Liposuction (also called lipoplasty) is continually one of the most popular cosmetic procedures performed in the United States. Dr. Yves-Gerard Illouz—a French surgeon—developed the modern liposuction procedure in the late 1970s, and the equipment and techniques utilized for treatment have advanced significantly over the years, allowing for improvement of the final results for both women and men today.
If you are considering liposuction to remove stubborn fat and achieve a leaner, more sculpted physique, we encourage you to explore the detailed information provided throughout this page and/or contact Herring Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stephen Herring, our board-certified plastic surgeon.
Liposuction Quick Facts
- Improve body shape by removing diet- and exercise-resistant fat deposits with a tube and vacuum device
- 1 to 2 hours or more; UAL is 20–40 percent longer than traditional liposuction
- Local, epidural, or general
- Usually outpatient; extensive procedures may require short inpatient stay
- Side Effects
- Temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, soreness, and/or burning sensation; tumescent: temporary fluid drainage from incision sites; UAL: larger incisions for cannula.
- Back to work: 1 to 2 days; more strenuous activity: 3 to 4 weeks; full recovery from swelling and bruising: 1 to 6 months or more; use of tumescent technique or UAL may decrease post-operative bruising and swelling.
- Duration of Results
- What Is Liposuction?
- Liposuction Candidates
- Types of Liposuction
- Liposuction Procedure
- Recovery from Liposuction
- Liposuction Safety
- Liposuction Cost
- Additional Liposuction FAQs
What Is Liposuction?
Liposuction is a procedure that removes localized, excess fat in problem areas that are resistant to diet and exercise. Treatment can be performed on virtually any area of the body, with the most common regions being the neck, abdomen, flanks, chest, back, arms, inner and outer thighs, knees, and buttocks.
Liposuction works by placing a negative pressure on a cannula (tube) that removes fat while causing very little injury to important structures such as nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. The deep layer of fat is almost completely removed while the superficial layer of fat just under the skin remains, which can dramatically change the body contour and yield beautiful curves. The brilliance of liposuction is that it removes the unwanted fat deposits but leaves the structures that are desirable in place. In addition, it is done through a tiny incision so that the scar is very inconspicuous after surgery.
Goals of Liposuction
- Balance the figure to achieve better proportion(s)
- Create smooth contours in clothes without bulges in the wrong places
- Improve one’s appearance in bathing suits
- Enhance self-confidence and self-image
Dr. Herring has performed liposuction thousands of times during his more than 25 years of practice, and he is highly skilled in customizing the procedure to meet the unique needs and cosmetic desires of each individual. He would be happy to meet with you during a private consultation to discuss your cosmetic concerns and formulate a treatment plan that can yield optimal results.
The comments below have been made to Dr. Herring as reasons for getting liposuction:
- “I have tried to get rid of the fat on my stomach with sit-ups, but it will not go away.”
- “I want to wear a two piece bathing suit and want my stomach to be flatter.”
- “Since I had children, there are areas of fat that I can’t get rid of.”
- “I would like for my thighs to be thinner so that I can wear slacks.”
- “I am happy with the appearance of my face but would like to improve my neck.”
It is important to note that women and men seeking liposuction should be in good general health with no unmanaged medical conditions that could negatively impact healing to be considered good candidates. In addition, patients need to have realistic expectations for what can and cannot be achieved, which will be discussed in full detail based on your unique case at the time of the consultation.
“I had liposuction done in the abdomen, flanks, and inner thighs. Dr. Herring is a very experienced and knowledgeable plastic surgeon, who took the time to answer all my questions. I would do it all over again without a shadow of a doubt. Their patient care is second to none.”
What Are the Different Types of Liposuction?
There are many types of liposuction devices on the market, and the common element to all of them is the vacuum machine. This creates a negative pressure on the cannula (tube), which in turn removes the fat deposits. The end instrument that touches the patient has many designs and methods for fat removal, including (but not limited to) tumescent, ultrasonic, and power-assisted liposuction.
Tumescent liposuction is a technique that places a solution of very dilute medicine in the area to be treated prior to the removal of fat. The medicine serves two purposes in liposuction. First, it typically contains an anesthetic that helps numb the tissue. Second, the solution contains a second medicine that helps minimize blood loss. The fluid containing the medicine also serves a purpose in liposuction—after the procedure, there is swelling of the tissue, and the extra fluid helps prevent loss of fluid from other parts of the body that can cause low blood pressure. By performing tumescent liposuction, most of what is removed is pure fat, and there is very little loss of blood, which typically results in a quicker resolution of swelling.
Ultrasound-Assisted Liposuction (UAL)
Ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL) is a newer liposuction method in which a probe is inserted beneath the skin to “liquify” the fat via ultrasonic energy before it is suctioned. For larger volumes of fat, or for fibrous body areas, UAL may be the best technique to use.
