How does Liposuction work?

What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a (mostly cosmetic) plastic surgery procedure that directly removes fat from the body using a cannula to suck the fat from the body, resulting in a slimmer, more sculpted body.

What liposuction can not do

While this procedure is useful for removing excess fat, toning the body, and resolving a few specific medical issues, it isn’t a remedy for obesity, and only removes subcutaneous fat, not visceral fat. As a result, it’s almost entirely cosmetic and isn’t a cure-all for fat-related diseases or medical complications.

Reshaping technique

The liposuction procedure is a method of reshaping the body, utilizing a technique wherein the surgeon removes fat in equal amounts from different points all over the body, sculpting the patient’s form into something more aesthetically pleasing, all to the patient’s specification.

Where lipo can remove fat

The liposuction procedure can be used almost anywhere on the body where subcutaneous fat can be found, but most commonly practiced is the removal of fat from the waist, hips, limbs, and abdomen.

Types of liposuction

While all forms of liposuction remove the fat using a tube, there are multiple methods employed to liquefy the fat so it can be easily removed via cannula. The fluid injection uses an IV solution to ease the fat into the cannula, and the Super-wet technique is the same thing, but with slightly less solution. The other two solutions are ultrasound-assisted, where ultrasound is used to liquefy fat cells, and laser-assisted liposuction, which melts fat via a concentrated laser beam.

Tumescent injection

Tumescent injection- also called Fluid Injection) is the most commonly used form of liquefying fat cells, where a cocktail of IV solution, epinephrine, and some form of localized anesthetic in order to allow the fat to be removed easily by the cannula. While this form of liposuction tends to take slightly longer than other forms of liposuction surgery, it’s also the safest.


The ultrasound technique utilizes ultrasound technology- the same form of machine that allows us to view a mother’s womb before birth and determine a baby’s gender- in order to vibrate the cells into a liquid state so that they can be removed. This can be done externally or under the first few layers of the skin.

Laser-assisted liposuction

Perhaps the most science fiction of options is the laser-assisted method of the liposuction procedure, in which lasers are harnessed and focused on a specific part of the body in order to liquefy the fat cells.

Suction Assisted Lipo

Suction-assisted Liposuction covers all forms of liposuction and is the basis of the practice- using a cannula to siphon off the liquefied fat that results from the previously mentioned forms of liposuction surgery.

Why do people get lipo

There can be any number of reasons that somebody might seek liposuction treatment, but the most common reasoning is aesthetic- trimming extraneous fat in order to have a slimmer, more sculpted body shape. There are other benefits, but cosmetics surgery composes more than 90% of candidates.

Types of Candidates

The best candidates for a liposuction procedure are adults- meaning one must exceed the age of 18- and be within 30% of the target healthy weight for their age and gender. That doesn’t mean people who don’t meet these qualifications necessarily can’t receive liposuction treatment, but medical professionals heavily advise against it.

Benefits of Lipo

Liposuction removes fat, and as a result, tends to have varied health benefits depending on the patient and how much weight is lost. For instance, lowered blood pressure, decreased risk of heart failure, and a reduction in back pain.

Prior to the procedure

Before you receive liposuction, you should talk to your Primary Care Physician, and receive their advice on the matter before pursuing the procedure. Additionally, you should adjust to low sodium, high protein diet and ensure that you can take time off of your work for recovery time. Going through with a liposuction procedure is a responsibility that requires a high degree of preparation.

Costs involved

Because it’s a cosmetic procedure, liposuction isn’t often covered by insurance, so a candidate for liposuction needs to consider whether or not they can afford the cost- anywhere from $4,000 to $18,000 depending on the amount removed and the patient- out of pocket. Additionally, there’s the time cost of the procedure, which itself is short, but can have a recovery time of anywhere from a few days to 6 whole weeks.

The Procedure

The actual methodology and technique behind the procedure is a relatively simple affair, taking only about an hour two to complete entirely.

