This website is intended to provide you with general information only. This information is not a substitute for advice from your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and does not contain all the known facts about this procedure or every possible side effect of surgery. It is important that you speak to your surgeon before deciding to undergo surgery. If you are not sure about the benefits, risks and limitations of treatment, or anything else relating to your procedure, ask your surgeon to explain. Patient information provided as part of this website is evidence-based, and sourced from a range of reputable information providers including the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Better Health Channel and Mi-tec medical publishing.
Liposuction, also known as lipectomy or lipoplasty, is a procedure that improves the body’s contours and proportion by removing excess fat deposits to slim and reshape specific areas of the body. Common areas targeted include thighs, buttocks, abdomen, arms, neck and under the chin.
Liposuction is invasive surgery that aims to improve the body’s contours and proportion by removing localised and disproportional deposits of fat. Liposuction can remove up to 5 litres of fat with relative safety during one session. Depending on the number of areas that require treatment, repeated treatments may be necessary.
Specific techniques of liposuction include:
Liposuction is an individualised procedure and may not be suitable for everyone. Always talk to your Specialist Plastic Surgeon before making a decision. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will assess your condition and general health, and plan the treatment that is best suited to you.
Liposuction may be suitable for you if:
Liposuction is most likely to be successful for healthy weight people with firm, elastic skin who have pockets of excess fat in certain areas. Although age is not a significant concern, older people may have less skin elasticity and may not achieve the same results as a younger person with tighter skin.
Before opting for liposuction, you must keep in mind that:
Depending on the procedure and the amount of fat removed, liposuction can take place under either local or general anaesthesia. If only a small amount of fat and a limited number of body sites are involved, liposuction can be performed under local anaesthesia, which numbs only the affected areas. For large volumes of fat, general anaesthesia is commonly used.
Modern anaesthesia is safe and effective, but does have some risks. Ask your Specialist Plastic Surgeon and anaesthetist for more information. Your surgeon and/or anaesthetist will ask you about all the medications you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have. Make sure you have an up to date list before the surgery.
Modern surgery is generally safe but does have the potential for risks and complications to occur. The risks of liposuction increase if a large number of body areas are treated at the same time or if the areas operated on are large in size.
Some of the possible complications and risks associated with liposuction may include:
Liposuction can be performed in either an accredited day surgery or a hospital, depending on your general health and the extent of the procedure. A short hospital stay may be required in some instances. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will advise on the best option for you.
Before undergoing surgery, it is important that you:
You will also be asked to provide a complete medical history for your Specialist Plastic Surgeon including any health problems you have had, any medication you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have.
You may be advised to stop taking certain medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, and medicines that contain aspirin. You may also be asked to stop taking naturopathic substances such as garlic, ginkgo, ginseng and St John’s Wort as they may affect clotting and anaesthesia. Always tell your surgeon EVERYTHING you are taking.
You may be given medicines to take before the surgery, such as antibiotics.
Your surgeon will also advise you if any other tests are required, such as blood tests, X-ray examinations or an Electrocardiograph (ECG) to assess your heart.
Prepare a “recovery area” in your home. This may include pillows, ice packs, a thermometer and a telephone within easy reach. Make sure you arrange for a relative or friend to drive you to and from the hospital or clinic. Someone should also stay with you for at least 24 hours after you return home.
Your surgeon should give detailed preoperative instructions. Follow them carefully.
Following your surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions. You may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and to support your operation site as it heals. A small, thin tube may also be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
Depending on the extent of your procedure, you may need to take a few days off work to rest. Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, swimming and strenuous sports until advised by your surgeon.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, notify your surgeon immediate:
Your surgeon will give you specific instructions on post-operative care. These instructions may include:
Be sure to ask your surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period, such as:
Scars are an inevitable part of any invasive surgery. Your Specialist Plastic Surgeon will endeavour to minimise scarring and to keep your scars as inconspicuous as possible by locating the incisions in easily hidden sites. That way, scars will be along natural skin lines and creases. Scars may fade with time and become barely noticeable over time.
In most circumstances, liposuction does not need to be repeated. Usually, the ‘extra’ skin will contract (tighten) after the procedure. However, as with all surgical procedures, revisional surgery may be necessary to correct minor irregularities. In some cases, a procedure to remove excess skin may also be needed.
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for individual procedures can vary widely between Specialist Plastic Surgeons. Some factors that may influence the cost include the surgeon’s experience, the type of procedure used and the geographic location of the office.
Costs associated with the procedure may include:
Your surgeon should welcome any questions you may have regarding fees.
Visit the Plastic Surgery Glossary for more medical terms.