Power-Assisted Liposuction (PAL)
Power-assisted liposuction (PAL) is a method of decreasing fatty tissues by utilizing a fast, short reciprocating stroke of a suction cannula that allows the plastic surgeon to work more as a gentle sculptor in comparison to other methods. By providing more control, it often has the potential to achieve more predictable results in certain cases.
Ultimately, specific types of liposuction are better in some areas than others, and Dr. Herring may use a combination of technologies for different situations based on his surgical expertise.
Considerations for Emerging Technology
The techniques and technologies utilized to perform liposuction and many other cosmetic procedures are constantly evolving. When studying emerging technology you have heard or read about, it is important to consider peer reviewed scientific studies to answer questions of efficiency and safety. In some circumstances, new technology is touted as the “magic wand” for a particular procedure, and scientific studies sometimes suggest otherwise. Scientific studies should be done in a manner where the persons acting as researchers have no conflict of interest and no other motive for a particular finding other than seeking the honest truth. Any person with a conflict, such as ownership in a company that profits from the sale of an emerging technology, could bias the final findings of a study. Many scientific publications, such as the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, have very strict rules regarding conflict of interest, which gives studies published in that journal high credibility. While peer reviewed journals can have studies that draw different conclusions, information in these peer-reviewed journals is generally considered to be a primary source for accurate unbiased information.
Plast. Reconstr. Surg 2006 Dec 118(7): 1649-52
What Is the Liposuction Procedure Like?
Liposuction is generally performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia and/or IV sedation, depending on the size/number of treatment areas and quantity of fat to be removed. During the procedure, Dr. Herring will create small incisions in and/or around the targeted region, making every effort to place them in locations that remain as inconspicuous as possible after surgery. Through these incisions, he will carefully maneuver the cannula around the treatment area as it breaks apart excess fatty tissue and suctions it out to create a leaner, improved contour.
The entire liposuction procedure usually takes one to two hours to complete, though treatment may be a bit longer based on which technique is utilized for one’s particular case. For example, ultrasound-assisted liposuction (UAL)—which is often used to remove larger fat volumes—often takes approximately 20–40 percent longer to perform than traditional liposuction. In most cases, patients are able to return home later the same day to heal in the comfort of their own homes.
What Can I Expect During Recovery from Liposuction?
Recovery following liposuction is typically very easy for most patients. Non-strenuous, everyday activities—including non-physical work, school, errands, etc.—can usually be resumed the day after surgery in almost all cases. While some degree of bruising and swelling may occur, these side effects are generally reduced by the tumescent fluid often utilized during treatment, and they tend to resolve relatively quickly. The majority of individuals experience minimal to no discomfort by taking oral pain medicine for about one to two days, often requiring nothing for pain management thereafter. At approximately three to four weeks, all activities can generally be resumed with no restrictions.
Is Liposuction Safe?
When properly performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon for qualified patients, liposuction is generally considered a safe and effective procedure. Of course, there are potential risks with any surgery, and liposuction is not an exception. Some possible complications that may occur include asymmetrical body contours, over-treatment or under-treatment of targeted areas, skin irregularities, infection, and bleeding; however, these risks are greatly reduced when the right plastic surgeon is chosen. Additionally, issues can be further minimized when postoperative instructions are followed as closely as possible.
How Much Does Liposuction Cost?
At Herring Plastic Surgery, the average cost of liposuction starts at $4,200 based on factors such as the specific technique employed, the amount of fat removal required, whether treatment is performed in-office or at our surgical facility, and the type of anesthesia utilized. Included in this cost is the surgeon’s fee, as well as prescription medications.
Dr. Herring is able to offer liposuction at such a competitive price due to his ability to conduct many treatments in-office, thereby avoiding expenses associated with a hospital. In the event liposuction does need to be performed in a surgical facility, costs still remain relatively low in comparison to other practices thanks to our on-site, accredited surgery center, which maintains hospital-grade safety standards while offering improved privacy and convenience at a lower expense than a hospital.
To receive a personalized price quote for liposuction, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Herring so he can develop a custom treatment plan based on your specific needs and goals. At this time, a member of our staff can also speak with you about plastic surgery financing options that can help make the cost of liposuction fit virtually any budget.
Additional Frequently Asked Liposuction Questions
Should I feel embarrassed that I want to get liposuction?
No. You should never be embarrassed because you want to improve yourself. Millions of patients have had liposuction, and have been inspired to improve muscle tone after the procedure.
Where is the best place to get the most accurate information about liposuction?
As with any decision made to get a medical procedure, the more information you have regarding liposuction, the better. Information on liposuction can either be scientific or it can be opinion. Scientific information on liposuction would be the same for all plastic surgeons. Opinions of plastic surgeons regarding liposuction will vary to some degree, but in general the information will be similar.