IV Fluid lines

The first step of the procedure is dependent, of course, upon the method of surgery that you and your surgeon had decided upon prior to the surgery- Fluid injection, Laser, or Ultrasound. If, however, you chose the most common method, fluid injection, then the first step is to inject the IV Fluid. This fluid contains a local anesthetic, as well as a few other chemical agents.


Anesthesia is included with the IV cocktail which they administer using the Tumescent technique (fluid injection), but with the other forms of the liposuction procedure, anesthesia needs to be administered prior to the application of the laser or ultrasound. There are two methods of accomplishing this.

Local anesthesia

A local anesthetic, one of the two possibilities, is a form of anesthesia that targets a specific part of the body. Examples include prilocaine hydrochloride, a substance that binds to sodium ions and results in a (reversible) blockage of nerve impulse generation, making it highly effective anesthesia, or lidocaine, which acts in a similar method.


Epidural isn’t technically anesthesia, as it doesn’t completely shut off nerve responses, and only dulls the sensation that a particular region of the body feels. While it can be risky- if administered improperly, the needle that administers the epidural can cause nerve damage if it strikes a nerve when injecting the epidural- it’s also less chemically dangerous than some local anesthetics, and a good doctor is familiar with how to administer it. Talk to your physician and surgeon before requesting the use of the epidural approach.


After the anesthesia is delivered in a fluid injection liposuction procedure, incisions are made. While this does leave some minute scarring, it’s barely noticeable. The incisions allow for the cannula to be implanted in the body.

Fat is prepared for suctioning

Once this is done, the fat is kneaded, pinched, and otherwise sculpted into a mold that allows it to be more easily suctioned. This is a necessary step, as without preparing the fat, it can sometimes be difficult to remove it in the traditional fashion.

The fat is suctioned

Once the fat has been properly prepared by the surgeon, it’s removed through the cannula, being suctioned into an exterior storage bag, which is often disposed of as hazardous biowaste.

Incisions are closed

Once the fat has been removed, the surgeon will close the wounds. Usually, this is done with stitches, though other methods exist for people allergic to the materials used in stitches, or else who feel uncomfortable from stitches.

Recovery and Downtime

At the end of the procedure, the patient is brought into a recovery room, where they’re observed for signs of any medical complications that might manifest after the procedure. Such complications include low blood pressure, dizziness, or nausea.

Support bandages

Most patients are given support bandages to cover the affected area, in order to hide the physical evidence of the procedure and to better stabilize the tentative nature of the affected area.


In instances where the wound might have been infected during the procedure, or if the patient is at risk for vulnerability to invasive bacterial infection, the patient may be administered a prescription for antibiotics.


For those who were resistant to the anesthesia, or else have difficulty dealing with the natural soreness which comes from the postoperative recovery process, painkillers may be administered, or a prescription. Ask your physician if you’re sore longer than is normal after a liposuction procedure.


Patients who have particularly thin blood, or else have issues forming natural blood clots may experience bruising during the recovery process. If this happens after the procedure, ask your physician for advice on how to assess and handle the situation.


If the anesthesia was improperly administered or slight nerve damage was done during the procedure, the patient may experience some degree of numbness after the procedure. If this persists, contact emergency medical immediately.

Risks and complications

There is any number of risks that can be taken when considering liposuction for one’s self, because of the complex nature of the effect it can have on human anatomy. It is considered necessary to speak to a medical professional extensively about your medical needs before approaching a liposuction clinic further.

Seeing your results

Results will begin to appear about 1-2 months after the surgery.

Keeping your results

While getting liposuction is a great way to keep yourself healthy and reduce some amount of excess fat, the change isn’t permanent unless precautionary measures are taken- a strict diet and regular exercise are necessary to keep yourself as thin as you would be after the procedure.

Schedule a Consultation

Contact us today to schedule your appointment with the renowned plastic surgeon and breast & body specialist Dr. Mark Schusterman. Take your first steps to a more beautiful you.

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