Liposuction: Uses, benefits, and risks

Liposuction, also called lipoplasty, liposculpture suction, lipectomy, or lipo, is a type of cosmetic surgery that breaks up and “sucks” fat from the body.

It is often used on the abdomen, thighs, buttocks, neck, chin, upper and backs of the arms, calves, and back.

The fat is removed through a hollow instrument, known as a cannula. This is inserted under the skin. A powerful, high-pressure vacuum is applied to the cannula.

Liposuction is the most common cosmetic operation in the United States. More than 300,000 procedures are carried out in the United States each year with costs ranging from roughly $2,000-3,500.

Fast facts on liposuction

Here are some key points about liposuction. More detail is in the main article.

The operation is normally carried out under general anesthesia.

Liposuction is not a weight-loss tool but a cosmetic procedure with subtle effects.

Risks include infection and scarring

Liposuction can be used to treat some medical conditions.

What is liposuction?

[Woman showing off cellulite]
Liposuction is not an overall weight-loss method.

People who undergo liposuction usually have a stable body weight but would like to remove undesirable deposits of body fat in specific parts of the body.

Liposuction is not an overall weight-loss method. It is not a treatment for obesity.

The procedure does not remove cellulite, dimples, or stretch marks. The aim is esthetic. It suits those who wish to change and enhance the contour of their body.

Liposuction permanently removes fat cells, altering the shape of the body. However, if the patient does not lead a healthy lifestyle after the operation, there is a risk that the remaining fat cells will grow bigger.

The amount of fat that can be safely removed is limited.

There are some risks, including infection, numbness, and scarring. If too much fat is removed, there may be lumpiness or dents in the skin. The surgical risks appear to be linked to the amount of fat removed.

[Man pinching fat]
Liposuction is cosmetic rather than health-focused.

abdomen

back

buttocks

chest

inner knees

hips

flanks (love handles)

neckline and the area under the chin

thighs, both “saddlebags,” or outer thighs, and inner thighs

upper arms

Liposuction works best for people with good skin tone and elasticity, where the skin molds itself into new contours.

People whose skin lacks elasticity may end up with loose-looking skin in areas where the procedure was done.

The person needs to be over 18 years of age and in good health. Those with circulation or blood flow problems, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune systems should not undergo liposuction.

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Benefits

Liposuction is normally done for cosmetic purposes, but it is sometimes used to treat certain conditions.

These include:

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