What is Liposuction? Everything You Need to Know.
By Christopher Chung, M.D.
American Board of Plastic Surgery
Chief Medical Officer
Are you thinking about getting liposuction?
It’s not an easy decision to make.
When considering liposuction, there are some key things you should know.
Our experts are here to share all the details. Keep on reading for Sono Bello’s definitive guide to liposuction — and learn everything from background information and best practices to tips and tricks for a successful recovery.
What is Liposuction?
Liposuction is an effective cosmetic surgical procedure to remove excess fat deposits from the body — slimming and reshaping specific areas and improving contours and overall proportions.
Despite what many people may think, liposuction is not a weight-loss procedure and is not intended to treat obesity or other weight-related disorders. Liposuction is for fat loss: it can treat stubborn fat that is resistant to diet and exercise.
Nonetheless, for the right motivated patient, liposuction can kickstart a long-term healthier lifestyle, driven by a slimmer, more accentuated figure and a reinstated sense of self-confidence.
Is Liposuction Safe?
Cosmetic surgery across the board is safer and more popular than ever before. But many people still wonder if liposuction in particular is safe. The good news is that we can confidently say liposuction is widely considered a safe and proven procedure.
For context, liposuction has been a common cosmetic procedure since the 1980s. Over the years, improvements in technique and the establishment of specific medical guidelines regarding liposuction have greatly improved the safety of the procedure.
That said, the actual risks of liposuction are minimal because it isn’t particularly invasive. The level of risk will depend on the type of procedure you receive and your personal medical history — so it’s important to be fully transparent with your doctor to get a good idea of all possible risks as well as the likelihood of complications.
Additionally, the skill and ability of your surgeon will afford you the greatest measure of safety and the best possible outcome. By coming to Sono Bello, you benefit from the years of combined training, knowledge, and specialized experience our more than 185 board-certified plastic surgeons provide.
Risks of Liposuction
No surgical procedure is without risk — though for liposuction, these risks tend to be low.
Some post-procedure risks of liposuction include, but are not limited to:
- Blood clots
- Persistent swelling
- Surface irregularities
- Reactions to medication
- Heart and kidney problems
To gain insight on what specific liposuction risks may be relevant to you, it is best to discuss directly with a reputable surgeon.
Who Can Get Liposuction?
To ensure optimal outcomes and promote maximum safety, we take proper patient selection very seriously at Sono Bello. While there aren’t many specific “requirements” for liposuction, there are a few important factors to consider. The ideal Sono Bello patient is:
- At or near their ideal weight (within 30%)
- Body mass index (BMI) of less than 42
- Not seeking overall weight loss — wants highly targeted fat loss
- In good overall health
The good news is that virtually anyone with unwanted fat can benefit from liposuction. There are different types of liposuction procedures, and each one is uniquely tailored to the patient’s individual needs. Explore our different options to learn what might work best for you and your goals.
Who Can’t Get Liposuction?
If you can say “yes” to any of the following, you may not be suited for liposuction at this time:
- BMI over 42
- Pacemaker wearer
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Actively in chemotherapy
- Recent heart attack within five years
- Oxygen tank user
- On an organ transplant waiting list
- Taking blood-thinning medication
- Heart disease
- Kidney or liver disorders
- Surgery in the proposed area in the past six months
To learn more about your specific eligibility, it’s always best to schedule a consultation with a doctor.
Is Liposuction Painful?
Like any other medical or cosmetic surgical procedure, liposuction can cause pain. While we can’t predict or promise the exact amount or type of pain you may experience, we can provide a comprehensive explanation of what patients typically endure during and post-procedure.
Liposuction Pain During the Procedure
At Sono Bello, we use localized awake anesthesia for our liposuction procedures to promote faster recovery and less downtime. This means patients remain conscious during the procedure, receiving anesthesia only in the areas of treatment. This allows the patient to communicate their needs and preferences throughout the procedure, enforcing our commitment to satisfaction and safety.
For patients concerned about being awake during the procedure, medications are provided to assist in their relaxation and comfort. Nonetheless, patients should not expect to feel pain during the procedure because of the anesthesia used.
Liposuction Pain Post-Procedure
During the first few days of your recovery, expect to feel moderate pain and soreness — similar to how you’d feel after a tough workout. Over-the-counter medications can help with this discomfort.
