Liposuction, sometimes called liposculpture, is the removal of fat from a deep layer below the skin. It can be performed on almost any part of the body.

Fast Facts

  • Liposuction should never be considered a way to lose a large amount of weight.
  • Liposuction only treats fat cells deep below the surface of the skin. It does not remove cellulite.
  • Skin usually shrinks to fit it's new size after liposuction, in rare cases it may not shrink back.
  • Usually liposuction is performed under a local anaesthetic.
  • During the procedure, liquid is injected into the area to be treated to expand the fat compartments, making it easier to remove the fat.

In 2010 this cosmetic procedure was ranked the second most popular in Australia, next to breast augmentation. Both women and men elect to have this procedure.

Reasons for choosing to have liposuction

Liposuction should never be considered a way to lose a large amount of weight. It is, however, a good way to get rid of small amounts of fat that cannot be lost through diet and exercise.

Some people want to sculpt areas of their bodies to look more like the figures they once had. Many just want to improve their looks. Stomach, buttocks, hips, thighs, breasts, neck, arms and knees are popular sites for liposuction.

Unless a person gains a significant amount of weight, fat usually doesn’t grow back in any area that has been treated.

Things to consider once you’ve decided to have liposuction

Depending on how much fat is taken from the body, people who have had liposuction should expect to weigh slightly less than they did before the procedure. Removed fat cells usually won’t grow back.  If you regain weight after liposuction, relatively less fat will accumulate in the treated areas, but may accumulate in untreated ones. It is important to understand this and have a realistic understanding that fat may grow in other areas of the body.

Liposuction only treats fat cells deep below the surface of the skin. It does not remove cellulite. Often the skin is slacker after liposuction than it was before, and the appearance of cellulite can be worse. Cellulite is the layer of fat closest to the skin. There are a myriad of ways it can be treated so that its appearance is improved, but it is rare that cellulite can be removed altogether.

Skin usually shrinks to fit it’s new size after liposuction, in rare cases it may not shrink back. If necessary, excess skin can be removed surgically. Some surgeons treat the underside of the skin with lasers to help the skin tighten as fat is being removed.

What to expect

The time it takes to perform liposuction depends on the area treated and amount of fat to be removed. You can choose to have a local or general anaesthetic. Usually liposuction is performed under a local, but your surgeon will help you decide which is best in your case.

During the procedure, liquid is injected into the area to be treated to expand the fat compartments, making it easier to remove the fat. This liquid also acts as an anaesthetic. The method of injecting liquid prior to performing liposuction is called tumescent liposuction.

After the liquid is injected, small incisions are made in the areas to be treated. A thin hollow tube (cannula) is inserted through the incisions to loosen the fat. The fat is then suctioned out using a surgical vacuum.

When your liposuction procedure is complete, you should expect to be slightly swollen and bruised in the treated areas. The bruising usually diminishes within the week. Because of the swelling, the end result of the liposuction may not be obvious immediately after surgery. It can sometimes take up to 6 months to fully subside. Most liposuction patients return to normal activities after 2 weeks and to vigorous exercise after a month.

Liposuction is usually performed on an outpatient basis, which means that you will most likely be sent home several hours after you’ve recovered from the anaesthesia.

Before and after surgery

There are several things you can do leading up to any kind of surgery to improve the experience.

Before the liposuction procedure you may need to buy compression garments to keep post-operative swelling and bruising down. Your surgeon will advise you of what you need prior to surgery.

There are also some things you can do following any type of surgery.

Possible risks and complications

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in having liposuction. You should be fully aware of these before deciding to have the surgery. Finding a practitioner who is fully qualified and experienced in performing liposuction is a great start to reducing risk.

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the list of complications that could arise as a result of any surgery.

Contour irregularities such as fat bulges can occur after liposuction if too much or not enough fat has been removed.

Rough costs involved

Practitioner, anaesthetist and hospital costs will vary. Also, the area being treated and amount of fat to be removed is a big factor. Chin liposuction can cost anywhere between $3000 and $5000 and abdominal liposuction can cost between $4000 and $6000 (AUD). Some private health insurers in Australia may help with hospital bed and theatre fees. Having a doctor’s referral will enable you to claim some of this cost.

You should expect the costs to be higher if you are having combined procedures at the same time.

Read our article What Does Liposuction Cost in Australia for more detailed information on all costs associated with liposuction.

This information is correct as of 2019.

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