Liposuction has been one of the top ten cosmetic surgical procedures for over a decade now. How much does liposuction cost in Australia? The answer depends on many factors, including the area or the number of areas of the body that need treatment, the surgeon and the surgical facility, to name just a few.
- Liposuction is sometimes called lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy.
- There are limits to how many areas of the body can be treated by liposuction in one single procedure.
- Cost is driven by the number of areas (more areas = greater cost), the surgeon and whether it is performed in a hospital or not.
The specific method of liposuction that your surgeon uses can also be a factor in determining the cost. This article should help you understand the full costs of liposuction in Australia.
Liposuction Cost in Australia
This depends on how many areas on the body are to be treated in one go:
- One area of the body – Between $3,000 – 5,000 (AUD)
- Two areas of the body – Between $5,000 – 6,500 (AUD)
- Three areas of the body – Between $6,500 – 8,000 (AUD)
- Four, five or six areas – within the range of $9,500 (AUD) to $ 15,000 (AUD)
What is an Area?
We often are asked – is an area one arm or two arms? Fortunately we are happy to say it is both arms! So an area would be, the arms, love handles, thighs, stomach etc.
Common areas requested for liposuction include:
- Stomach / tummy
- Upper Arms (sometimes an arm lift / brachioplasty is required for better results)
- Thighs – inner and/or outer thighs (see also thigh lift surgery)
- Love handles / flanks
- Buttocks (see also buttock augmentation surgery)
- Back – upper or lower
- Face / chin
- Male breasts / man boobs (can also require surgery due to gynaecomastia)
- Calves / lower leg
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes body fat deposits and helps contour various areas of the body. It is particularly effective in removing stubborn pockets of fat that do not respond to exercise or dieting, such as fatty deposits in the abdomen, hips, thighs, buttocks, legs and waist. Women commonly request liposuction on their abdomen, chest and love handles. Arms, chin and jowls and the inner thighs are areas that men want treated.
Liposuction is sometimes called lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy. It is among the top five most popular cosmetic surgical procedures in the world right now. Industry sources estimate that liposuction may account for a quarter of all cosmetic surgical procedures performed in Australia.
As popular or common as it may be, it is difficult to find the exact costs of liposuction without visiting a surgeon. The Australian Medical strictly regulates the way medical and surgical procedures can be marketed, especially with regard to costs. Medical service providers, including surgeons, are bound by these Guidelines, which discourage advertisements containing inexact price information. Advertisements that give a price and then list conditions or variables that can change that price are also discouraged.
Because each individual’s needs and requirements are different, it is impossible for a surgeon to advertise a specific cost for any cosmetic procedure. Giving a ballpark figure or a range of the costs for a liposuction procedure can mean trouble for surgeons. This is why you rarely see surgeon’s websites, brochures or advertisements giving any indication about the full and complete costs of liposuction.
If you want to find out the real costs of liposuction in any city in Australia, your best option is to consult a surgeon who performs liposuction. You may also want to get a second opinion from a second surgeon before settling on your choice of surgeon and facility for the procedure.
What makes up the total cost of liposuction?
The total cost of liposuction can be broken into a number of components:
- Surgeon’s fees
- Assistant surgeon’s fees
- Anaesthetist’s fees
- Hospital and theatre costs
- Follow up visits for a given period
Liposuction costs, as with the costs of most other cosmetic surgeries, are usually given as one figure that includes all of the above without a breakdown.
Almost all costs involved in liposuction are dependent on the number of areas of the body that need treatment, and how many hours it’s likely to take.
You can expect liposuction treatment costs to fall within the following ranges:
- One area of the body – Between $ 3,000 – 5,000 (AUD)
- Two areas of the body – Between $ 5,000 – 6,500 (AUD)
- Three areas of the body – Between $ 6,500 – 8,000 (AUD)
If you are expecting to have more areas treated—say four, five or six areas—expect to pay within the range of $ 9,500 (AUD) to $ 15,000 (AUD).
GST must be added to all quoted costs.
You should be aware, however, that there are limits to how many areas of the body can be treated by liposuction in one single procedure. The two main limitations are the amount of local anaesthetic that should be given to a patient at any one time and how much liquefied fat can safely be removed from the body in one operation. We discuss this in more detail under hospital costs.
A liposuction surgeon’s fee usually includes the cost of the procedure, including pre-operative and post-operative care. That means you do not need to pay extra for a specified number of follow-up visits or for follow-up visits during a given period.
Your surgeon should provide you with a detailed breakdown of costs at the initial consultation.
The surgeon’s fee for liposuction depends on the surgeon you choose. The very wide range in fees reflects differences in surgeons’ expertise in liposuction, professional qualifications, experience, professional recognition and popularity. Geography—where the surgeon’s practice is located—also plays a part in determining fees.
Because there are medical doctors not qualified in surgery performing these operations—and often at a discounted price—you should make sure you are choosing a surgeon with the requisite training for your liposuction procedure.