Depending on what you do for work and the procedure you had, you may be able to return to your job within three days of having liposuction.
By two weeks post-op, the pain should reduce significantly. Nonetheless, you should refrain from heavy physical activity and demanding tasks.
By one month post-op, the pain and soreness should subside. At this time, you may resume light exercise. In the weeks following this milestone, any remaining swelling or bruising should disappear. You should not experience any further pain, soreness, or discomfort.
Our medical team works with patients to manage pain issues throughout the recovery period, typically meeting with patients one week, three months, and six months post-procedure to assess results and discuss recovery issues.
What You Should Expect After Having Liposuction
It’s important to prepare for the post-op period after liposuction, and we’re here to tell you exactly what to expect.
First off, your surgeon and the nurse should give you prescriptions for post-op use and instructions for how they want you to use them.
Most people will swell the first two or three days after their liposuction procedure, and then it gradually goes down over time. The area suctioned may be bruised as well. The area can remain firm or even lumpy as the swelling recedes.
Individual healing varies, but most patients end up using their compression devices for at least two months and sometimes even more than six months. Most will start to see procedure results in the first few days to weeks post-op, with a final result seen by six months.
Is Liposuction Permanent?
A common misconception of people considering liposuction is that electing to have liposuction means you are signing up to have repeat procedures. But liposuction does indeed permanently remove fat cells from the body.
A patient goes into the operating room with a certain number of fat cells and leaves with fewer fat cells. Any fat cells removed during liposuction cannot be regained.
Can Fat Return After Liposuction?
It is possible to gain fat back after having liposuction… but it is extremely preventable.
If a patient doesn’t follow post-op best practices, the remaining fat cells in their body can enlarge, potentially impacting progress made from the procedure. Generally, the more weight gained back by a patient post-liposuction, the less dramatic their long-term results will be.
If a patient does gain a significant amount of weight, the areas where they had liposuction are now not the primary problem sites (since the number of fat cells has been permanently reduced).
How Much Fat Can Be Removed During Liposuction?
Each liposuction session may result in a maximum of 4000cc to 5000cc of fat removed. It is not uncommon for some patients to lose 20 to 30 pounds following liposuction with maintenance of a well-balanced healthy lifestyle.
Learn more about the fat and weight you can lose from liposuction in this resource.
Which Body Parts Can Be Treated with Liposuction?
Liposuction can treat various areas of the body — most often several areas in just one procedure.
Each liposuction procedure is different depending on the body part, and ultimately, all procedures are uniquely tailored to each patient’s individual needs to promote the best possible results.
Common Body Parts to Get Liposuction
Liposuction is commonly performed on the following areas:
- Inner/outer thighs
- Upper arms
- Male chest
- Lower/upper back
- Back/front bra roll (BBR)
- Banana roll
- Dorsal hump
Explore our liposuction procedures to learn more about the treatment options for different parts of the body.
How to Prepare for Liposuction
Preparing for liposuction can seem overwhelming or stressful — but it’s a simple and seamless process as long as you follow your doctor’s instructions.
Follow these five common pre-procedure steps to set yourself up for success as you begin your liposuction journey:
- Set realistic expectations.
- Prepare to take some downtime.
- Stop consuming caffeine 48 hours before surgery.
- Equip yourself with the tools to minimize post-op swelling.
- Have a friend or family member drive you home.
Check out more of our liposuction prep tips.
Should You Lose Weight Before Liposuction?
The ideal pre-liposuction weight for you will depend on your unique anatomy and body goals. To promote optimal results, you should be at a stable weight that is close to your goal but still sustainable long-term. It is recommended to be within approximately 30 pounds of your goal weight.
Getting to this weight could be a key part of your procedure prep depending on your background and future goals.
Types of Liposuction
History has seen the evolution of different techniques for liposuction. The earliest approaches and devices used were efficient in fat extraction but difficult to control and could easily result in contour problems.
As medical devices and expertise evolved, several different types of liposuction emerged. These various options are still on the market, and the one you choose will depend on your unique background, preferences, and goals.
- Suction Assisted Lipoplasty (SAL): The earliest and simplest technique. Fat is extracted from the body — or “sucked” out — using a hollow cannula connected to a vacuum system.
- Ultrasound-Assisted Lipoplasty (UAL): This technique requires an ultrasound source to use sound energy (through a process known as cavitation) to emulsify fat. The emulsification step is typically followed by an extraction step using a cannula.
