple areas. So, if you were considering liposuction in several areas, discuss these areas with your chosen plastic surgeon.

32) Are there any restrictions on clothing after liposuction?

It is essential to wear your compression garment after liposuction. A medical-grade compression garment provides an even distribution of pressure over the areas that have just undergone liposuction. This garment will provide optimal results. The clothing that you wear over the garment should be loose. This overlying clothing should not be constricting. If you wear constrictive clothes on top of your garment, this could lead to indentations and irregularities in areas of liposuction. Therefore, wear loose clothes over your compression garment after liposuction.

33) Can liposuction help with fat reduction in the face and neck?

Yes, liposuction can help reduce fat in the face and neck. Liposuction of the face and neck are areas that often undergo liposuction. Small hidden incisions are made behind the chin and behind the earlobes to access the neck. Neck liposuction can give you a chisel neckline with a well-defined 90° neckline. The face is accessed for liposuction by placing an incision in the hairline. Facial liposuction can achieve a chiseled face by removing fat in the cheeks.

34) What factors can affect the outcome of liposuction?

Several factors influence the final liposuction outcome. It is essential to wear your garment. It is crucial to maintain a healthy diet and exercise. It is vital to have lymphatic massage. Usually, lymphatic massage can be initiated approximately 2 to 3 weeks after the liposuction procedure.

35) How long do I need to wait to see the final liposuction results?

Several factors affect seeing your final results after liposuction. Compared to traditional liposuction, more aggressive liposuction treatments (like the VASER) lead to longer recovery times. Generally, more extensive fat removal leads to longer healing times. A patient who has one liter of fat removed with liposuction will heal faster than a patient who has five liters of fat removed. If you have a small, isolated area of liposuction, which takes approximately one hour to complete, you should see your final results in four to six weeks. However, if you had a VASER liposuction procedure, which lasted three hours and took over five liters of fat, your recovery will be longer; in this case, your recovery may take up to eight weeks to see the final results. Therefore, final results vary from patient to patient and are technique and patient dependent.

36) Does health insurance cover liposuction?

Liposuction is not covered by health insurance. Liposuction is considered to be a cosmetic procedure by health insurance. The only time liposuction is covered by health insurance for rare conditions, like lipedema and lymphedema.

37) Can liposuction improve the appearance of stretch marks?

Liposuction does not improve the appearance of stretch marks. Stretch marks are when the skin is stretched and the collagen fibers break. Then, sometimes, the area of breakdown loses pigment. During liposuction, fat is removed from just underneath the skin.

If fat is removed under a stretch mark, it does not affect the appearance of the stretch mark. The stretch mark may shrink during the involution or contraction of the skin after liposuction, but it is just ever so slight.
Compared to liposuction, a tummy tuck may be a better way to remove stretch marks.

38) What's the difference between liposuction and a body lift?

Liposuction is just the removal of fat from isolated areas of your body. A body lift is a tummy tuck, pubic lift/reduction, hip lift/reduction, and buttock lift/reduction. A body lift incision extends entirely around your body, like a belt. Excess fat and skin are removed from the lower torso during a body lift. Therefore, liposuction only removes fat, whereas skin and fat from around your entire torso are removed during a body lift. A body lift is sometimes called a 360 circumferential lower body lift. A form of liposuction is called 360 liposuction. However, a 360 body lift and 360 liposuction should not be confused. A 360 body lift is a much more invasive procedure than 360 liposuction.

39) When can I swim after liposuction?

You can swim when the incision sites have closed, and all skin port sites have stopped draining. Typically, the skin sites are closed at approximately two weeks after liposuction.

40) What is tumescent fluid?

Tumescent solution is fluid that is injected into a patient. Tumescent solution is either normal saline or lactated ringers. Both fluids are typically injected into your veins in the hospital. In addition to this fluid, epinephrine is added. Epinephrine causes vasoconstriction and decreases the amount of blood loss. In addition to epinephrine, lidocaine is injected. Lidocaine helps minimize the pain both during and after the liposuction procedure. Both epinephrine and lidocaine are added to the normal saline or lactated ringers. This mixture is called tumescent solution and is injected into the patient just before the fat is removed with suction. Tumescent solution makes liposuction more efficient because it minimizes bleeding and pain. Tumescent solution floats the fat and makes it easier for the liposuction cannula to remove fat permanently.

41) Should I have a tummy tuck or liposuction first, and why?