There are surgeons in Australia performing liposuction with equivalent qualifications from countries like the UK, US and Canada. In this case, you should also look at their memberships and affiliations. Read the Costhetics article, Do Your Homework before selecting a surgeon for your liposuction.
In addition to the traditional technique of removing fat tissue, there are laser and ultrasound assisted liposuction methods available in Australia. The specific technique of liposuction that your surgeon will employ also plays a role in determining the costs and time involved. The no-longer-popular “dry” technique led to significant blood loss, as what was removed contained between 20 to 45 percent blood. More modern techniques such as wet, super wet and tumescent liposuction which inject fluid into the area to be subjected to liposuction have reduced the blood loss to less than one percent of what is removed. The wetting solutions and the volumes to be injected into each area during liposuction differ by technique. The components of these fluids typically include a local anaesthetic, epinephrine, water and saline. Epinephrine constricts blood vessels, limiting blood loss and bruising during the liposuction process.
Initial consultation fees
There will be an initial consultation fee when you first see a surgeon regarding liposuction. Consultation fees range between $50 (AUD) to $500 (AUD), depending on the surgeon. If you see more than one surgeon—and you really should, before choosing one—you will probably have to pay this fee for each consultation.
An anaesthetist will only be required if you’re proceeding with liposuction under a general anaesthetic. If you are, then read on.
Fees for the anaesthetist depend on their qualifications. A GP attending you as an anaesthetist during liposuction will likely cost much less than a specialist anaesthetist performing this duty. Anaesthetists, like most other professional medical specialists, do not have a standard scale of fees. However, according to the Australian Society of Anaesthetists, the fee charged by an anaesthetist is determined by the Medical Benefits Schedule (MBS) number or the Relative Value Guide (RVG) number.
Why should you want a qualified anaesthetist? The doctor attending to you at your liposuction keeps guard over your life and vital functions during the procedure. You want a qualified person who knows the ins and outs of anaesthesia, trouble shooting and potential risks keeping looking after you. Besides safety, your anaesthetist will also be a factor in making sure of your comfort both during and after the procedure.
For cosmetic procedures the hourly charge for an anaesthetist is in the range of $600-650 AUD. Liposuction can take many hours, depending on how many areas need treatment. So you can expect the anaesthetist’s fee to also increase accordingly with time.
Most surgeons will only use a qualified anaesthetist, and their fees far exceed the fee charged by a regular doctor performing the same duty.
Hospital fees vary significantly from facility to facility. Most hospitals or day surgery facilities charge on an hourly basis, with the charge covering theatre fees, possible accommodation and sundries. For an hour, hospital fees can start at around $750 (AUD) and can have a wide variation, sometimes going thousands of dollars over this figure.
To ensure your safety during and after the procedure, make sure your surgeon uses an accredited facility with well-trained staff and high standards. Most reputable surgeons will only use such facilities for your liposuction procedure.
The key element of hospital fees is the operating theatre fee. How much you need to pay will depend on how many areas will be subjected to liposuction, and how long those procedures are likely to last. Once you and your surgeon agree on the number of areas that will be treated at a time, you will have a clearer idea of what your hospital fees are likely to be.
Liposuction is usually performed as day surgery without an overnight stay. What is usually quoted as a hospital fee is the cost of a day procedure, the hours you spend in the actual operation theatre and the time it takes for you to recover from anaesthesia if you’ve had a general or sedation if you’ve opted to be awake during the procedure.
The aspirate—the fat tissue to be removed—also plays a role in determining your hospital fees. If more than 5,000 ml of aspirate—over five litres—are to be removed, then the liposuction requires extra care. In fact, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons has recommended that such large-volume liposuction be performed at an acute care hospital. That is a type of facility where post-operative vital signs and urinary output can be monitored overnight. All other liposuction procedures can be performed as day surgery. If an overnight stay is needed, that cost will be additional.
 Haeck PC, Swanson JA, Gutowski KA, Basu CB, Wandel AG, Damitz LA, Reisman NR, Baker SB, ASPS Patient Safety Committee. Review Evidence-based patient safety advisory: liposuction. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2009 Oct; 124(4 Suppl):28S-44S.
Time plays a key role in liposuction costs
Liposuction is a time-consuming procedure. We’ve heard one surgeon describe the process as trying to vacuum your house with a toothbrush. Depending on the number of areas to be treated, your liposuction will take between one and five hours.
Are costs of liposuction covered by insurance?
Medicare reimbursements cover only costs of medically necessary procedures. Medicare does not cover costs of cosmetic surgery. In most cases liposuction is treated as a purely cosmetic procedure and is not covered.
Whether your private insurance fund covers the costs of liposuction depends on the type of cover you have. Some policies may cover the hospital fees and some other costs. Whatever elements are not covered by private insurance will be out-of-pocket payments for you. Before having the operation, therefore, be sure to clarify with your insurance fund what exactly is and is not covered.
We hope that this article gives you a better idea of the costs involved in liposuction surgery. We welcome your comments on this article.