- Laser-Assisted Lipoplasty (LAL): This technique uses laser energy to soften the targeted fat. It is more discrete than ultrasound with less collateral tissue injury potential. It can also have an adjunctive role in skin contraction by stimulating the collagen of the deep dermis.
- Power-Assisted Lipoplasty (PAL): This technique requires a power source that creates 2 to 4 mm of oscillating movement. The standard equipment has a frequency of approximately 6000 cycles per minute. This powered assistance substantially augments the extraction of fat while simultaneously reducing the effort required by the surgeon.
Why Choose Sono Bello for Liposuction?
There are many different providers for liposuction — but none offer the same combination of expertise, innovation, dependability, and affordability as Sono Bello.
At Sono Bello, we specialize in total body transformation. It’s all we do. Sono Bello surgeons are highly trained in micro-laser technology and perform thousands of body contouring procedures every year.
All of our cutting-edge procedures are done in the comfort of our AAAHC-accredited offices, without the need for general anesthesia or intravenous anesthesia. We customize each procedure for your unique background, concerns, and goals.
Each of our physicians is a seasoned expert who cares deeply about patient health and satisfaction, backed by a company with a proven track record for doing everything to help patients meet their aesthetic goals.
Micro-Laser Liposuction vs. Traditional Liposuction
Our micro-laser liposuction procedure, TriSculpt, illustrates many of the advancements made in the field of body contouring. There are a few key differences between micro-laser liposuction versus traditional liposuction:
- Micro-laser liposuction doesn’t use general anesthesia
- Micro-laser liposuction uses more advanced equipment
- Micro-laser liposuction promotes enhanced results
- Micro-laser liposuction boasts faster recovery
While both traditional liposuction and TriSculpt are designed to remove fat, there are some differences between them that highlight technical and technological advancements.
Simply put, if you had to run a mile on a track, would you rather run in a pair of work boots or running shoes? Yes, you can run in either shoes — but no doubt, running shoes are better, as TriSculpt is over traditional liposuction.
Benefits of Micro-Laser Liposuction
Some of the benefits of our innovative micro-laser liposuction approach include:
- Permanent fat removal
- Minimally invasive
- No general anesthesia
- Faster recovery (less downtime than traditional liposuction)
Male Breast (Gynecomastia) Reduction via Liposuction
Gynecomastia is a common, non-cancerous enlargement of the male breast, sometimes referred to as “man boobs”. Not all men can get rid of gynecomastia with just diet and exercise. Liposuction is an increasingly common option for treatment as it is simple, safe, and highly effective — with minimal recovery.
In general, gynecomastia is first treated using liposuction to remove the fatty tissue from the breast. Sometimes, liposuction is all that is needed to treat gynecomastia. But when liposuction cannot adequately remove the actual glandular tissue that may be present underneath the nipple region, treatment may also involve directly removing this tissue by making a small incision around the nipple.
Coolsculpting vs. Liposuction
Liposuction isn’t the only procedure on the market that promotes permanent fat loss. Coolsculpting, a non-surgical treatment, is another option. These are two very different procedures, both with advantages and disadvantages.
Coolsculpting is a non-invasive, non-surgical modality for permanent fat reduction that was developed in 2010. It uses patented cooling technology to “freeze” the fat, which is then eliminated by the body over time. Unlike liposuction, Coolsculpting delivers more modest, less dramatic results.
What is Body Contouring?
Body contouring, or body sculpting, is a surgical concept that includes procedures that enhance the draping of skin and tissue after weight loss.
These procedures include panniculectomy (removal of excess abdominal skin), abdominoplasty (tightening of abdominal muscles, removal of skin and fat), liposuction, and body lifts.
Excess Skin Removal
Excess skin removal is a common desire for many people. Often, liposuction alone does not offer this.
For those who require an additional amount of fat removal, an added post-TriSculpt procedural step is often needed where the remaining loose and slightly sagging lower abdominal skin is removed.
Sono Bello’s AbEX procedure, when coupled with micro-laser liposuction, is the ideal solution to provide a beautiful, tighter, toned, and sculpted result.
Tummy Tucks vs. Liposuction
When choosing a cosmetic fat loss procedure, many people consider getting a “tummy tuck”. But what exactly is a “tummy tuck” — and how does it differ from liposuction? And more importantly, which one should you choose?