If you are considering whether to have liposuction or a tummy tuck first, the decision depends on your anatomy. You will probably do best with a tummy tuck if you have significant excess abdominal skin. If you do not have stretch marks, are younger than 40 years old, and do not have loose abdominal skin, you may do best with abdominal liposuction. If you have liposuction after a tummy tuck, this will not harm your tummy tuck results. However, liposuction after a tummy tuck could cause some loose skin on top of your tummy tuck.

In addition, you can have liposuction after a tummy tuck. Scar tissue left over from liposuction does not prohibit you from having a tummy tuck.

42) Should I have liposuction before or after childbirth?

The decision to have liposuction before or after childbirth is up to you. You can have liposuction before childbirth and or after childbirth. If you have liposuction before childbirth, you must realize that your body will change during pregnancy. If you want to undergo liposuction after childbirth, I would wait at least nine months after delivering your child for your hormones to balance and normal swelling to subside.

43) Can men get liposuction?

Men can undoubtedly get liposuction. Indeed, the most common plastic surgery procedure men seek is liposuction. In some plastic surgeon's practices, most of their patients are men seeking liposuction, especially VASER hi-def liposuction.

6-Pack Abs in a Day! VASER Hi Definition Liposuction - Dr. Katzen Surgery

44) Does liposuction tighten your ab muscles?

Liposuction does not necessarily tighten your ab muscles. Liposuction removes the fat around your rectus abdominis muscles. VASER high-definition liposuction of your abs can help to accentuate and reveal underlying muscle structure. Therefore, VASER high-definition liposuction does not tighten your abs but makes your abs appear more muscular.

45) Can liposuction treat gynecomastia in men?

Yes, liposuction can be used to treat gynecomastia in men. Gynecomastia is the development of female breast tissue in the male chest. The breast tissue can be hard glandular and soft fatty tissue. The VASER liposuction technique is an excellent choice for correcting gynecomastia in men.

46) Can liposuction treat cellulite?

Liposuction does not treat cellulite. Cellulite results from the constriction of vertical bands of scar between the dermis and the underlying fascia. This contraction causes an indentation of the skin. The best cellulite treatment is to cut these vertical bands. During liposuction, some of these vertical bands are accidentally cut. However, in general, liposuction removes fat under the skin. Fat removal with liposuction will not change the vertical scar bands. Indeed, by removing fat, liposuction can worsen cellulite in some areas.

47) How long before I can resume sexual activities after liposuction?

You should plan to avoid sexual activities for approximately two weeks after liposuction. If you still experience pain during sexual activities, you should wait even longer.

48) Can liposuction be used to treat a buffalo hump?

Yes, liposuction can be used to treat a buffalo hump. A buffalo hump is a localized area of fat on your upper back and close to your neck. The VASER technique is an excellent choice when treating the buffalo hump.

49) Can liposuction be used to treat a lipoma?

A lipoma is a benign tumor of fat. A lipoma is a localized area of fat cells. Usually, a lipoma has a casing or a layer around the cells. Liposuction is not an optimal treatment for a lipoma. Lipomas should be removed in their entirety, including their shell. Usually, liposuction removes only the inside of the lipomas, not the shell. Therefore, the best treatment for lipoma is direct excision by removing the envelope and the benign fatty tumor cells inside the shell.

50) What are the common misconceptions about liposuction?

The most common misconception about liposuction is that liposuction is not needed and all you need to do is exercise. Some patients exercise all the time and barely eat anything, and still, they have localized areas of fat. This is where liposuction can come to the rescue and permanently eliminate pockets of fat. Therefore, not all areas of fat respond to diet and exercise. Another misconception of liposuction is that the fat can never return to an area that had liposuction. This idea is not valid. If you do not care for your body after liposuction, the fat can return to that area of liposuction, and you are back to square one. Another misconception is that liposuction is a weight loss surgery.

Liposuction is a procedure performed to remove pockets of fat. Even though fat does weigh something, liposuction is not necessarily a weight-loss procedure. Weight loss procedures, like the vertical gastric sleeve and Roux-en-Y gastric bypass, are usually much more invasive and are designed for drastic weight loss. Liposuction is highly effective in removing isolated pockets of not; liposuction is not designed for massive weight loss. Another misconception is that liposuction is for everyone; liposuction is not for everybody, and some patients either need to lose more weight or more aggressive procedures like a tummy tuck of 360 lower body lift. Another misconception is that all patients achieve perfect results. Patients must realize the limits of liposuction and have realistic expectations.

In general, liposuction is a safe procedure that can achieve spectacular results for the appropriate patient. If you have further questions regarding liposuction or are ready for a new body, please call Dr. Katzen's office at (310) 859-7770 to schedule an appointment and surgery date.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.