Cost of Liposuction
Written by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD. LinkedIn | NPI Registry | HIPAA Space
Liposuction is a cosmetic surgery intended to sculpt and change the body shape. This is achieved by the surgical aspiration of subcutaneous body fat via a variety of methods. Many people approach the procedure with a general idea of the results they want to achieve and how much they would like to pay but do not have a clear understanding as to what the cost of liposuction entails.
How Much Does Liposuction Cost?
There are several factors that play a role in determining how much a liposuction procedure will cost, and each person’s procedure may be different. Generally, four main variables have the largest impact on the cost of liposuction:
- The individual’s Body Mass Index (BMI)
- The number of areas being treated
- The amount of medication needed for the procedure
- The length of time required for the procedure
By understanding how each of these factors can impact the cost of liposuction, you can better understand how liposuction is priced.
How Does Body Mass Index (BMI) Impact the Cost of Liposuction?
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 office based surgical units. When using a sliding pay scale, BMI is a crucial factor in determining the 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.
How is Body Mass Index Calculated?
Body mass index (BMI) is a calculation used as a screening tool for body fat mass based on weight and height. Generally, a higher BMI indicates the presence of more body fat. An exception is highly muscular people. Because muscle mass weighs more than fat, muscular individuals may have a higher BMI but a low percentage of body fat.
The following equation is used to calculate BMI:
BMI = weight in kilograms/(height in meters)2
Flemish astronomer Lambert Adolph Jacque Quetelet first introduced the concept of a unified system for determining “social averages” in body size in 1835. At the time, body size was calculated by dividing the weight by the height. This equation, however, did not take into account the extra bone mass of taller people. It was determined that most of a person’s body fat is carried in the trunk, and a new equation was necessary to account for leg length in taller people. Squaring the height addresses this concern. It diminishes the contribution of leg length to the equation and levels out body mass at various heights.
In 1972, Ancel Keys popularized Quetelet’s findings under the term body mass index, and by 1993, the World Health Organization (WHO) had developed a system of categories using BMI as a determinant of people’s weight classification. The chart below details the classification categories currently in use:
- BMI of less than 18.5 is classified as underweight.
- BMI of 18.5 to less than 25 is classified as normal.
- BMI of 25 to less than 30 is classified as overweight.
- BMI of 30 or higher is classified as obese.
Obesity is further classified into the following categories:
- BMI of 30 to less than 35 is class I obesity.
- BMI of 35 to less than 40 is class II obesity.
- BMI of 40 or higher is class III obesity.
Because a higher BMI indicates a higher percentage of body fat, liposuction procedures for individuals with higher BMIs cost more because more body fat is removed.
Different Types of Liposuction Procedures
When evaluating liposuction, it’s important to understand that there are various methods that can be used, each of which can affect cost. Conventional liposuction is the oldest method and is rarely used due to its high incidence of complications. Tumescent liposuction is now considered the gold standard and can be used in combination with other modalities, such as power-assisted liposuction (PAL), ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL), and laser-assisted liposuction (LAL). Combining these modalities affects the cost of treatment.
Preoperative Factors that Affect the Cost of Liposuction
Before the procedure, certain factors must be taken into account when considering cost. Appropriate staff is required to provide patient counseling, which includes explaining the process and clarifying expectations. A thorough medical history must be obtained, and a detailed physical exam must be completed.
Adequate nursing staff must be available to administer pre-op medications as well as to monitor and record vital signs.
Factors During Surgery That Affect the Cost of Liposuction
During surgery, several factors affect the cost of liposuction. Adequate nursing and medical staff must be present. General anesthesia can be administered by CRNAs and anesthesiologists. Many surgeons in the community use CRNAs to keep costs down. Longer procedures require the professional staff to be present longer, increasing the cost of treatment.
The cost of anesthesia and other medications used also increases with the length of the procedure. A longer procedure means that more medication is needed. In addition, during tumescent liposuction, more lidocaine solution is required if the area treated is large or if multiple areas are treated. Additionally, patients with higher BMIs require more fat to be removed, which increases the time required to aspirate the fat, which increases the costs.
Postoperative Factors That Affect the Cost of Liposuction
After surgery, care must be taken to ensure a relatively painless and safe recovery. In tumescent liposuction, postoperative care plays an essential role to minimize the need for postoperative pain medication. Antibiotics, however, are continued to prevent postop infection.
Many factors influence the cost of liposuction in all stages of treatment:
- Body mass index plays a significant role in determining cost. A higher BMI generally means that there is more fat to remove, which increases the cost of liposuction.The type of procedure performed and the facility the procedure takes place in also affects the cost. Procedures that require general anesthesia cost more than those that can be performed under local anesthesia. The use of expensive equipment such as ultrasound machines for UAL also increases the cost.
- The number of areas being treated plays a role in cost. Treating multiple areas may require multiple visits, or if several areas are treated in the same session, surgery time is increased.
- The amount of medication needed before, during, and after the procedure affects cost. Local anesthesia generally incurs less cost than general anesthesia. Larger individuals may require higher doses of other medications, such as antibiotics and analgesics.
- The length of the procedures affects the cost of treatment. Longer surgeries require more extended medical care and more medications.
- Most complications are rare but can add to the total cost of liposuction if they require additional treatment.
Today, there many different liposuction modalities are available. Depending on the patient’s desired outcome, physical condition, and financial commitment, a treatment plan can be designed for individualized care.