While liposuction focuses on removing excess fat deposits, a “tummy tuck” (medically known as abdominoplasty) focuses on removing extra skin.
Abdominoplasty is a two-dimensional procedure, where skin is removed from the lower abdomen via a wide incision in the crease from hip to hip and around the umbilicus, allowing for the advancement of the abdominal skin toward the umbilicus, the removal of excess skin, and the tightening of the entire abdomen in one vertical dimension.
Non-Surgical Skin Tightening
Skin tightening is another popular desire for many people. Separate from liposuction, there are promising skin tightening options that can help you achieve a more optimal, youthful appearance — no surgery required.
Venus cellulite treatments are simple, safe, and non-invasive procedures for cellulite reduction and skin tightening.
How Much Does Liposuction Cost?
Liposuction’s price tag depends on various factors, which include body mass index (BMI), the type of liposuction performed, the number of areas that are treated, the amount of fat removed, and facility cost.
Each of these involves individual elements that affect cost. Operating at a hospital is most costly, followed by free-standing ambulatory surgery centers versus in-office surgical units.
When using a sliding pay scale, BMI is a crucial factor in determining liposuction cost. A higher BMI indicates a higher percentage of body fat.
The number of areas that will be treated also contributes to the cost of liposuction. Some areas can be addressed during the same session, while others may require a return visit.
Additionally, the amount of fat removed plays a role in determining the cost. Eliminating large amounts of fat requires longer procedures and increases the resources needed.
Learn more about the cost of liposuction and check out our unique pricing and payment options.
Is Liposuction Covered by Health Insurance?
Given that a cosmetic surgery like liposuction is elective, it is not covered by insurance.
Paying for Liposuction
The decision to have a transformative health or beauty treatment is an important one, and it can involve many smaller decisions along the way — including choices related to payments.
We want you to feel confident about your decision to have liposuction. Check out this blog post for help on how to cover procedure costs, and this page on affordability.
Let’s Talk About Liposuction Consultations
The first step in a patient’s liposuction journey is booking a consultation!
Wondering what to expect if you schedule one? Here’s what typically goes on:
- Scheduling Your Consultation: When you call us, we’ll cover a few basics then schedule you for an in-person consultation, often within the same week. Expect your appointment to last between 30-45 minutes.
- Consultation Day: Because safety is our top priority, when you arrive, we’ll ask you to fill out paperwork sharing your medical history, a list of medications you’re taking, and any medical issues. And given that cosmetic surgery is elective, you don’t need to worry about providing insurance information.
- Meeting with a Patient Care Consultant: Now it’s time to discuss your dream procedure with your patient care consultant. The patient care consultants will listen to your goals and help you understand what other patients have achieved.
The best way for us to understand exactly what you’re looking for is for you to point it out. During the consultation, we’ll ask you to stand in front of a mirror where we’ll discuss what you consider to be your problem areas. If you’re nervous about this part of the consultation, don’t be! We’ve seen it all, and our objective is to help you achieve the body YOU want.
- Next Steps: After the consultation, we’ll briefly go over what you can expect pre-op and post-op. You will be scheduled to meet with your Sono Bello surgeon for a pre-op appointment. During this pre-op, the surgeon will evaluate your medical history and determine your final candidacy for liposuction.
We’ll also give you a custom quote for the procedures you’ve chosen, clearly explain your payment or financing options and, if you’re ready, book your procedure!
Liposuction Before & After Transformations
We’re excited and honored to share our patients’ incredible transformations. See the dramatic, life-changing laser liposuction results thousands of other people — both women and men —have experienced from Sono Bello. Then, just imagine the confidence you’ll feel when you begin your own transformation journey!
Liposuction & Pregnancy
Many patients considering liposuction wonder about the potential impacts of pregnancy on their eligibility for the procedure or their subsequent fat loss results. Check out this article from Dr. Christopher Chung, our Chief Medical Officer, to help you better understand the relationship between liposuction and pregnancy.
(Spoiler alert! We’ve got great news: liposuction does not have any negative impact on future pregnancy and pregnancy will not ruin your liposuction results.)
Consider These Liposuction Procedures
There are different types of liposuction procedures, and each one is uniquely tailored to the patient’s individual needs. Explore our different options to learn what might work best for you and your goals: