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What Is Liposuction?

Liposuction slims and reshapes specific areas of the body by removing excess fat deposits and improving the body's contours and proportion. Liposuction can be performed on the following areas:

  • Abdomen
  • Ankles
  • Back
  • Buttocks
  • Calves
  • Chest area
  • Chin
  • Hips
  • Inner knees
  • Neck
  • Thighs
  • Upper arms
  • Waist

Liposuction can be performed by itself or in conjunction with other plastic surgery procedures such as:


Contact the UPMC Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center

To schedule a consultation at the UPMC Aesthetic Plastic Surgery Center:


Is Liposuction Right for Me?

If you have excess fat deposits that are not responding to diet or exercise, liposuction may be an alternative for you. Liposuction is not a treatment for obesity.

Generally, liposuction candidates are adults who:

  • Have firm, elastic skin
  • Have good muscle tone
  • Are within 30% of their ideal weight

Candidates must also be healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical condition that can impair healing after surgery.

Before the Procedure

The success and safety of your liposuction procedure depend on your honesty during the consultation with your surgeon. You'll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires, and lifestyle, and you should be prepared to discuss your reasons for having the surgery, your expectations, and your desired outcome.

Some of the specific instructions you'll receive about preparing for surgery include:

  • Medications to avoid
  • Proper washing techniques
  • Restrictions regarding eating and drinking the night before surgery
  • Smoking cessation
  • When to take your prescribed medications

Procedure Details

The surgeon will make small, inconspicuous incisions and insert a thin hollow tube called a cannula to remove excess fat. Some of the instruments have sound waves that facilitate the fat tissue removal. The doctors will inject sterile IV fluid containing local anesthetic and adrenaline to decrease the possibility of bleeding and postoperative discomfort.

Your improved body contour will be noticeable after the swelling and fluid retention subsides. Liposuction's results will remain as long as you maintain a healthy diet and fitness regimen. Substantial weight gain, however, can reduce or reverse the surgery's results.

Types of Liposuction

There are three main types of liposuction: tumescent, ultrasonic, and laser-assisted.

During tumescent liposuction, lidocaine and epinephrine are injected into the subcutaneous fat, which is the body's deepest layer of fat. Large quantities of lidocaine are administered to stiffen target areas, and the epinephrine prevents bleeding during the procedure.

Ultrasonic-assisted liposuction uses ultrasound energy to loosen excess fatty tissues. Once loosened, the plastic surgeon can easily remove the tissue.

Like ultrasonic-assisted liposuction, laser-assisted liposuction makes use of laser beams to remove fatty tissues. This type of liposuction can be done as outpatient surgery and tends to have shorter recovery periods compared to other forms of liposuction.

Where Do I Go to Have the Procedure?

Liposuction is usually done in a hospital as outpatient surgery, and you will have to be driven to and from the hospital by a friend or family member.

Type of Anesthesia

Your doctor will recommend the best type of anesthesia for you, but intravenous sedation or general anesthesia are typically used.

Recovery After Liposuction

In most cases, the pain associated with liposuction is controlled with oral pain medication. At the end of the procedure, a compression garment is commonly applied to the target area and is worn for several weeks. Your surgeon will give you specific instructions about:

  • The compression garment
  • Normal increased progression of activity
  • What activities should be avoided immediately following surgery

Depending on your profession, you can expect to return to work within two to five days.

Anticipated Results

As the swelling from the surgery subsides, you will begin to see improvements in the first six weeks after surgery. Controlling your weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you stay satisfied with the results of the procedure.

Risks and Safety

In addition to the risks associated with anesthesia, other risks of liposuction can include:

  • Bleeding
  • Excess bruising
  • Skin numbness and tingling (which is usually temporary and lasts only a few weeks)
  • Slight skin discoloration
  • Swelling

Additionally, you may have asymmetrical, wavy, or irregular skin. Liposuction may not improve the appearance of cellulite.

Not every person is a candidate for liposuction, and your risks may be greater or different than those of other patients. Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to the surgery.

Insurance and Financing

Health insurance rarely covers the cost of elective medical procedures. Call 1-877-639-9688 to discuss alternative payment options with UPMC experts.

Patient Experiences and Stories

UPMC experts have extensive experience performing plastic surgery services like liposuction. Read about Yolanda's journey with UPMC's Life After Weight Loss Program.