The best source of information regarding liposuction is a person-to-person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon trained to perform this procedure.
There are a number of good resources to obtain information—including the Internet, professional societies, healthcare professionals, and personal communications with friends—but none of these sources are as good as a person-to-person consultation. By seeing a qualified plastic surgeon, you are able to get information about your specific situation, and the options for treatment.
Who should perform my liposuction consultation?
Your liposuction consultation should be done by the same surgeon that will perform your procedure. A properly trained plastic surgeon is able to diagnose your specific situation, and explain what options are available. In addition, the plastic surgeon can understand your concerns and your goals, and base your treatment accordingly.
How much time should my plastic surgeon spend with me during the consultation for liposuction?
Your plastic surgeon should spend enough time during your liposuction consultation to answer all your questions. The consultation for liposuction can last well over one hour, depending upon how many questions you want to ask.
What is informed consent?
Informed consent is the process of learning about a procedure and then making a decision regarding that procedure. The patient should go through the informed consent process for liposuction, and understand the material before making a decision to have the procedure. The informed consent process is a shared responsibility of the patient and the plastic surgeon. The plastic surgeon should provide written material regarding liposuction, and explain it to the patient. The patient should make an effort to understand the details of liposuction so that he or she can make an informed decision.
How does the process work in order to get liposuction?
Before the liposuction procedure, a face-to-face consultation is completed with Dr. Herring. You will receive printed material regarding liposuction, and have the opportunity to ask questions after you have read the material. There is no time limit to the liposuction consultation, and in some circumstances, a second consultation will be done. After the consultation for liposuction, Dr. Herring will make a recommendation for your procedure. The liposuction procedure can then be scheduled if a treatment plan is agreed upon.
What type of anesthesia is used for liposuction?
The type of anesthesia used for liposuction varies widely. For very small areas of liposuction, local anesthesia alone may be sufficient. Oral sedation can also be used with local anesthesia for the procedure. While local anesthesia alone can be used for larger areas of liposuction, many plastic surgeons prefer to use small amounts of intravenous sedation given by a qualified anesthesiologist. The combination of intravenous sedation and local anesthesia for liposuction is generally considered safe and effective.
How is liposuction different from a tummy tuck?
With the pure liposuction procedure, only fat tissue is removed. With the tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedure, both fat and skin are removed. For abdominal sculpting, there are some patients that are best treated by a tummy tuck, and there are other patients that are best treated by liposuction. In certain cases, patients can achieve a good result via liposuction or abdominoplasty. For patients that fall into the liposuction or tummy tuck category, it is important to understand both procedures so the most informed decision can be made.
Will I have swelling after liposuction?
Yes. There is swelling associated with any surgery, and liposuction is no different. The amount of swelling with liposuction is related to many factors, including the general condition of the patient, the specific treatment area(s), the amount of tissue removed, and the anesthesia technique. Following treatment, Dr. Herring will provide tips for how to facilitate swelling reduction.
What are the types of incisions made for liposuction?
One of the advantages of liposuction is that there are no planned, long incisions. Because of this, the healing process typically has little discomfort. Usually, there are between two and six incisions that are several millimeters long, or about the width of a pencil eraser. Because the incisions are so small, they are inconspicuous after healing in most patients.
Does the skin shrink after liposuction?
Yes, the skin does shrink after liposuction. The degree to which it shrinks depends on the quality and elasticity of the skin. In patients with good elasticity, there is often significant skin shrinkage; in patients with poor elasticity, there is typically less skin shrinkage. The skin shrinkage process does take time after liposuction, and it can take several months for most of the swelling to disappear.
Can liposuction be combined with other procedures?
Yes. Liposuction is frequently combined with other procedures, such as tummy tuck surgery, arm lift, thigh lift, and as part of a comprehensive mommy makeover.
Does liposuction replace proper diet and exercise?
No. Liposuction is not a substitute for proper diet and exercise. In order to get the best result after liposuction, healthy diet and exercise are necessary. If a patient gains weight after surgery, the final result will not be as good.
Do I have to go to the hospital to get liposuction?
Not always. Depending on several factors—including how much fat will be removed—liposuction can be performed in the office setting. Fortunately, even when a surgical facility is required, Dr. Herring performs liposuction right here at our on-site, fully accredited surgery center as opposed to a hospital.
When can I drive after liposuction?
Usually patients can drive one or two days after liposuction. One restriction is the use of strong pain medicine; the patient should not drive until he or she stops taking that medicine.
How will I contact Dr. Herring after I have liposuction?
At the appointment before the liposuction procedure, you will be given Dr. Herring’s personal cell phone number for any questions and/or concerns.
Schedule Your Liposuction Consultation
For additional information on liposuction, contact Herring Plastic Surgery today to schedule a consultation. We look forward to helping you achieve your aesthetic goals!